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Trauma and Identity in Contemporary Irish Culture


Edited By Melania Terrazas Gallego

The last two centuries of Irish history have seen great traumas that continue to affect Irish society. Through constructing cultural trauma, Irish society can recognize human pain and its source/s and become receptive to the idea of taking significant and responsible measures to remedy it. The intention of this volume is to show the mediating role of the literature and film scholar, the archivist, the social media professional, the historian, the musician, the artist and the poet in identifying Irish cultural trauma past and present, in illuminating Irish national identity (which is shifting so much today), in paying tribute to the memory and suffering of others, in showing how to do things with words and, thus, how concrete action might be taken.

Trauma and Identity in Contemporary Irish Culture makes a case for the value of trauma and memory studies as a means of casting new light on the meaning of Irish identity in a number of contemporary Irish cultural practices, and of illuminating present-day attitudes to the past. The critical approaches herein are of a very interdisciplinary nature, since they combine aspects of sociology, philosophy and anthropology, among other fields. This collection is intended to lead readers to reconsider the connections between trauma, Irish cultural memory, identity, famine, diaspora, gender, history, revolution, the Troubles, digital media, literature, film, music and art.

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9 Traumatic Childhood Memories and the Adult Political Visions of Sinéad O’Connor, Bono and Phil Lynott


David Clare

9Traumatic Childhood Memories and the Adult Political Visions of Sinéad O’Connor, Bono and Phil Lynott


Memories of traumatic events and circumstances from their formative years greatly influenced the politics of Irish singer-songwriters Sinéad O’Connor, Paul “Bono” Hewson of U2 and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy. The abuse that O’Connor suffered at the hands of her mother in childhood inspired performances protesting the abuse of power within the Roman Catholic hierarchy and England’s poor treatment of people from its former colonies, including Ireland. The effects of the 1974 Dublin bombing on Bono himself and on Andy Rowan (his best friend’s brother) inspired several U2 songs. These include classic tracks relating to Northern Irish politics, the reconciling of Catholic and Protestant Irishness, and heroin abuse in 1980s Dublin. Finally, Phil Lynott’s experiences of racism during his Dublin childhood led him to repeatedly assert in his work that a black Irish identity is not only possible but also powerful and appealing. This sociopolitical agenda informs several of his songs, including “Black Boys on the Corner”, “Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend” and “Ode to a Black Man”.

Sinéad O’Connor, Paul “Bono” Hewson of U2 and the late Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy are three of Ireland’s most famous rock musicians, but that is not all that these celebrated singer-songwriters have in common. Memories of traumatic events and/or circumstances from their formative years in Dublin greatly influenced...

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