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Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century

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Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

This landmark collection marks the publication of the 100th book in the Reimagining Ireland series. It attempts to provide a «forward look» (as opposed to what Frank O’Connor once referred to as the « backward look») at what Irish Studies might look like in the third millennium. With a Foreword by Declan Kiberd, it also contains essays by several other leading Irish Studies experts on (among other areas) literature and critical theory, sport, the Irish language, food and beverage studies, cinema, women’s writing, Brexit, religion, Northern Ireland, the legacy of the Great Famine, Ireland in the French imagination, archival research, musicology, and Irish Studies in North America. The book is a tribute to Irish Studies’ foundational commitment to revealing and renewing Irishness within and beyond the national space.

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13 Northern Ireland’s Future(s)

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COLIN COULTER AND PETER SHIRLOW

That Northern Ireland ever came into existence in the first place was, of course, a matter of historical happenstance. Partition was the desired outcome of none but the most marginal players in the dramas of the Home Rule era. It would, nonetheless, become the imperial expedient deployed in an ill-starred attempt to square the circle of competing ethnonational projects. As with most unwanted children, the precise details of Northern Ireland’s conception and birth remain somewhat opaque. As the centenary of the region has come into view, commentators have suggested several moments that might be adopted when marking the event. These have ranged from the advent of the Government of Ireland Act in late 1920 to the calamitous decision of the Boundary Commission in 1925 to leave the frontiers of the new political entity at the traditional borders of the six counties. In the end, it was determined that the centenary of Northern Ireland would be commemorated in May 2021 to coincide with the moment when the Government of Ireland Act came into force.1 Writing just six months in advance of the festivities, it is hard to discern any real momentum behind – or indeed enthusiasm around – the plans to herald the region’s second century. The distinctly muted tone of the commemoration project owes something, needless to say, to its coincidence with a global pandemic that has claimed many more lives than even the bloodiest year of the Troubles. It might also be attributed to...

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