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Ireland: Looking East

Christophe Gillissen

If Ireland’s relations with the Western world have been the object of numerous scientific publications, its links with the East have been neglected by research. The aim of this book is to redress that imbalance by proposing studies of various aspects of Ireland’s interactions with the East.
It is a multidisciplinary publication, dealing with some of the historical, political, religious, cultural, demographic and sociological connections between Ireland – both North and South – and the East.
The chapters, which offer novel perspectives for the field of Irish studies, are organised in a chronological sequence, from the mid-19 th century to the present. They focus on three main areas: the links between Ireland and the Asian continent, notably India, China and Turkey; its interactions with the Jewish people and the state of Israel; and its relations with Eastern European countries, in particular Poland and Lithuania.

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East Meets East Going West. The Baltic Neighbours in Northern Ireland 137

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137 East Meets East Going West The Baltic Neighbours in Northern Ireland Loredana SALIS, Maria Angela FERRARIO, Neringa LIUBINIENE Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH), University of Ulster At the 2007 Northbound symposium on the Baltic Neighbours, Jan Jędrzejewsky, a Polish-born Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Ulster, opened his talk by quoting what he considers as “one of the most paradoxical declarations of national identity in modern European literature”: Lithuania, my country! You are as good health: How much one should prize you, he only can tell Who has lost you. The lines are from Pan Tadeusz, the Polish national epic, written in the early 1830s by Poland’s greatest Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz. The paradox, as Jędrzejewsky explains, “lies in [the poem’s] explicit reference to Lithuania”, that is the fact that it apostrophises a European country (Lithuania) while it plays a crucial role in the cultural heritage of another (Poland).1 Geographically close but culturally different, Poland and Lithuania share centuries of common history though they preserve two distinct national identities. An unbiased understanding of their heritage and a honest appreciation of their differences is thus necessary in order to shed some light on the complex relationship between these countries and the experience of neighbourliness both ‘back home’ and abroad. 1 “Northbound” is a series of four symposia dedicated to the Jan Jędrzejewsky, “Lessons of History: From Vilnius to Belfast and Back”, paper presented at the symposium Northbound Two: Baltic Neighbours 2007,...

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