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Redefinitions of Irish Identity

A Postnationalist Approach


Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Carmen Zamorano Llena

Recently, the issue of postnationalism has encouraged intense debate, which has been reflected in the publication of numerous books and articles in various fields of study, including politics, history, philosophy and anthropology. However, the work produced in Irish literary criticism has been much sparser. This collection of essays aims to fill this gap and provide new insights into the debate on postnationalism in Ireland from the perspective of narrative writing. The book collects thirteen essays by academics from various countries, including Ireland, the United States and Sweden. It analyses the concepts of the postnational and the postnationalist in relation to globalisation, as well as the debate that postnationalist discourse has opened in various fields of knowledge, and its definitions and implications in the contemporary Irish historical and literary context. The literary forms under consideration include essay writing, drama, fiction, autobiography, film and poetry. The authors whose work is analysed here include Dermot Bolger, Hubert Butler, Ciaran Carson, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Marie Jones, Derek Mahon, Frank McGuinness, Robert McLiam Wilson, Conor McPherson, Sinéad Morrissey, Nuala O’Faolain and David Wheatley.


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David Cregan Divided subjectivities and modern Irish masculinities: ‘The makings of a man’ 159


David Cregan Divided subjectivities and modern Irish masculinities: ‘The makings of a man’ Ireland has never been a better place to live. While the thriving economy of the 1990s has slowed, Ireland has become a cosmopolitan nation with a European sophistication. In his book The Pope’s Children, David McWilliams describes what many have called the ‘New Ireland’: ‘We have to be there first, have the best, the brightest, the newest and the biggest. We must also be the ones who are the most fun, loudest, best craic and most off our head’ (McWilliams 2005: 3). The conservative scarcity of the past has been shaken off in favour of a cosmopolitan consumerist culture which seeks to compete, even in these economically challenging times, with the most economically efficient and fashionably chic nations of the world. And yet, the pace of change in Ireland has created some cultural uncer- tainty in its haste to distance itself from the more conservative inward- looking past. In their book Reinventing Ireland: Culture, Society and the Global Economy, editors Peadar Kirby, Luke Gibbons, and Michael Cronin identify a contradiction of terms in the development of contemporary Irish identity. They begin by quoting the National Economic and Social Council’s (NESC) strategy document published in 1999 which states that ‘Ireland reinvented itself during the 1990s’ (Kirby, et al. 2002: 1). The editors of this collection acknowledge that the idea of reinvention has caught on rapidly in Ireland, but has done so unselfconsciously and without much regard for history....

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