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Festschrift for Tadhg Foley

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Maureen O'Connor

This Festschrift for Professor Tadhg Foley of the National University of Ireland, Galway, who retired in 2009, gathers together international contributors in the fields of poetry, politics and academia to honour this great man’s life and work. Professor Foley has not only been central in the development of Irish Studies and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies in Ireland and in the United States, but he has also enjoyed a long career as convivial host in his thatched cottage in Salthill, Galway. He remains one of the most popular and beloved figures in Irish academia. Among the eminent scholars included in the volume are Terry Eagleton, Robert Young, Penny Boumelha, David Lloyd, Luke Gibbons, Joep Leerssen and Maud Ellmann. The book is further enriched by poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Louis de Paor, Rita Ann Higgins, Michael D. Higgins and Tom Duddy. This collection is a rare and distinctive gathering of true and resonant voices, offering a unique portrait of late twentieth-century Irish literary and academic culture and its interplay with the United States.

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Irish Voyages and Visions: Pre-figuring, Re-configuring Utopia Tom Moylan 239

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Irish Voyages and Visions: Pre-figuring, Re-configuring Utopia Tom Moylan Father, embark in the boat and let us sail westwards to the island which God called the Promised Land of the Saints which God will give to those who come after us at the end of time. — Brendan, Navigatio sancti Brendani abbatis A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopia. — Oscar Wilde, ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism’ The land sustaining us seemed to hold firm Only when we embraced it in extremis. All I believed that happened there was vision. — Seamus Heaney, ‘The Disappearing Island’ I From early Irish literature, with its Celtic Otherworld and Christian Heaven, the anticipation of an alternative space resonates (albeit trans- formed, and refunctioned) through the centuries. In the aisling poetic tradition, the other place is the Ireland of the past, lost and gone, but still arousing affiliation, and sometimes hope, for its revival. In the ballad tradi- tion, while familiar, the local valleys, rivers, and villages celebrated in song become idealized sites of joy and happiness that sustain and at times inspire 240 Tom Moylan the writer/singer in the generally darker present. And in the political realm, the anticipation of a nation, lost or not yet won, is evoked in songs, mani-...

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