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Revolution and Evolution


Edited By John Strachan and Alison O'Malley-Younger

The essays in this collection all revolve around the notion of change in Ireland, whether by revolution or by evolution. Developments in the shared histories of Ireland and Great Britain are an important theme throughout the book. The volume begins by examining two remarkable Irishmen on the make in Georgian London: the boxing historian Pierce Egan and the extraordinary Charles Macklin, eighteenth-century actor, playwright and manslaughterer. The focus then moves to aspects of Hibernian influence and the presence of the Irish Diaspora in Great Britain from the medieval period up to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century celebrations of St Patrick’s Day in Manchester. The book also considers the very different attitudes to the British Empire evident in the career of the 1916 rebel Sir Roger Casement and the Victorian philologist and colonial servant Whitley Stokes. Further essays look at writings by Scottish Marxists on the state of Ireland in the 1920s and the pronouncements on the Troubles by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
The book also examines change in the culture of the island of Ireland, from the development of the Irish historical novel in the nineteenth century, to ecology in contemporary Irish women’s poetry, to the present state of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Contemporary Irish authors examined include Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor and Martin McDonagh.


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‘Oh Horrible! An Irish Man’: Macklin, Friel and the Politics of Mimicry ALISON O’MALLEY-YOUNGER 37


‘Oh Horrible! An Irish Man’: Macklin, Friel and the Politics of Mimicry Alison O’Malley-Younger IRISH, THE: A mythical folk. There is no single bunch of people called the Irish. Instead there are the Gaelic-Irish, Norman Irish, Anglo-Irish, Scots Irish, Danish-Irish, and nowadays a sprinkling of Chinese-Irish too. — Terry Eagleton, 2002 Nation or Notion? In his tongue-in-cheek dictionary The Truth About The Irish (2002), Terry Eagleton raises a highly pertinent and valid question relating to current debates on identity politics and postcolonialism in Ireland: ‘what (if it is anything) is “Irishness”?’ Is it possible to posit a cultural or national identity for a nation which Eagleton describes as a ‘mythical memory … an imaginary terrain, a museum, a fantasy, a consoling fiction, a country of the mind’? (Eagleton, 2002: 106) Northern Ireland, again according to Eagleton, is: The hottest Irish potato of all. Even calling it Northern Ireland is politically debat- able. Unionists would be happy enough with the name, but nationalists would prefer something like, ‘the six counties’. Don’t talk to Unionists about ‘Britain and Northern Ireland’, since for them Northern Ireland is part of Britain. Similarly don’t talk to Irish Nationalists about the ‘mainland’, meaning Britain, since for them Ireland is the ‘mainland’. (Eagleton, 2002: 128) 38 Alison O’Malley-Younger How, then, does one begin to apply a postcolonial theory to a ‘mythical memory’, or even more problematically to ‘the hottest Irish potato of all’, the much-debated North, wherein what can euphemistically be described as ‘differences of opinion’ are endemic...

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