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No Country for Old Men

Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature


Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger

Once a country of emigration and diaspora, in the 1990s Ireland began to attract immigration from other parts of the world: a new citizenry. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, the ratio between GDP and population placed Ireland among the wealthiest nations in the world. The Peace Agreements of the mid-1990s and the advent of power-sharing in Northern Ireland have enabled Ireland’s story to change still further. No longer locked into troubles from the past, the Celtic Tiger can now leap in new directions.
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.


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Damien Shortt ‘A River Runs Through It’: Irish History in Contemporary Fiction, Dermot Bolger and Roddy Doyle 123


‘A River Runs Through It’: Irish History in Contemporary Fiction, Dermot Bolger and Roddy Doyle Damien Shortt Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. — Norman MacLean, A River Runs Through It (1976) Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. — A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1929) Dermot Bolger and Roddy Doyle are two of Ireland’s most popular con- temporary authors, and share strikingly similar backgrounds: they were both born in Dublin (Doyle in 1958 and Bolger in 1959) and grew up within 10 miles of each other on the ‘Northside’ of the city. Their work is predominantly peopled with working-class Dubliners, and usually presents discussions of social issues in a contemporary setting. However, there are two texts that thematically stand out from the rest: Doyle’s A Star Called Henry (2000) and Bolger’s The Family on Paradise Pier (2005). In these, both authors turn their attention to the subject of Irish history, and present a blend of fact and fiction that appears to encourage the reader to question the veracity and reliability of supposedly official/accepted accounts of history. This essay...

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