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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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Terry Phillips No Man’s Land: Irish Women Writers of the First World War 265


No Man’s Land: Irish Women Writers of the First World War Terry Phillips Recent developments in Irish Studies consequent upon changing political circumstances – as well as a move towards ‘postnationalism’ (Graham, 2001: 81–102) – have allowed a breaking of the silence about Irish involve- ment in the Great War. The last decade has seen the publication of a number of historical studies and there is an emerging interest in aspects of the literary engagement with the War. One might cite as an example, Dermot Bolger’s recent play, Walking the Road which deals with the life of the soldier poet, Francis Ledwidge. Bolger, and critics such as Fran Brearton and Jim Haughey enter a space created by recent critical chal- lenges to the predominant and monolithic nationalist narrative (Bolger, 2007; Brearton, 2000; Haughey, 2002). Parallel with this new interest is the slightly earlier emergence in the early 1990s of British interest in women’s war writing, an attempt to move away from what Claire has described as a ‘men only construction of the Great War’. Such a move, an inevitable if delayed consequence of second-wave feminism, has enabled a range of critics such as Tylee, Suzanne Raitt and Trudi Tate to recover not only women’s poetry but a range of fictional writing, notably in the subgenre of ‘home front’ writing. To extend such critical analysis to Irish home front writing is to enter a more complex critical arena, not least because national identity was a shifting phenomenon in the period, allowing a...

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