Literary Representations of Irish Catholicism
Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien
This study, containing twelve chapters written by a range of distinguished literary experts and emerging scholars, explores in a systematic manner the cross-fertilisation between Catholicism and Irish/Irish-American literature written in English. The figures addressed in the book include James Joyce, Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz, Kate O’Brien, Edwin O’Connor, Brian Moore, John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Vincent Carroll and Brian Friel. This book will serve to underline the complex relationship between creative writers and the once all-powerful religious Establishment.
PETER GUY ‘Earth’s Crammed with Heaven, and every Common Bush Afire with God’: Religion in the Fiction of John McGahern 141
Peter Guy ‘Earth’s Crammed with Heaven, and every Common Bush Afire with God’1: Religion in the Fiction of John McGahern Back home in Connemara, a copy of Old Moore’s Almanac was as much a staple of our household as Ireland’s Own or The Connaught Tribune. It was purchased in January, had a patriotic De Valera-like green cover which hinted at perpetual rainfall, comely maidens, the mail boat to England and Glenroe on a Sunday evening. It was a compendium of bad astrology, the dates for the major cattle marts and weather predictions which were uniformly deranged – ‘I have to tell you that the average temperature in January was 6.2 degrees. In July it was 25 degrees. At this rate of increase, by December it will be 58 degrees and human life will be unsustainable.’ I bring this up because Old Moore’s Almanac will go some way towards explaining the religious instinct in the fiction of John McGahern. I do not think anyone actually believed that a tsunami was going to wipe out the Aran Islands and drive the people of Spiddal to take to living in trees – the whole premise is absurd. But sure enough, the Almanac would reappear on the kitchen table year in, year out and for the life of me I could not understand why – supernaturalism departed from the country cottage with the advent of electricity so I could not understand why Old Moore did not go the same way as the Puca, Dagda’s Harp and Oliver...
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