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Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland


Edited By Eamon Maher

In the space of a few short decades, Ireland has become one of the most globalised societies in the Western world. The full ramifications of this transformation for traditional Irish communities, religious practice, economic activity, as well as literature and the arts, are as yet unknown. What is known is that Ireland’s largely unthinking embrace of globalisation has at times had negative consequences. Unlike some other European countries, Ireland has eagerly and sometimes recklessly grasped the opportunities for material advancement afforded by the global project.
This collection of essays, largely the fruit of two workshops organised under the auspices of the Humanities Institute of Ireland at University College Dublin and the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, explores how globalisation has taken such a firm hold on Irish society and provides a cultural perspective on the phenomenon. The book is divided into two sections. The first examines various manifestations of globalisation in Irish society whereas the second focuses on literary representations of globalisation. The contributors, acknowledged experts in the areas of cultural theory, religion, sociology and literature, offer a panoply of viewpoints of Ireland’s interaction with globalisation.


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2. The Global Irish Spirit Catherine Maignant 31


2. The Global Irish Spirit Catherine Maignant In the introduction to her book published in 2001 and entitled Irish Spirit, Patricia Monaghan writes: ‘At a time when religion has been de-centred from the lives of Irish people, both individually and as a collective, the world looks to Ireland to save, if not civilisation, at least civilisation’s spiritual component.’1 This chapter will seek to analyse this phenomenon, and to suggest interpretations based on the examination of some of its aspects. Patricia Monaghan’s book provides a valuable starting point since it is a collection of testimonies by writers from Ireland and the Irish diaspora. All try to identify and define what ‘the Irish spirit’ means to them. The result is a kaleidoscope of interpretations and representations as the rich spiritual heritage of Ireland finds itself woven into the fabric of narratives inspired by individual experience and imagination. In most cases, it is a source of inspiration for the invention of personal forms of spirituality outside con- ventional religion. The spirit or spirits of Ireland are invoked through the sheer power of imagination and healing is expected to ensue. This approach stands in sharp contrast with that of the Christian churches. Imposing the notion of an absolute truth defined by God was a way, for Christianity to rationalise religious feeling and to deny the validity of individual human perceptions. Because they were based on imagination and experience, personal representations of the sacred were indeed a threat to the institution, which feared loss of...

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