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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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3. In at the Death: The French Press and the Celtic Tiger Grace Neville 53


3. In at the Death: The French Press and the Celtic Tiger Grace Neville Over many centuries, French visitors to Ireland have filled countless rich volumes with their first-hand observations on ‘la verte Erin’: they have bequeathed to us a wealth of details on the Irish themselves, what they looked like, their clothing, housing, customs, pastimes and beliefs, Irish flora, fauna and awful weather, along with persistent hopes for salvation through Napoleon.1 The kaleidoscope of early French memories includes slated roofs that look like fish scales, windows that look like guillotines and freckles that look like trout mottling. Much of these pre-modern memories are (refreshingly?) politically incorrect: Irish people have distended lips due to speaking Irish, Irish women allow their breasts to hang loose, Cork is full of mad people wandering the streets.2 Especially since the Romantic movement in the nineteenth century, we have become accustomed to a certain kind of stylised lyrical descrip- tion across a range of genres including fiction and non-fiction, with Ire- land transformed into a cornucopia of clichés reprised to great effect by modern tourist advertisements: Ireland (and the Irish) are wild, untamed, shaped by nature rather than by nurture, beautiful and doomed. In haunt- ing landscapes, the inhabitants are either happy (poor but happy because 1 See inter alia the excellent chapter by Jane Conroy, ‘Entre Réel et Imaginaire: Les Voyageurs français en Irlande, 1650–1850’, in Paul Brennan and Michael O’Dea (eds), Entrelacs franco-irlandais. Langue, mémoire, imaginaire (Caen: Presses...

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