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Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland

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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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9. Irish Theatre and Globalisation: A Faustian Pact? Patrick Lonergan 177

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9. Irish Theatre and Globalisation: A Faustian Pact? Patrick Lonergan In May 2008, the Abbey Theatre staged The Seafarer, a new play by Conor McPherson. In many ways, it seems a typically Irish work: it involves a group of under-achieving working class men who talk (and drink) to excess, and it presents audiences with one of the Irish stage’s most familiar scenes: the filthy living space, cluttered with empty whiskey bottles, with a sacred heart statue perched on the wall. What makes the play seem a little unusual, how- ever, is that one of its characters is none other than the devil incarnate. The Seafarer blends the old Dublin tale of the Hellfire Club with elements of the Faust legend, which are brought into the present-day setting of a house on Dublin’s northside. It’s Christmas Eve, and a group of men have gathered to play a game of cards; they are joined unexpectedly by a stranger called Lockhart, who, it turns out, is Satan in human form, come to Dublin to win the soul of the play’s protagonist, Sharky. ‘I’m the son of the morning, Sharky’, he says. ‘I’m the snake in the garden. I’ve come here for your soul this Christmas, and I’ve been looking for you all fucking day!’1 Sharky, we learn, had bartered his soul in a game of cards with Lockhart twenty-five years previously (in 1981, according to the play’s chronology), when he was arrested after a drunken brawl that resulted in the death of...

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