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Urban and Rural Landscapes in Modern Ireland

Language, Literature and Culture


Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Carmen Zamorano Llena

The central theme of landscape has long been associated with the construction and expression of Irish national identity, particularly in relation to rural Ireland, which traditionally has been regarded as an important source of national heritage and culture. Associated with this preoccupation is the rural/urban divide that has characterised traditional representations of Ireland, especially since the end of the nineteenth century. The twentieth century saw dramatic changes to both rural and urban Ireland. The Celtic Tiger economy and the post-Tiger context have also seen momentous transformations in the Irish landscape. This book analyses the relationship between the rural and the urban and explores the way it is reflected in Irish literature, culture and language from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Among others, the work of John Hewitt, Liam O’Flaherty, Moya Cannon, Paula Meehan, Thomas Kinsella and Eavan Boland is analysed, through a variety of perspectives including cultural studies, linguistics, literary studies and ecocriticism.


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Part I Landscapes and Language 15


PART I Landscapes and Language Raymond Hickey Rural and Urban Ireland: A Question of Language? Introduction A cursory glance at a map of Ireland not only reveals a geographical division of the country into a northern and a southern part but also a clear delimita- tion of town and countryside. The cities in Ireland are all on the coast and are all some distance from each other. There are no conurbations in Ireland comparable to that of Liverpool-Manchester or Birmingham-Coventry in England or the cities of the Ruhr area of Germany. But both halves of the country are dominated by a single large city: Belfast for Northern Ireland and Dublin for the Republic of Ireland. These cities have extended into their respective hinterlands in the twentieth century, greatly enlarging their metropolitan areas in the process. All other cities are considerably smaller, as can be seen from the following table of approximate sizes (rounded up to the nearest thousand). The figures for Belfast and Derry are based on the 2001 United Kingdom Census. Those for the remaining cities derive from the 2006 Republic of Ireland Census. Note that the tripartite division into (i) city area, (ii) urban area and (iii) metropolitan area only applies to the four largest cities. In both the north and the south of Ireland the metropolitan area of the respective capital occupies well over one third of the entire population. This situation is necessarily ref lected in the culture of the two halves of the country. For...

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