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Urban and Rural Landscapes in Modern Ireland

Language, Literature and Culture

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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 II - Landscapes and Cultural Change 65

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PART II Landscapes and Cultural Change Kieran Keohane Ireland’s Haunted Landscape: From the Deserted Homes of the ‘Faithful Departed’ to the Post-Celtic Tiger Social Desert Contemporary Ireland is a strange place, a society that has been utterly transformed in twenty years, a small country buf feted and blown by his- torical storms and global economic currents that, it seems, we have very little control over, a society that is thrown forwards and backwards, and lurches from famine to feast, from bust to boom and back again. Maybe it is a feeling of collective insecurity that makes ‘home’ so very important to us; the deep need we feel to ‘have a roof over our heads’, the importance which Irish people – Irish people living in Ireland, and especially Irish emigrants living away from Ireland in the cities of England and America – place such an extraordinary value and feel such an intense attachment to house and home. I should say that I myself am one of the people whom I am talking about in this essay as perhaps are many of you readers. In 1986 I left home on a bus to London, following hundreds of thousands, even millions, of others, going back over 150 years, people leaving behind Ireland, a sad and melancholy place, a society dead and dying, the countryside marked by the empty and abandoned houses of the departed. But while the images of the interiors of deserted Irish houses in David Creedon’s collection of photographs ‘Ghosts of the Faithful...

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