Language, Literature and Culture
Part II - Landscapes and Cultural Change 65
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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