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Celtic Connections

Irish-Scottish Relations and the Politics of Culture


Edited By Willy Maley and Alison O'Malley-Younger

While a number of published works approach the shared concerns of Ireland and Scotland, no major volume has offered a sustained and up-to-date analysis of the cultural connections between the two, despite the fact that these border crossings continue to be politically suggestive. The current collection addresses this area of comparative critical neglect, focusing on writers, from Charles Robert Maturin to Liam McIlvanney, whose work offers insights into debates about identity and politics in these two neighbour nations, too often overwhelmed by connections with their larger neighbour, England.
The essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and are designed to come together like the intricate cross-bars and precise patterning of the plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address. They move from pre-history to postmodernism, from Gothic to Gaelic and from Macbeth to Marxism, incorporating gender and genre, and providing a detailed survey of responses to the Irish-Scottish paradigm.


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STEFANIE LEHNER AND CILLIAN MCGRATTAN The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


STEFANIE LEHNER AND CILLIAN MCGRATTAN The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures In a revealing intervention in the debate over Scottish devolution, the former Conservative Prime Minister (and close ally of the current Conservative Prime Minister), John Major, stated that the implications of recent political developments must be tackled ‘head-on’. Addressing the landslide victory of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the May 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Major claimed that ‘[e]ach year of devolution has moved Scotland further from England. Scottish ambition is fraying English tolerance. This is a tie that will snap – unless the issue is resolved’ (Robinson, 2011). For the political commentator Gerry Hassan, Major’s speech was further evidence of the strategy of the Conservative establishment (which he considers to include the usual suspects of The Daily Mail, The Spectator, The Economist, among others) to reframe the debate in terms of the politics of constitutionalism. Hassan claimed that ‘[t]he Tories are going to do everything they can to retain Scotland in the union, drawing on their adaptive, f lexible unionist tradition, and do so in a way which maintains the status quo and current deformed nature of the central British state’ (Hassan, 2011a). Yet, it was the conscious avoidance of the nationalistic debate over the Union as much as the Labour Party’s relentless negative campaigning that, in some commentators’ eyes, was instrumental in securing that SNP triumph (Carrell, 2011a; Hassan 2011b). Instead, the very idea of ‘Scottishness’ was painted in a new language of cultural...

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