Pádraic Frehan: National Self-Image: The Imagological Impact and Subsequent Contemporary Permeations of Celtic Mythology in Ireland’s School Literature from 1924
← 156 | 157 → PÁDRAIC FREHAN
The Celtic mythological genre2 is one component of Irish cultural identity and therefore also an integral part of Ireland’s popular culture. These myths help construct powerful images, they create distinct frames of reference, produce social understandings of who ‘we’ are, and they clearly delineate a distinct cultural identity for the populace. The mythological themes are evident in contemporary Irish society in such diverse public spheres as municipal art, initiatives from various Departments of State, an array of commercial products from jigsaws to jewellery to comic strips and promotional material associated with public amenities.3 This evidence prompts such questions as: where can these mythological themes be traced to? What ideology might possibly be behind the construction of these images and frames of reference? And what conduit brought them to be evident in popular culture today?
The inclusion of the mythology tales in the National School textbooks of newly independent Ireland from 1922 onwards assisted in the promotion of the Gaelicization programme and inculcation of a national ← 157 | 158 → self-image while also effectively creating one component for an Irish popular culture to develop as the young country began to find its place among the global community. The incorporation of these tales in the learning curriculum helped to create a platform for the popular cultural phenomenon that later evolved and is recognized today globally as part of Ireland’s unique cultural heritage. This chapter will address the above questions by focussing on some of the...
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