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Family and Dysfunction in Contemporary Irish Narrative and Film

Edited By Marisol Morales-Ladrón

Institutionalized through religious, moral and political discourses, the family has become an icon of Irish culture. Historically, the influence of the Church and the State fostered the ideal of a nuclear family based on principles of Catholic morality, patriarchal authority, heterosexuality and hierarchy, which acted as the cornerstone of Irish society. However, in recent decades the introduction of liberal policies, the progressive recognition of women’s rights, the secularization of society and the effects of immigration and globalization have all contributed to challenging the validity of this ideal, revealing the dysfunction that may lie at the heart of the rigidly constructed family cell. This volume surveys the representation of the concepts of home and family in contemporary Irish narrative and film, approaching the issue from a broad range of perspectives. The earlier chapters look at specific aspects of familial dysfunction, while the final section includes interviews with the writer Emer Martin and filmmakers Jim Sheridan and Kirsten Sheridan.
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Rosa González-Casademont – ‘There is no point in making local stories that are not universally true’: An Interview with Jim Sheridan



Q.: Thanks for accepting to do this interview, particularly at a time when you are busy editing your latest film.1 As you know, it is for a volume on family tropes in Irish fiction and cinema over the last four decades. If it’s okay with you, I shall ask you mostly about your Irish-set films. Upon presenting you with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Irish Film & Television Academy ceremony, Sean Bean described your work as being ‘dedicated to explaining the meaning of family’ (IFTA 2015), a point that the late Roger Ebert had already celebrated when he noted that you are a ‘director who has a sure hand with stories about families’ (2009). Why this recurrent focus on the family in your films? Is it because it is a key institution in Irish culture?

A.: I believe it’s part of my experience. My mother had a lodging house, a house where she had boarders who paid. That happened when I was about twelve. The nuclear family got kind of finished then, we merged into a larger family that included all the lodgers. People came from every walk of life, from farmers to accountants, to people who had left the Church, to people who had been abused by the Church, by the Christian Brothers, to people who came out of Northern Ireland in the start of the Troubles. At one point there were fifty people in our house. And...

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