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France and Ireland

Notes and Narratives

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Edited By Una Hunt and Mary Pierse

The rich association between Ireland and France is embodied in music, art and creative writing from both countries and this collection provides a tantalising selection of these interweaving influences. The book presents a vivid picture of interactions between composers, performers, poets and novelists on each side of the Celtic Sea. Surprises abound, with music unexpectedly linking Ireland and France through George Alexander Osborne and Frédéric Chopin, through Thomas Moore and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, through Irish-inspired French opera and a French-directed Irish orchestra. Words and music meet in a Kate O'Brien novel, a musical interpretation of Verlaine and a selection of Paula Meehan's poetry, while the encounter between wine and music creates new possibilities for artistic and cultural expression. Exploring the works and influence of a wide range of figures including James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Jacques Derrida, J.M. Synge, Hélène Cixous, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Hector Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, Neil Jordan and John Field, the essays collected here uncover a wealth of artistic interconnections between France and Ireland.
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France, Ireland and the Jacobite Cause in Richard Murphy’s The Battle of Aughrim

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Richard Murphy’s long historical poem The Battle of Aughrim (1968) has been praised for its objectivity and documentary-like overview of a major military encounter on Irish soil which took place on 12 July 1691 outside Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. The conflict was between a French-led Irish Jacobite army loyal to the deposed King James II and a Dutch-led Williamite army defending the Protestant and English interest of William of Orange who had claimed the English throne in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This was a decisive battle, of greater historical importance than the Battle of the Boyne of 1690, since it was at Aughrim that the Jacobite army was effectively destroyed, thus leading to the Treaty of Limerick and to the flight of the Wild Geese in October 1691. These events would confirm the Protestant, Anglo-Irish Ascendancy in Ireland for over two centuries.

Murphy’s poem is exceptionally aware of the presence of history in the consciousness and imaginations of Irish people; a well-known line from the poem insists on the presentness of the past in Irish culture: ‘The past is happening today’.1 This viewpoint is affirmed by Audrey S. Eyler and Robert F. Garratt2 who argue that:

The persistence of history in recent politics and cultural development dramatically demonstrates the tenacious grip of the past upon the contemporary Irish imagination. This historical sense seems inextricably bound to a crisis of identity, the logical result of living in a bifurcated society in which Gaelic and British...

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