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The Leaving of Ireland

Migration and Belonging in Irish Literature and Film


John Lynch and Katherina Dodou

The Leaving of Ireland brings together an international group of scholars to reflect critically on the unfolding nature of the experience of Irish cultural identity at a time when Ireland is struggling to adjust to the shattering impacts of globalization and religious scandals of recent decades. Looking back over the last two centuries, the volume considers a range of literary and filmic works that have sought to articulate something of this experience and its multiple locations. The essays revisit crucial constituents of Irish history and self-perception at the micro-level, exploring the representation of individual experiences of migration and identification and the definition of a sense of belonging. They also examine these issues at the macro-level, looking at larger politico-historical transformations, national affiliations and changed social and geographical landscapes. The book is organized around key themes including history, mobility, memory and place and addresses the works of a wide range of authors, including Emily Lawless, Frank McCourt, Sinéad Morrissey, Paul Muldoon, Joseph O’Connor, J.M. Synge and W.B. Yeats.
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Migration and Belonging in Deirdre Madden’s Novels



ABSTRACT This chapter examines the novels of Deirdre Madden and the idea of temporary exile and travelling as a third concept between permanent exile and migration. In many ways, this concept leaks into the spaces between the other more singular definitions and points to what the chapter describes as the existential tension between belonging and being a stranger in the world, located somewhere between home and away.

With wars, conflicts and natural disasters in many places in the world, migration is an urgent problem these days, in the first place naturally for the migrants but also as seen from the receiving countries, especially those nearest to the catastrophes.2 It is, however, a phenomenon as old as humanity since people have been moving on to more fertile areas when food or water have been getting scarce or in the hope of leaving difficulties behind to find more attractive conditions. Nomadic or migratory life in this original sense is increasingly restricted but to some extent still exists among Maoris, Australian Aborigines, Denotified and Nomadic Tribes in India, the Yaaku, Bushmen, Maasai and others in various parts of Africa, First Nations in ← 209 | 210 → Canada and Indians in North and South America to mention just a few.3 The same basic pattern can be seen in the increasing urbanization.4 Over the last few centuries the whole complex of colonization with its postcolonial consequences has also been a cause of migration. It becomes very obvious when we think of writers...

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