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Authority and Wisdom in the New Ireland

Studies in Literature and Culture

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Edited By Carmen Zamorano Llena and Billy Gray

Since the end of the nineteenth century, Ireland has witnessed a profound reconfiguration of its cultural, political, constitutional and religious identities, resulting in an unparalleled questioning of the dominant discourses and narratives that have seemingly defined the nation. The essays in this collection examine the ways in which established Irish socio-cultural structures of authority and their constructs of collective identity have been challenged within literary and cultural discourses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Every challenge to the purported wisdom of these authority structures adds a new facet to the complexity of Irish national identity and contributes to the continuous evolution of the ‘New Ireland’, a phrase often used to signify the momentous transformations of the country in times of change.
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Carly Mclaughlin - ‘Images of Ireland that matter now’: Colm Tóibín in Conversation

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CARLY MCLAUGHLIN

‘Images of Ireland that matter now’: Colm Tóibín in Conversation

This interview took place as part of the conference at the Dalarna University Centre for Irish Studies in Falun, Sweden, on the theme ‘A New Ireland?: Representations of History Past and Present in Literature and Culture’. The interview followed a reading by Tóibín of the story ‘Two Women’ from his volume of short stories The Empty Family.

Carly McLaughlin (CM): I would like to begin with the theme of the conference ‘A New Ireland’. In the volume The Empty Family the protagonist of the story ‘One Minus One’ states ‘I do not believe in God. […] I do not even believe in Ireland’. Do you believe in Ireland?

Colm Tóibín (CT): Yes, I have swings in that direction which are always foolish, I think. Conor Cruise O’Brien has a wonderful definition of Irishness where he talks about someone being involved in the Irish situation and generally being mauled by it. What’s happened in Ireland is the bankers and the economists are in disgrace, the politicians are in disgrace, there’s some good sports people, and then oddly enough, a great deal depends on the arts. So in other words, the person who has most moral authority in Ireland, you know, is someone like Gabriel Byrne and he’s an actor and the work that Gabriel has been doing in the United States for Ireland...

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