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Authority and Wisdom in the New Ireland

Studies in Literature and Culture


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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John Braidwood - Belonging from Afar: Some Images of the North in the Poetry of Michael Hartnett


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Belonging from Afar: Some Images of the North in the Poetry of Michael Hartnett

All across the Nordic countries many of the wooden houses are traditionally painted with a deep red paint in order to protect them from the harshness of the winter, when temperatures can drop to -30°C and below. The customary paint used is called red vitriol, and it is a by-product of the ancient copper industry that has flourished in Falun in Central Sweden for more than a thousand years. This highly protective paint was used throughout the then Kingdom of Sweden and so we find it commonly used in Finland too, which, until 1807, was a constituent part of Sweden. Michael Hartnett was a poet who was often vitriolic in his poems; he was also an iconoclast, a desecrator who coated his poems in poetic red vitriol in order to protect the rural vision and expression of the Ireland that he cherished. Never the most popular of poets, nor even particularly widely known or read, Hartnett’s voice always carries authority; he is deeply serious about his poetry. He cloaks himself in a vision of Ireland, devoting his life – for rather meagre financial gain – to creating profound poetry addressing not just the flora and fauna of Ireland but embracing an intellectual journey on the path to wisdom: from Irish and classical mythology via an intense knowledge of classical music to Christianity and Islam and much besides. Hartnett...

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