Editorial: Ireland’s Past?

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Editorial: Ireland’s past? The popular cliché about the island of Ireland being a place that the flow of time has left beyond is endorsed by a variety of perspectives. Emigration has made such a huge impact on Irish history that the Irish diaspora and its descendants far outnumbered the inhabitants of the Ireland of Ireland itself, and many of those outside Ireland who claim Irish descent remain emotionally attached to a conception of the “old country,” whose image in their minds is strongly associated with the distant experiences of their ancestors. The Irish tourist industry, conscious of the lucrative market linked to such conceptions, has repeatedly packaged the country as characterised by a slower, almost pre-modern pace of life, picture postcards often depicting even “rush hour in Ireland” as bucolic and serene.[1] Less comfortingly, there are images of the explosive political problems of the island as an indication that its inhabitants, and especially those of Northern Ireland, remain stuck in the seventeenth century in attitudes to politics and religion.[2] Even relatively influential academic voices perceive the recent problems of Northern Ireland politics as a product of the “backwardness” of Irish society, or of particular groups within it.[3] British establishment voices have long compounded this image by attributing political difficulties in the country to an atavistic obsession with history among its communities, and thus an inability to forgive imagined or actual wrongs inflicted (not least by British hands) many generations ago.[4] Yet there is also an opposite set of clichés surrounding Ireland and the Irish and their relationship to temporality which suggests the unusual liberation of place the people from ... ... middle of paper ... ...ace Processes (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000). 14 Stephen Howe, ‘Historiography’, in Kevin Kenny (ed.), Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp.220-50: Clare Carroll and Patricia King (eds.), Ireland and Postcolonial Theory (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003). 15 See volumes 4 and 5 of The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (general editor, Seamus Deane), Angela Bourke (ed.), Irish Women’s Writing and Traditions (Cork: Cork University Press, 2002): Louise Ryan and Margaret Ward (eds.), Irish Women and Nationalism: Soldiers, New Women and Wicked Hags (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2004). 16 John S. Rickard (ed.), Irishness and (Post)modernism (Lewisburg [Pa.]: Bucknell University Press, 1994). 17 Colin Graham, Deconstructing Ireland: Identity, Theory, Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001).

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