John Wilson Foster, Colonial Consequences: Essays in Irish Literature and Culture (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1991), 289pp. + bibl. & index

INTRODUCTION Biographical introduction covers exposure to American New Critics, to Benedict Kiely’s enthusiasm, and to the experience of growing up in Belfast. ‘There is now a number of Irish criics scanning all of Irish Literature and doing so with eyes properly capable of narrowing. For a couple of years it seemed as if Seamus Deane, Terence Brown, and I were writing all of it.’ [3]

Heaney went on reading at the time of the 1974 Dublin bombings, in reparation for his stopping at the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972.

A few bizarre typographical errors, viz., 201

1: Topographical Tradition in Anglo-Irish Poetry [1974]

James Ward, Henry Jones, William Hamilton Drummond, William Drennan. The English tradition begins with Sir John Denham, who happens to be Irish but ‘it would be unhealty to ‘Cooper’s Hill’ as an Irish poem’. ‘Cooper’s Hill’ and Pope’s ‘Windsor Castle’ are constantly cited in the tradition as the important antecedents. Ward’s ‘Phoenix Park’ enacts most of the conventions including the adulation of Caroline monarchy, and the threee dimensional ‘walking’ space of the poems; and BIBL: see Brendan O’Hehir, critical ed. of Cooper’s Hill as Expans’d Hieroglyphics (Berkeley 1969).

‘Phoenix Park; by James Ward [in his Miscellany of Poems, 1718], first genuinely topographical Irish poem; the Park was laid out by Chesterfield in fulfilment of plans of Duke of Ormond, in 1745. The poem was also included in Concanen’s Miscellaneous Poems, Orig. and Trans., by Several Hands (Lond. 1724). According to O’Donoghue, Ward was a TCD grad.

JWF: the ascendancy of the Protestants made possible the composition of topographical poetry in Ireland even though the Irish poets (like the Ascendancy itself) sought social and political inspiration in England. [PARA] While falling short of ‘Cooper’s Hill’ and ‘Windsor Castle’, ‘Phoenix Park’ is a better poem than Garth’s ‘Claremont’ [13] … Ward established Irish versions of topographical motifs … that became obligatory for Irish loco-descriptive poets. ‘Rath-Farnham’ by the hapless Henry Jones. [14]

The topographical poem is of course akin with the profession of surveyors. Denham was one. Irish surveyors of the period included Robert Gibson, A Treatise of Practical Surveying (1752; 2nd ed. Dublin 1763); Peter Callan’s A Dissertation on the Practice of Land Surveying in Ireland (Drog. 1758); Benjamin Noble’s Geodaesia Hibernica (Dublin 1763). [15]

JFW remarks that the number of surveyors and their works is undoubted ‘connected with the outrageous land situation and with the incidence of confiscation, forfeiture, and reapportionment.’ [15] Callan’s effort is ‘unintentionally whimsical’. Gibson’s, a genuine contribution to the science, was also the first of its kind printed in America, where it went into 21 editions. [Bibl., Sir Herbert Fordham, Some Notable Surveyors and map Makers of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, CUP 1929;AWR Richeson, English Land Measuring to 1800 (MIT 1966).

Cites Thomas H. Mason: the city’s instrument makers were ‘kept busy in supplying the wants of surveyors of lands during the redistribution which took place subsequent to the Williamite War in Ireland.’ Dublin Hist. Record, VI (1944).

Jones made a career of exaggerated panegyric formulae of topographical poetry. [16] Died from injuries incurred when run over in St. Martin’s Lane after two day binge. Dismissed by Chesterfield after borrowing from a servant for drink.

Down-born Frances Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725) in the tradition of Shaftesbury’s Characteristics (1711), dealing with the aesthetic balance of art and nature exemplified in contemporary landscaping tastes in country houses of England. Such values were implemented in Patrick Delany’s Delville at Glasnevin, improved after 1724, and a place of resort to Swift, Tickell, and Addison.

JWF: ‘What had been merely literary motif became … the landscape of feeling. The socio-aesthetic theories of Pope, Shaftesbury and Hutcheson … gave way to Burke’s Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757) that took account of the asocial feeling of individual men and nature’s immmensity independent of Mankind [stimulating] a generation of landscapers to seek irregularity and surprise. the Popean balance of art and nature titled towards nature. Sir Evedale Price’s Essays on the Picturesque (1794) simply added another watertight category … to Burke’s beauty and sublimity. [19]

Killarney poems incl. those by John Leslie, Killarney: A Poem (Lon. 1772); Joseph Atkinson, Killarney: A Poem (Dublin 798); Charles Hoyle, Three Days at Killarney; with Other Poems (Lon.1828). Atkinson was a friend of Moore’s, his plaque in Monkstown Church. Hoyle was tutor to Lord Clanwilliam, and also wrote ‘Phoenix Park’ (1772). Atkinson’s poem exhors hard-working Englishmen to come to Killarney to teach Irish peasants the habits of industry and the techniques of manufacture.

BIBL: Rosalin M. Elmes’s Catalogue of Irish Topographical Prints and Orig. Drawings (Dublin 1943). Jonathan fisher, The Scenery of Ireland (1795) and A Picturesque Tour of Killarney (Dublin 1789). William Refus Chetwood, A Tour through Ireland (1746); John Bush’s Hibernia Curiosa (1767); Arthur Young’s famous tours in 1776. ‘77, and ‘78; George Taylor and Andrew Skinner, Maps of the Roads of Ireland (1778); William Seward’s directory, Topographia Hibernica (Dublin 1795) [incl. picturesque treatment of Killarney, following the sentiment of Price’s Essays a year earlier: ‘astonishingly sublime’ scenery striking ‘the timid with awe’].

An astonishing number of topographical poets were clergymen: Ward, Dyer, Jago, William Lisle Bowles, Thomas Maurice, and William Hamilton Drummond, et al [23] The geological controversies and topographical poems arising therefrom. [23ff.]

For Delany’s Delville, see Edward Malins, ‘Landscape Gardening by Jonathan Swift and His Friends in Ireland,; Garden History II (1973), 69.

William Drummond, ‘Clontarf’ (1822); also Drummond, ‘The Giant’s Causeway (Belfast 1811), occupies an entire vol., divided into three books, with long pref., and 100pp. of geological and historical notes. He was a Neptunian—one of those who gave a large place to the influence of water in shaping rock.

Drummond, a controversal essayist and sermonizer, b. Larne Co. antrim, ed. Belfast and Glasgow; pastor of the 2nd Congregation in Belfast.

William Hamilton (1755-1797) Derry antiquarian whose Letters Concerning the Northern Coast of the County of Antrim professed a volcanic theory of the formation of basaltic rock in the Giant’s Causeway, was assassinated as a magistrate and a clergyman.

John McKinley, The Giant’s Causeway, A Poem (Belfast 1819; Dublin 1821). b. Co. Antrim, said to be ancestor of the American president.

2: The Geography of Irish Fiction [1976]

Ultimately the Irish writer’s concern with place is evident in a subjectivity he is unwilling or unable to transcend. the richer the imagination the more expansive and decorative the captivity. [31]

‘The geography of Irish fiction’ is an essentially ambiguous phrase, implying both real and fictional place … The critic’s task is to understand these values, to ‘uncode’, in Seamus Heaney’s phrase, ‘all landscape.’ [33]

Tarry Flynn: its lyrical fantasy, while unique in the nature and power of its poetry, is the same response of author and hero to rural deprivation that we find in other Ulster and Irish fiction. [34] … a surgical portrayal of a society by an insider who has since gained the objectivity of an outsider. [35]

Kiely, Honey Seems Bitter (1954), There was an Ancient House (1955), and Dogs Enjoy the Morning (1968). In all three, the young hero ‘suffers’ from sexual inexperience, social isolation and worthless spiritual innocence, all of which are presented as forms of sickness of mind and soul metaphorized in his actual bodily sickness. [36]

‘A mythology, in its time of greatest vigour, puts its imprint on the whole region to which it belongs; the hills, rivers, mountains, plains, villages, trees, rocks, springs, and plants are all made sacred.’ [Jeremiah Curtin, Myths and Folk-lore of Ireland (Boston, Little Brown, 1890), p. 11.

Refers to Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (1972): ‘topoanalysis … the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.’ [33]

Plot summary of Richard Power’s The Hungry Grass: The contest between place and self is crucial in Irish fiction. So powerful is it that it is not unusual for it to be a death-struggle, for the fictional self to be so bound to place that the self is destroyed when it is sundered from place. What makes the theme so pervasive is the fact that the Irish have such a localised sense of place that the archteypal trauma of the separation from place can quite easily occur inside Ireland itself. This is evidenced by Richard Power’s The Hungry Grass (1969). Power has created in this novel a priest who endures hinds of exile: from the ‘deep, green soft-layered places’ of Rosnagree, his family home and native parish; from post-revolutionary Ireland which has degenerated into political jobbery and bureaucratic squabbling; and from his political relations who batten upon the recently independent country. Father Conry has been banished to Kilbride, the poorest parish in the diocese … in pat becuase he was thought to have been a red priest during a labour dispute at the time of the Civil War. Conroy spends the novel trying to make his way back to Rosnagree by locating those he considers his rightful heirs, his dead brother’s anglicized children. This takes the ailing priest to England where he almost dies … as [his brother did]. But the priest’s sense of orphanhood and exile is most deeply felt in Kilbride itself and drives him to fantasy, panic, and illness. When he returns to Rosangree for the annual reunion of the diocesan priests who had been ordained and together, ‘like an emigrant returning to seek nourishment at his root,’ and there dies, it is as though to confirm the repeated lesson of the Irish novel and short story—that place is life. But all along, Rosnagree and the memory of its natural beauty have held Conroy’s weak self in thrall. We should be equally justified in regarding complete exil as life and place as fatality. The Hungry Grass demonstrates once more that [Irish geography of fiction] is a scenario of spiritual and intellectual entrapment, imagined escape, and fantasy or death.

3: Irish Modernism [1983]

In 1880 Standish James O’Grady published Vol 2 of his History of Ieland [...] although this high nonsensical work was a good deal laughed at by the more Anglophilic historians of TCD, it more inarguably set in motion the Irish Literary Revival … [he continues in effect: … which was (as it happens) co-terminous with the modernist innings 44] [44]

In ‘The Universal Literary Influence of the Renaissance’, Joyce identified the chief legacies of that cultural watershed as compassion and realism. Louis Berrone, Joyce in Padua (Random House 1977). Ostensibly he dismissed, actually he absorbed the medieval Irish sagas and heroic romances upon whose translation and adaptation the Irish Literary Revival rested. Despite their fitful, startling realism, the splendid stories of Cuchulain, Fenian, Myhological and Historical cycles must ultimately be understood in terms of narrative structure and code. The stories proceed by formula and convention, by rhetorical commonplaces, set-pieces, genealogies, etymologies, inventories, word-games, runs, teichoscopies, rhapsodies, lays, kennings, … The Irish sagas are cultural encyclopaedias.

4: Post-War Ulster Poetry—the English Connection [1985]

Starts with Alvarez review of Heaney’s Field Work. English difficulty in locating Irish writers. Sydney: ‘In our neighbour country Ireland, where truly learning goeth very bare, yet are their poets held in a devout reverence.’ (from Apologie for Poetry, 1595) [61].

Robert Greacan and Alex Comfort, eds. Lyra: An Anthology of New Lyric (1944)

Of Hobsbaum: ‘Through Hobsbaum, rather than Larkin, the values of the Movement were carried to Belfast (if I may rish a vector theory of literary influence) … Perhaps it was more like a devolution of poetical power.’ [71]

5: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney [1974]

Starts by asserting Heaney’s status as head and shoulders above his English younger British contemporaries; aligns him with the whole earth movement in the sense that his ‘working the earth’ has the same deep resource; ‘the ex-peasant, new urbanized, newly middle-class ..’; his early poetry as craft-learning (Death of a Naturalist) and occasionally inept. Digging in one for or another remains the archetypal act in Heaney’s poetry. [85]

For Heaney, obselescence can be a primal state and, insofar as the obsolete is preserved in custom, speech or bog, can exert an influence on the present. It is this obsolence-primality-negativeness of the Irish that will resurge. [93] Janus-faced Heaney—with reference to his (Anglo-)Irish and Movement connections.

For Heaney then the Irish language and culture are, after Joyce, not merely a river but female—vowel-vaginal, we might say, unlike the Anglo-Saxon tradition, which is male, terrestrial, phallic consonantial. [92]

Bibl.: PV Glob, The Bog People (1969); WG Wood-Martin, Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland (Longmans, London 1902); regarded by JWFoster as invaluable background reading for read of Heaney, illuminating ‘A Lough Neagh Sequence’; Also, Estyn Evans, Irish Heritage (Dundalk 1942).

He ends: If Heaney becomes the best Irish poet of his generation, it will be because he has remained true to as great an Irishness in diction,m setting and theme as he has already achieved, while taking the emotional risks of his great antecedent Yeats and his contemporary Kinsella. … Time, shall we say, to lay aside the spade and bring out the heavy machinery. ín the meantime, there is little contemporary poetry that has bettered the quality and fruitfulness of Heaney’s solitary digging; few poets have enlived their work with a more remarkable gift for seeing afresh the physical world around us and beneath us.

6: POETRY OF PATRICK KAVANAGH [1979], pp.97-113

Where Yeats magnified Ireland into the world, Kavanagh shrank Ireland into Shancoduff. Where Yeats saw in the fate of Ireland universal spirals and gyres, Kavanagh saw ‘the habitual, the banal.’ [102] … burnt all the bridges to group acceptance he could find [105]


Whether dissent and genuine culture are mutually exclusive, as Matthew Arnold believed. [115]

It is precisely because his Irishness is problematic that Hewitt’s worrying of the matter for decades has enabled him to forge the conscience of the Scots-Irish in Ireland, and this may be his chief significance. [118]

The rhyming weavers; dubbed Vernacular by Hewitt, they were lowly born and wrote in Scots or Ulster Scots dialect and often in Scots versification. H distinguishes them from the Colonial or Provincal Ulster poets who wrote in standard English.

.. the rich disclosures and concealments of Ulster Protestant traditions … [129]


Yeats was in Gloucestshire; his letters show that he smarted at not being consulted by the leaders, and regarded himself earnestly as a progenitor of 1916.

‘Easter 1916’ as a formidable attempt at appropriation. [133] … the personal response is voiced not only by the poet as Irish citzen and literary man harbouring doubts about a headstrong display of physical force, but also by the poet as composer of an intricate canon challenged (or granted the opportunity) by a violent public event to absorb it and still retain coherence. [134]

‘Too long a sacrifice/can make a stone of the heart’—Yeats was later to compare nationalist opinion with ‘a part of the mind turned to stone’ in Autobiographies.

Foster credits Yeats with a genius in moving between the theme of sacrifice and his personal, more quotidian involvement with the lesser signatories. He argues that the poem ‘ends dutifully honouring the platitude’ of the national martyr, common to all 1916 poems. But the genius is in ‘the unique, essential and superbly strategic Yeats … moving in that somewhat enigmatic territory between the named and the anonymous, broadcasting his part-condescensing, part-mythicizing demonstrative pronouns—That woman’s days … this man had kept a school … Yeats leaves room to insert himself into the event.

Yeats to Lady Gregory, even before Connolly and MacDairmada were executed: ‘I am trying to write a poem on the men executed—”terrible beauty has been born again”.’ Quoted in Jeffares Commentary.

‘the heroic, tragic lunacy of Sinn Fein’: Yeats, letter to Lady Gregory, quoted in Hone, p.299 [138]

Echoes from Pearse’s writings. The Fool’ is one background; ‘the Mother’ is another; and St. Pearse’s adoption of the famous words of Columcille, ‘If I die, it should be from the excess of love I bear the Gael.’ is a third: ‘And what if excess of love/Bewildered them till they died?’ [139]

Yeats’s phrase ‘terrible beauty’ echoes Pearse, The King: The terrible, beautiful voice that comes out of the heart of battles; but also The Story of A Success, .It is murder and death that make possible the terrible beautiful thing we call life’; but also, strangely, Sheridan Le Fanu: ‘Fionula the Cruel, the brightest, the worst/With a terrible beauty the vision accurst ..’ These findings are made by Mitchell and Dalton [see notes]. [140] Bibl. Towey Mitchell, ‘Yeats, Pearse, and Cuchulain’, Eire-Ireland XI, No. 4 (1’976), 51-65; GF Dalton, ‘the Tradition of Blood Sacrifice to the goddess Eire’, Studies LXIII (Winter 1974).

‘Easter 1916’ has been called a palinode to ‘September 1913’. [141] … but it is not clear … that Yeats committed himself to the idea that old heroism had been revived in the GPO. … Has romantic Ireland returned, or has a third, unknown thing been born? [142]


‘.. without exploring as honestly and sympathetically as possible the cultural differences between Protestant and Catholic, I believe we may never forge a genuine cultural synthesis in Ireland.’

.. Among other things, there is the peculiarly vivi way in which we can inhabit, in the poetry of Hewitt, Murphy, and Montague, the warring topographies of the Irish imagination, that landscape in whose parts all of us in Ireland at times find ourselves strangers and afraid. [166]

10: HEANEY’S REDRESS [new essay]

Heaney’s progress since the last essay: a sense of manifest destiny. The Government of the Tongue demonstrating ‘the reality of poetry in the world.’

Heaney has largely ignored the Protestant making of the north-east Ulster into its once-distinctive industriousness. … Heaney admires those who ‘beat real iron out’ but in Ireland it was most commonly the Ulster Scot who beat real iron out and who took fierce pride in workmanship. I sometimes fear that in future Heaney and Ulster will become synomous, the way that Yeats and Ireland became synomous for American scholars who took their Irish history from the poet. In fact, large tracts of Ulster, both [177 ]

[...]. in Heaney we can detect a nostalgia for pre-colonial unity, a recurring strain in Ulster Catholic writing. [...] Certainly there is in Heaney an instinct for propitiation and spiritual intercession as deep as his instinct for retreat and neutrality, a desire to turn dew into holy water, to make poetry a ceremony of assuagement. [181]

In the 1978 radio talk, ‘The God in the Tree’, reprinted in Preoccupations, Heaney discusses medieval Irish nature poetry, including Buile Suibhne, and locates the origin of poetry in the pagan, feminine mysteries of the grove. [184]

JWF talks of a Copernican revolution in Heaney’s poetry: a shift from poetics of excavation to that of light, from earth to air. [188] … [looking at Government] the uprooted is now privileged; so too are absence, placelessness, the unsaid, impersonality, weightlessness, vision, even dream—all most un-Heaney-like. Kavanagh is re-evaluated and found to have moved from substantial, local and self-expressive poetry to a weightless, placeless self-mastery. This is not a reading that convinces me, but aligns with Heaney’s current ‘stance towards life’. [193]

.. The necessity for reification and the longing for rarification creating a fresh duality in the verse. [195] … now the ideal alternative to danger is purity, not the messier business of relishable antiquity. [195]

He has employed this allegory [the troubled history of the North] even though poetry is its highest form is judged to have ‘cleared’ or surmounted politics. … But even if politics are in the best poetry sublimated (hence the imagery of light, air, flight?), Heaney has always intended his poetry [197] to be, and indeed it is, a political poetry of considerable oblique power.

[This essay deals insistently with the gendering of Heaney’s poetry.] Clearly a kind of sexual redress is underway … from the beginning. Veneration of the female and the repeated return to the mother, accompanied by an underestimation (or repressed overestimation?) of the male gives way, not so far to an active search for the father … but to a less personal search for poetic maleness that will not offend the female deities of his poetry (Ireland, the muse, the goddess of the the fen). [198]

.. the Catholicism by which [his] progress is charted is a religious redress within the context of these islands where Catholicism, Ireland, and minority nationalism are almost synonymous. … That it is an Irishman, and an Ulsterman to boot, who is currently framing in practice and theory the constitution of mainstream poetry in these islands is a cultural redress of remarkable proportions [203].

10. A Complex Fate: Denis O’Donoghue: ‘We Irish’

Like other essays in the collection, it turns crucially on this critic’s view of Yeats, summarised by Foster as follows: ‘The battle with Yeats is beginning to resemble The Everylasting Fight. He is the nationalist the critics want and the higher-class Protestant they don’t want.’ [212]


The failure of Irish society is the failure of criticism. … the failure of objectivity … and the failure of reflection and self-examination [215]

The passing of the Anglo-Irish has at once fractionalized, and simplified and deadlocked the issue by leaving the field to two antagonistic Irelands in need of education. [216]

discursive plurality … unprecedented promise of a genuine new critical sphere in which we will one day discuss Ulster without rancour, sectarianism, radical prescription, or atavism. [216]

Deane warns that the adoption of merely cosmopolitan pluralism would lead to the ‘harmony of indifference.’ [218] But ???

Of Kiberd: how disappointing that someone so alert, so correctly alert, to the stereotyping of the Irish by the English should resort to the very mental process he deprecates in order to solve the Ulster question [by characterising the Ulster unionist as a monolithic form of ignorance and prejudice]. [221]

Field Day subtext: the repudiation of the political union of GB and NI. … The pamphlets are politics by other means … variations on the nationalist theme … chromatic and resourceful. [222]

The Free State came about only after 40 years of cultural preparation. By 1920 Ireland had asserted sufficiently different culture, according to the people who turned out to be the ones that mattered—including, let us take note, the Anglo-Irish … in Ulster … there has been no cultural preparation for a united Ireland whatsoever. [223-224]

JWF: My argument [is that] inadaquacy in our cultural knowledge and our criticism vitiates our thinking on Ulster, and is encouraged by political prejudgement. [226]

Gabriel Conroy in Joyce’s great story, ‘The Dead’, earns his selfhood by confronting and absorbing the cultural forces that seek to impede him as well as sustain him. [229]

mine is, unashamedly, the old liberal humanism … prepared to entertain, if not permit, its own supersession [230] … the autonomous individual may be a bourgeois humanist fantasy, but many of us in Ireland would like to enjoy that fantasy, that you very much. [231]


The Ireland invented by the Lit. Revival and foisted on posterity [was] rural, traditionalist, conservative, anti- European, provincial and anti-individualist. (Kiberd) [236] I have affirmed in Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival that there were writers who were portraying Ireland as she was, but writers who were not part of the Revival itself. [236]

‘Thus we may say that the modernist tendency of certain Irish writers, artists, and intellectuals represents a shift away from the cultural naionalism, of the revival to a cultural internationalism committed to formal and critical experimentation’ … ‘an advanced secular nation-state of the European kind.’ [237] ‘Fifth Province … where the divisions of the four political provinces might be confronted and resolved.’ [240] (Kearney’s wishful thinking)

Fennell: nationalism, liberalism, then post-nationalism. [240]

what we urgently need is a pyschology of sectarianism … a raising of consciousness comparable to the consciousness shift brought about in America and Europe by feminism [244]

George Moore said that the tragedy of Ireland is that people live and die without realising he qualities they have. [245]


In this essay, Foster goes through the various marks—Mk I to V—of Irishness.

JWF distinguishes three types of answer: the Berkeley answer: Anglo-Irish as disempowered, and therefore—for rhetorical purposes at least—equatable with the mere Irish (Mark I); the republicans of the dissenting tradition (Mark II), and finally, the Catholic English-speaking democratic petty bourgeois Irish of O’Connell (Mark II).

.. Yeats saw no excitement in O’Connellite Ireland. It was Joyce who was its chief laureate. We see it vividly in his middle class Dublin verions (and in O’Casey’s working class or non-working class Dublin versions) as a through-out affair, its literature and music and received wisdom scrappy, half English, half Irish, handed down from above and beyond. A world without cultural, moral or spiritual integrity, whose centre is its reflex Catholicism or perhaps merely its volubility, its entertaining, consoling, hollow eloquence, all else precarious and piecemeal. … It has changed since Joyce and O’Casey, of course, but still recognisable … [251]

The Anglo-Irish leaders of the Revival when they extolled the peasant discounted the lowly, workaday Catholicism of the peasant, preferring to see below this a pagan spirituality. … So Protestantism and high birth, nominally dropped as criteria for Irishness, were smuggled back into the Revival concept. As for the Gaelic language, the Gaelic Legue ensured that some genuine revival took place, but this meant introducing a qualification for Irishness that most of the Revivalists themselves, including Yeats, AE, Standish James O’Grady, and James Stephens, could not, or would not, meet, and so the qualification had to wait for proper elevation after the Revival. [252]

.. disdain for Ulster Yeats exhibited, with its nasty undisguised urbanism of Belfast, its filthy industrialism, its contemptible Protestant low-church non-conformity. [253]

Quotes Hyde, De-Anglicisation of Ireland: ‘the continuity of the Irishism of Ireland … in the north-east of Ulster, where the Gaelic race was expelled and the land planted with aliens, who our dear mother Erin, assimilative as she is, has hitherto found difficult to absorb..’, and comments: Where unassimiliated Gaelicism was a virtue, unassimilated Scots-Irishness was a vice. Further comment is unnecessary, beyond reminding readers that Hyde became the first President of the Irish Republic, embodiment of the highest ideals of the state. [253]

The emerging coalition [of Anglo-Irish and Catholic nationalist writers] developed a synthetic and triumphantly eloquent cultural nationalism … a definition … of Irish culture and Irish nationality … A faction of the Anglo- Irish made common cause with a faction of the Irish, and in the process certain unwelcome and inconvenient Irelands were ignored or misnterpreted; petit-bourgeois and small-farmer Catholic Ireland that dominated the island interms of population (and still does); the Ireland known to James Joyce, Brinsley MacNamara, DP Moran, and later Flann O’Brien and Patrk. Kavanagh ..

Corkery dissolved the partnership [with the Anglo-Irish] unilaterally [and introduced] the qualification of Catholicism. … It proved to be the winning definition. [254]

JWF makes repeated use of Clare O’Halloran’s Partition and the Limits of Irish Nationalism (1987), from which the passages: ‘Unionists were to be considered Irish for purposes of the claim of national unity comprising the whole island as the national territory, and yet foreign when their views or actions were seen as contrary to Irish nationalist ideology and stated expectations.’ Thus Partition in 1921 was not some devilish sundering of the island imposed from without but … the culmination on the nationalist side of long-prepared events.

This becomes a rather strained and pained essay, and something uncomfortable is going on when he sketches the ambivalence aroused at an Irish literary convention: ‘the concentric circles of Irishness narrow and shrink, the real Irish receding … into a dark centre … the Prods and English meanwhile affecting sheepish grins and bottomless ethic empathy, faking away like mad!’ [257]

[Since the Anglo-Irish Treaty] The polarisation of Northern society now extends ominousbly upwards from the back streets to the university. [258]

The necessary redefinition of Irishness: Calls for the ‘de-Hydration’ of Ireland [260]. On the other side: … ‘eventually loyalists will have to admit the contractual, convenient, conditional nature of their fealty to the Crown. [261] The Anglo-Irish Agreement … imposed … an imposition which ought to go.

Nice note on Durcan: ‘Maggie Thatcher will not stand between me and John Dryden.’ He had expanded the definition of Irishness, not in an act of renegation, but in an act of enlargement and freedom. And at that moment he became for me a fellow Irishman. [261]


The settlers, Hugh Roberts (Northern Ireland and the Algerian Analogy: A Suitable Case for Gaullism?, Athol Books Belfast 1986) reminds us, ‘were independent, voluntary migrants from the Scottish Lowlands … quit unlike the transported settlers in Australia and Algeria and very like the first English settlers in America.’ … fairly autonomous, un-British nature. [264]

.. But we were British in a special sense … we required Britain that she constitute a differenet ‘never intimately known ideal, but also an ideal immutable and sheltered from time’ (as Memmi says in The Colonizer and the Colonized, trans. Howard Greenfield, intro. JP Sartre (NY 1965).

Irish Literary Revival: ‘the colonizer who refuses’ (Memmi) [268].

Memmi: ‘Formalism of which religious formality is only one aspect, is the cyst into which colonial society shuts itself and hardens, degrading its own life in order to save it. It is a spontaneous action of self-defence, a means of safeguarding the collective consciousness without whcih a people quickly cease to exist.’

the flight of the literati, Moore, Eglington, Stephens, O’Casy, and AE, a principled exodus … [which] casts some doubt on the indigenity of the Literary Revival. [269]

As far as I know, Dubliners has never been fully discussed for the classic profile of the culture and pyschology of the colonised, of the pathology of colonialism, it actually is. … Roman and British … [269]

Joxer Daly, a human magpie … without cultural and therefore moral integrity [270]

Corkery: No sooner does [the Irish child] begin to use his intellect than what he learns begins to undermine, to weaken, and to harrass his emotiona nature. For practically all that he reads is in English—what he reads in Irish is not yet worth taking account of. It does not therefore focus the mind of his own people, teaching him the better to look about him, to understand both himself and his surroundings. It focuses instead the life of another people. Instead of sharpening his gaze upon his own neighbourhood, his reading distracts it, for he cannot find in these surroundings what his reading has taught him is the matter worth coming upon. His surroundings begin to seem to him unvital. His education, instead of refining and buttressing his emotional nature, teaches him rather to despise it, inasmuch as it teaches him not to see the surroundings out of which he is sprung, as they are in themselves, but as compared with alien surroundings; his education provides him with an alien medium through which he is henceforth to look at his native land! At the least his education sets up a dispute between his intellect and his emotions. Nothing happens in the neighbourhood of an English boy’s home that he will not sooner or later find happening, transfigured, in literature. What happens in the neighbourhood of an Irish boy’s home—the fair, the hurling match, land grabbing, the priesting, the mission, the Mass—he never comes on in literature; that is, in such literature as he is told to respect and learn … In his ripers years he may come to see the crassness of his own upbringing, but of course the damage is done; his mind is cast in an unnatural because unnative mould. (Synge and Anlo-Irish Literature, 1931; 1965).

JWF: It was slowly I untaught myself that contempt for the imagination of one’s own country which is a form of self-contempt … our debt to Northern Ireland writers of the past twnety years is immense. [273]

But why is it that Northerners … have blushed to assert their imaginative potential … no intellectal class in Ulster since the 129th c.? … there is a connected reluctance to write about the middle class [274]

.. a grave injustice down to the novel Judith Hearne by translating it for film to Dublin. [275]

.. the unexamined assumption that whereas republicanism is intellectually respectable and artistically fruitful, unionism is barren and artistically stultifying … The Protestant intellectual seems to flee himself in fear of his own bigotry. [275]

We are coming from behind, and have to attain ourselves before we have the confidence to extend generosity, to leave the refuge and prison that sectarianism is. [277]


.. first the regional identity itself must be won [279] … ‘a natural region’ (TW Freeman) … the natural regional framework of the island …

In 1985 regional autonomy was further depleted by the Anglo-Irish Agreement. … [But] it would be perverse to regret the aeration of the unionist cyst that Direct Rule and the Anglo-Irish Agreement represented. [283]

Bibl.: JFW much influenced by Tom Nairn’s The Break Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism (1981).

Suspicious if the Ireland Funds and their commitment to ‘develop[ing] Ireland’s unique cultural heritage’, since that sounds like a redundant activity. [288]

In 1981 George Melnyk published Radical Regionalism which I read with great interest … [as providing me] with some imaginative potential for thinking about Ulster. [293]

For a long time the Ulster people have suffered the twin psychological colonialisms of Irish nationalism and British nationality that have falsified their consciousness and diverted them from the true task of self-realization. Under this false consciousness they have persisted in perceiving fellow inhabitants of Ulster as ‘them’, as ‘the others’. These two colonialisms rest on the demonstrably false propositions that Northern Ireland is as British as Finchley, and that Ireland is, now or imminently, one country. [294]

.. we do not of course which for a synthetic non-sectarian Ulster culture, which some agencies are busy trying to bring about. Rather, we want the natural culture of Ulster to be percieved and encouraged, ager the veils of outside causes and dogma have been dropped. [289; END]

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