Kevin Whelan, ‘The bases of Regionalism’, in Prionsias Ó Drisceoil, ed., Culture in Ireland - Regions: Identity and Power [Proceedings of the Cultures of Ireland Group Conference] (Belfast: QUB/IIS 1993)

‘The very idea of regionalism, with its emphasis on inherited rather than acquired identities forcefeeds the atavistic appetities of tradition - the backward glance, where, in Auden’s terms, traditino becomes a democracy of the dead, not the living, and in Marxian formulation, the dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the brain of the living. The appeal to regionalism can easily be construed as an appeal to conservatisim, a Burkean sedative to lull the little platoons into a big sleep. In Burke’s formulation, the region respresents the integrity of traditional society and its local loyalties, and it can be set against abstract universalising claims, which vilate the customary affections and rooted relations which make society adhesive and stable. Any political system which placed abstract principles or claims above those of family, community or region would inevitably lack the crucial binding force that gives political systems their endurance - the affection and acquiescence of the people living under them. In Burkean terms, therefore, one must weigh the primacy and potency of a particularist past against the rational, progressive and utopian claims of the enlightenment modernisation project, with its appeal to the cosmopolitan future.’ [q.p.]

The family farm, the smallest and most potent vector of the territorial imperative in the Irish experience. [5]; emphasises the still living significance of the townland as the seat of dinnseachas. [6]

The classic celebration of the townland’s centrality is Patrick Kavanagh’s “Epic”, where the townland names of Ballyrush and Gortin carry the cahrge, authority and resonance of the poem, especially as balanced against Munich. Kavanagh deplys the intimate territoriality of the townland and the Duffy’s and theMcCabes’micro-empire against themacro European empire and their territoriality theatre of the Second World War. He does not find the townland strategy wanting. [9]

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