Brian de Breffny, ed., The Irish World: The History and Cultural Achievements of the Irish People (London: Thames & Hudson 1977), 296pp.

CONTENTS, Foreword, de Breffny [6] Introduction, The Irish - Fact and Fiction, E Estyn Evans [7]; Prehistoric Ireland, from the earliest migrations to about 500, Evans [19]; The Early Irish Church, from the coming of Christianity to the end of the Viking Era, Kathleen Hughes [47]; The Long Middle Ages, from the twelfth century to the Reformation, Roger Stalley [71]; The End of the Old Order, from the Reformation to the Jacobite defeat, Brian de Breffny' [99];The New Culture, domestic life and the arts 1680-1830, Rosemary Ffolliett [127]; Painting and Sculpture, Ann Crookshank [164]; The Distressed Society, the struggle for emancipation and independence, Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh [171]; The Celtic Revival, literature and the theatre, Philip L. Marcus [199]; The Visual Arts, Jeanne Sheehy [226]; The Irish in American, William V. Shannon [235]; Modern Ireland, the birth and growth of the new state, Kevin B. Nowlan [255]; map of Ireland; sel. bibl., sources; index.

De Breffny: 'The psychic bond which made the people into a spiritual and physical unit was forged, in his opinion [Professor O'Driscoll of Toronto Univ.], not by the nationalist politicians but by the writers and artists who transformed a distant, even fictional, national past into a living presence in the Irish mind.' [6]

Quotes Louis MacNeice's Autumn Journal (‘Why do we like being Irish?’): It gives us a hold on the sentimental English/As members of a world that never was,/Baptised with fairly water;/And partly because Ireland is small enough/To be still thought of as with family feeling,/And because the waves are rough/That split her from a more commercial culture;/And because one feels that here one can do local work that is not at the world’ mercy/And that on this tiny stage with luck a man/Might see the end of one particular action./It is self-deception of course;/There is no immunity on this island either;/A cart that is drawn by someone’s else’s horse/And carrying goods to someone else’s market./The bombs in the turnip sack, the sniper from the roof/Griffith, Connolly, Collins, where have they brought us?/Ourselves alone! Let the round tower stand aloof/In a world of bursting mortar!/Let the children fumble their sums in a half-dead language;/Let the censor be busy on the books; pull down the Georgian slums;/Let the games be played in Gaelic. Let them grow beet sugar; let them build/A factory in every hamlet;/Let them pigeon-hole the souls of the killed/into sheep and goats, patriots and traitors.’

Estyn Evans

Whereas the English saw nothing but barbarism and obscurity in Ireland before the coming of the Anglo-Normans, the Irish cherished their ancient literature, and the pseudo-history of the annals was uncritically espoused by romantic nationalists such as the new Irelanders; and, astonishingly, it long remained the standard textbook version of early Irish history and has kept alive dangerous passions of pride and hatred .. it is hard for the Englishman to comprehend the Irishman's view of the past, for all time appears to be foreshortened into the living present [8]

Quotes Praeger, ‘We Irish .... can never let the past bury its dead. Finn McCoul and Brian Boru are still with us ... the Battle of the Boyne was fought last Thursday week, and Cromwell trampled and slaughtered in Ireland towards the latter end of the preceding month.’ [(no source; 8]

Evans: A ring of uplands encircles a great part of Ireland, often ending in spectacular sea-cliffs ... [8] 'The central lowland might have been a means of contact between the inhabitants of early Ireland. Instead they were a means of division, being broken up by spurs of mountain and large areas of impassable bog. Except in a few favoured areas, agriculture has counted for less than stock-raising. [caption to ill. Pp.10-11.]

A great swarm of drumlins - one of the largest in the world - traverses Ireland in a broad loop from south co. Donegal to Co. Down, representing the dumping of glacial clay and boulders as the ice-sheets tumbled from the Ulster uplands towards the Central lowland. Archaeologically, this difficult border country was late opened up to settlement, and had much to with the historical isolation of the province of Ulster from the rest of the island. [13]

'the Farewell State' [14]

legends grew around every element in the environment, whether natural or man-made, and as might be expected there is a wealth of lore associated with the milch-cow. [15]

in general early Irish art is abstract and non-representational, and characterised by a superstitious horror vacui. [15]

It is doubtful if the poverty of folk art as compared with that of most other parts of Europe can be attributed to the evil effects of conquest and the social submergence of the native people. Rather, the genius of the Irish has been expressed in spiritual forms, above all in poetry and the cultivation of conversation and storytelling as a fine art. [15]

Sexual repression has been seen by some critics as partly responsible for such varied traits as the prevalence of alcoholism, the fondness for intrigue and mischief-making, the sadism evidenced in the harsh treatment of animals and the appalling acts of violence committed in the name of political ideologies; but it must be said that these characteristics were all commented on long before the devotional revolution. [17]

Evans (Chap. 1.) There is some evidence to suggest that the crisis through which Ireland and much of Europe nothing of the Alps was passing in the period of change during the second half of the last millennium BC was accompanied and aggravated by climatic deterioration and the growth of blanket-bogs in what is termed the sub-Atlantic period. Nature, however, may not be entirely to blame for the Iris blanket-bogs. Man himself, by prolonged attacks on the forest cover, and by overgrazing and over-intensive cultivation of long-settled patches of land, may have been partly responsible for his deteriorating environment. In sever parts of western Ireland extensive walled enclosures, some with unmistakable traces of ridge cultivation, have been discovered buried under vast stretches of blanket-bog which may well hide other remains, and it is argued that the leaching of the exposed over-cultivated soil could by itself have resulted in the formation of iron-pan with subsequent water-logging and the initiation of the bog forming process. The normal climate of western Ireland, in this view, is so near the point of being too wet for profitable arable husbandry that the upsetting of the ecological balance maybe as easily explained by human carelessness or excess as by climatic change. Later on it was no doubt partly because the alien potato ripened underground, was adapted to poor acid soils, and did not depend on good harvest weather, that it was eagerly adopted as a staple food-crop in this and other damp, infertile parts of Europe. [41]

it has been pointed out that Gaelic society here in the far west retained many features which could be parelleled in another peripheral part of the Indo-European world - India. For example,the custom of ‘fasting unto death’ as a meansof redress is not quite defunct either in Ireland or in India. More particularly, the druids, who were charged with the task of transmitting judicial as well as scared learning, had their counterpart in the highest caste of Hinduism, the Brahmins. [45]

learned itineracy [46]

Book of Kells, “Arrest of Christ”, with text, ‘Et ymno dicto exierunt in montem Oliverti [And after reciting a hymn they went out into the Mount of Olives].’

Mellifont 1142

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