The essays in this collection examine Ireland at war and peace from the Revival period to the present day, examining key aspects of Irish literature and history—culturally rich but politically turbulent—from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. Ireland at War and Peace examines important social, political and aesthetic contexts which have shaped modern Irish society and culture, from the First World War and the Easter Rising of 1916 through to the Troubles and beyond. A key focus is on the ideological and artistic significance of Irish culture in a wide sense; the volume includes essays on the cultural significance of commodity culture and advertising in Ireland, images of the child in Irish culture, the importance of the horse in the Irish imagination, and the manner in which narratives of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Irish uprising, execution and imprisonment informed Irish theatre both before and after the 1916 Uprising.The book’s dual focus is exemplified in its opening essays on Padraig Pearse as both rebel-rousing separatist polemicist and Volunteer leader, and on his related careers as dramatist, story writer and educationalist. Subsequent essays deal with Yeats and the Easter Rising, consumer culture in James Joyce’s Ulysses, the riotous reception afforded J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World and Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars, and Samuel Beckett’s vexed relationship with his homeland. There are also important essays here on the contemporary Irish writers Seamus Heaney and Deirdre Madden. The focus of the collection is wide, ranging from canonical literary figures such as Joyce, Beckett, and Yeats, modern-day authors such as Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, through to popular-cultural phenomena from Dion Boucicault’s nineteenth-century melodrama Robert Emmet, to Alan Parker’s movie of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments and that great Irish sitcom Father Ted.
Alison O’Malley-Younger is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Sunderland.John Strachan is Professor of English Literature at the University of Sunderland.