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Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

It is 6 o’clock on a slightly overcast day in October. The air is still and heavy — almost dead. Yet it tingles with a palpable sense of happening — an electricity that zaps the mind and fires the senses. It is bracing but not cold. The sun is beginning to set, casting its final rays before the shadows creep claim dominion. The spectre of wonder opens its wings and gathers up all in its grasp. Windows are glowing like eyes — each a weirder eye with weirder apparitions dancing before the light. From porches other eyes peer, shimmering and glinting by candlelight. The doors are shut tight to the chill in the air, but soon they shall open and greet strange beings that will, just as quickly as they came, scurry away into the night. …


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The ocean was silent. It always was. Jud could never figure out what about this town’s coastline made the waves lap so silently against the rocks. It was deafening in its slow, gentle ebb and flow. He stood out on the walkway when he wanted to feel something, anything other than the dreary emptiness he faced with each new day. The lighthouse life was one of loneliness for Jud Bench. The long, monotonous days were broken only by meals and the turning on of the beacon. These were the things that gave his day any sense of time and worth. …


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Project Arts Centre, Temple Bar, Dublin.

In her 1980 book, Terpsichore in Sneakers: Post-Modern Dance, Sally Banes writes: “[…] reacting against the expressionism of modern dance, which anchored movement to a literary idea or musical form, the post-modernists propose […] that the purpose of making dances might be simply to […] look at movement for its own sake.”¹ The subject of this analysis could certainly sometimes feel like a piece designed for the sake of movement alone, but functions instead as a pensive musing on the fragility of memory and the self. …


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Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Avant-garde in its noun form refers to “an intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts.”¹ And translated from the French the phrase literally means “fore-guard.” The avant-garde is at the forefront of theatrical experimentation, as well as experimentation in the wider arts. Avant-garde practitioners explore the possibilities in their art forms, with theatrical practitioners pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre. This ranges from the stage space to the scenography, to the movement, and to the location of performance. An important feature of avant-garde theatre is the way in which space is utilised; through the use of space, whether on stage or in a location, a practitioner can communicate meaning and purposeful purposelessness. Though the avant-garde moves away from text-based works there can still be a sense of meaning in the way a scene is presented to the spectator. …


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The final paragraph of the titular story of this collection includes the following two sentences: “Putting down the bucket, she gazed up at the night sky. There were stars, millions of them, the familiar constellations she had known since childhood.” Among the countless hopeful new writers in the Irish literary scene, Danielle McLaughlin soars above the majority with this collection of short stories. With prose that borders on simplistic, McLaughlin manages to deftly capture a wide range of human emotions and actions. …


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‘Emigrants Leave Ireland’, engraving by Henry Doyle, from Mary Frances Cusack’s Illustrated History of Ireland, 1868

Leavings and returns occupy a large place within the Irish psyche, and by extension, creative works by Irish creators. As a country that has experienced an influx of people from foreign nations in its early history as well as waves of emigration, this is no surprise. To this day the Irish diaspora maintains a strong link to the country; the first American movie to be filmed on location abroad was Kalem’s The Lad from Old Ireland in 1910 and was a great success with Irish immigrants in America, leading to further productions such as The Colleen Bawn in 1911. As a result of this sense of movement, the concept of leaving and returning is ingrained within Irish culture and identity — it is considered normal for Irish people to move abroad to seek work and success (America and Australia seem to be especially popular). But it is possible to open up this subject beyond this simplistic view. What does it mean to leave? What does it mean to return? What are the boundaries that dictate what these even are? For the purpose of this essay, we will take a look at two texts: Foster by Claire Keegan, and The Green Road by Anne Enright. …


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Picture it: you have decided to start watching a new show, you get into the swing of things, start feeling the vibe they’re giving, then a character appears and there’s a sudden flash as you realise that in this character you see yourself. This can be for any number of reasons but at its core is the sensation of being seen and validated. This is what happened to me when the character of Sam Eliot was introduced in Netflix’s The Society. Now picture this: you’re excited for the second season, you’re following any announcement that comes along, then it is suddenly cancelled two weeks before the second season is due to start filming. …


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1799 map of Ireland by the English map publisher Clement Cruttwell (detail)

Ever since the arrival of the first Norman knights in the 12th century, the island of Ireland has seen a substantial amount of conflict. From struggles with foreign powers and rulers to conflict within itself. As a result of the many centuries of conflict, the country developed into one of sharply drawn divisions even between fellow Irishmen and women; this conflict is to be found in the works of Irish authors, who either directly or indirectly addressed these issues. Beyond these divisions within communities, there are also divisions within the self. Irish literature has long dealt with ideas of separation, from the concurrent existence of magical worlds alongside the natural world in Irish mythology, to the controversial condemnation of gossip in Brinsley MacNamara’s The Valley of the Squinting Windows. For the purposes of this essay, the author will examine On being asked for a War Poem, Easter 1916, and Ego Dominus Tuus by W.B. …


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Photo by Victoria Strukovskaya on Unsplash

In the Irish tale of Oisín and Patrick, the main character, regarded in legend as Ireland’s greatest poet, returns from Tir na nÓg to his home after what to him has been three years, only to find that far longer has passed: “Some say it was hundreds of years he was in the Country of the Young, and some say it was thousands of years he was in it; but whatever time it was, it seemed short to him” (Gods and Fighting Men, Lady Gregory). He finds that the Fianna has long since disbanded and passed into legend. …


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In the dedication page of Gods and Fighting Men, Lady Gregory writes: “We would not give up our own country — Ireland — if we were to get the whole world as an estate, and the Country of the Young along with it.” This is a telling quote, given how folklore has been used by collectors in order to establish a sense of national identity, particularly (in the context of this essay) during the Irish Literary Revival. After centuries of suffering under British colonialism, leading to a steep decline in the use of the native Irish language, many folklorists and those in the literary scene looked to the surviving elements of Ireland’s past to both preserve them and re-build Ireland as they thought it could be, not as it was. …

About

Alan Corley

Writer — Folklorist — Film buff — UCD Graduate

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