It’s all too easy to view the arts in Ireland either through the dark mirror of its turbulent relationship with England or through the equally distorting prism of “emerald isle” fantasies, beloved by generations of Hollywood filmmakers. Fionna Barber’s beautiful study of the visual arts in Ireland from 1910 through to the first decade of the 21st century addresses a whole range of factors that were playing upon the work of artists over the last 100 years. From the “troubles” at home through to the impact of feminism and the effects of the Irish diaspora on the work of individual artists, the landscape of Irish visual culture has been radically transformed throughout this most transformative century.
Photography, like painting, can be used to document or reinvent, depending on the intention of the photographer. Introduced to Ireland in 1839, the photographic image quickly became a tool for the romanticising of the landscape and way of life, as well as a method of portraiture more accessible to the middle class than traditional forms. This well illustrated study shows the role photography has taken in reflecting the changes that have occurred in Ireland across two very different centuries, demonstrating the ways in which it has fulfilled a multitude of aesthetic, documentary and political functions.
Revival : the Abbey Theatre, Sinn Féin, the Gaelic League, and the co-operative movement byP.J. Mathews
So much of what transformed Irish culture, politics and society in the 20th century had its roots in movements that first flourished in the latter stages of the 19th century. The call for home rule, the revival of the Gaelic language, the desire to see Irish truth reflected in Irish writing, these all came from individuals and movements whose voices and influence were growing increasingly insistent. This scholarly study demonstrates how a number of these different movements helped in the formation of modern Ireland.
If you’re looking for surveys of Irish culture that encompass both traditional and contemporary issues, these two volumes are available in our Redmond Barry Reading Room. Everything from the history of art, music, theatre and film to the role of women, the position of the Catholic Church and the influence of the great Irish diaspora at home and abroad.
From a pub in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish music doesn’t come much more traditional, or toe tapping, than this. Grand!