"The Irish Celebrating" is a collection of essays which focuses on the complex dynamics of celebrating, its significance and its scope, through Ireland's past and present experience. This book studies the dual aspects of celebrating - 'the festive' ...
and 'the tragic' - which, while not necessarily functioning as a binary opposition, have long proved mutually constitutive of the Irish experience. Many different occasions and ways of celebrating are explored, be they associated with feasts, festivals, commemorations, re-enactments or mere merry-making. Irish literature abounds with motifs, symbols, allusions and devices that stand as ample testimony to the essential part played by celebration in the creative process. Both the treatment of mythical themes and figures, and the perception of contrasted realities and moods, all linked in some way or another with celebrating, are examined in the works of Irish novelists, poets and playwrights. If celebrations undeniably had a crucial role to play throughout Ireland's troubled past, they continue to shape Irish society today, part and parcel of the deep social, economic and cultural changes it is currently experiencing. New representations of Irish identity as they are expressed through new forms of celebrating are explored in such varied contexts as emigration and immigration, alcohol addiction, church allegiance and European membership. The way the nationalist and unionist communities have been celebrating their past in Northern Ireland, often complacently and ostentatiously, is a theme dealt with in the final section of this collection. Irish, English, French, Spanish, Italian and American scholars apply a broad range of interdisciplinary expertise to original and illuminating essays which will undoubtedly provoke a new insight into the interplay between current trends and issues and the long-established patterns that thread through the volume.