Irish Studies (Scholarly Articles)

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  • Publication
    The man and his music: Gender representation, cultural capital and the Irish traditional music canon
    (International Council for Traditional Music Ireland (ICTM Ireland), 2021-03-27) Commins, Verena
    Through a re-examination of canonical Irish traditional music texts and the music-making spaces and practices these inform, this paper proposes that Irish traditional music, as social practice, has normalised hegemonic power structures and relationships, and further, finds that these texts consolidate gender bias, prejudice and discrimination in ensuing practices. Power and authority inherent in music practices and linked to cultural identity and status are a significant form of cultural capital, revealing, amongst other things the complexity of relations between gender symbolism, gendered social organisation and the diversity of gendered dispositions in society. Restrictions to cultural capital accumulation created by gender inequality in the performance and documentation of Irish traditional music practice is highlighted and Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital is employed to address ongoing social implications of the reproduction of gender inequality in Irish traditional music practice.
  • Publication
    "Ní cathair mar a tuairisg í": (Mis)Representing the American city in the literature of the Gaelic Revival?
    (Irish American Cultural Institute, 2018) Aiken, Síobhra
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    ‘Sinn Féin permits … in the heels of their shoes’: Cumann na mBan emigrants and transatlantic revolutionary exchange
    (Cambridge University Press, 2020-08-11) Aiken, Síobhra
    The emigration of female revolutionary activists has largely eluded historical studies; their global movements transcend dominant national and regional conceptions of the Irish Revolution and challenge established narratives of political exile which are often cast in masculine terms. Drawing on Cumann na mBan nominal rolls and U.S. immigration records, this article investigates the scale of post-Civil War Cumann na mBan emigration and evaluates the geographical origins, timing and push-pull factors that defined their migration. Focusing on the United States in particular, it also measures the impact of the emigration and return migration of female revolutionaries during the revolutionary period and in its immediate aftermath on both the republican movement in Ireland and the fractured political landscapes of Irish America. Ultimately, this article argues that the cooperative transatlantic exchange networks of Cumann na mBan, and the consciously gendered revolutionary discourse they assisted in propagating in the diaspora, were integral to supporting the Irish Revolution at home and abroad.
  • Publication
    From Milan to Kilbaha: Bronzing Irish traditional music
    (Irish American Cultural Institute, 2019) Commins, Verena
    Monuments represent important anchoring devices, tying “collective remembering” to physical places and mobilizing a sense of shared memory and identity consolidation (Rowlands and Tilley 500).1 In the specifically Irish context of the last half-century, the types of events and people remembered by this process of monumentalization has changed significantly. Yet as the current decade of centenaries (2012–22) demonstrates, the erection of monuments persists in constituting a significant backdrop for both the representation and framing of national and local identities in public spaces (Commins, “Musical Statues”). Demonstrating their agency as devices to (re) create emotional bonds with particular histories and geographies, monuments focus attention on specific places and events, offering spatial and temporal landmarks loaded with memory. Situating itself within a body of work examining the growth of this monumental culture within Ireland (Breathnach-Lynch; Hill; Johnson; P. Murphy, “Introduction”; Whelan), this article examines Irish traditional music as a cultural channel that has more recently come to embrace monumentphilia. It considers the particular intersections of collective memory with local and national identity (and identities) as represented by monuments specifically raised to commemorate and celebrate Irish traditional musicians. In a rapidly changing world in which identities are increasingly fluid, the subsequent perception that cultures are becoming homogenized or indistinguishable from one another is widely shared (Tovey et al.), raising the attractiveness of the concept of tradition. This research addresses how the “in-placeness” of monuments—their materiality and physical presence—brings these “traditions” to a much wider public, and in this particular case, beyond the listening and performing community of practice of Irish traditional musicians. In order to do so, it bookends its investigation with two monuments, indeed two moments, that commemorate uilleann piper Willie Clancy (1918–73): both located in Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare, and raised in 1974 and 2013 respectively (figure 1).
  • Publication
    A journey of found and lost: The concept of East Galway regional style in Irish traditional music
    (Department of Folklore and Ethnology, UCC, 2008) Commins, Verena
    [No abstract available]
  • Publication
    The crustiest and most personally unbiddable of instruments : Éamonn Ceannt and the pipes
    (Na Píobairí Uilleann, 2016-04) Commins, Verena
    É is perhaps one of the least AMONN CEANNT well-known leaders of the 1916 Rising. De- 1 scribed variously as a reserved, quiet, somewhat taciturn and private figure, he has been easily eclipsed by ies amongst the other signa- the better-known personalit article published on the fifti- Irish Times tories. In fact an eth anniversary of the Rising, summarises this position stating that there are only three things for which Ceannt is remembered; as a signatory of the Proclamation, Commandant of the South Dublin Union during the Rising and that he played the pipes for the Pope.2
  • Publication
    Central places in a rural archaeological landscape
    (Eagle Hill Institute, 2018) Comber, Michelle; Heritage Council of Ireland; Royal Irish Academy
    Archaeological survey in western Ireland has identified the existence of clusters of activity within the mapped landscapes of the 5th to 12th centuries A.D. Exploring this further, it is possible to identify elements characteristic of such clusters, and discuss the possible significance of such places. The basics of German geographer Walter Christaller’s Central Place Theory provide an interesting analytical tool in this regard. Although a spatial theory developed in the study of urban geography, some elements of Christaller’s work have been applied to urban archaeological landscapes in recent times. Their application in the rural ringfort landscapes of western Ireland proves an interesting exercise, one that suggests that Central Places also existed in more dispersed, rural communities in Early Medieval Ireland.
  • Publication
    Fostering an Irish identity through art: A letter from Sylvester O'Halloran (1728-1807) to James Barry (1741-1806) in May 1791
    (Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 2010) Lyons, Claire E.
    In 1843 an article from the secretary of the Cork Art-Union, which had appeared originally in the Southern Reporter, was sent to and published on page 12 of The Nation on the 2 December 1843. Included with this article was a letter from the surgeon and antiquarian Sylvester O'Halloran to the neo-classical painter James Barry, dated 1791. That correspondence should occur between O'Halloran and Barry is not totally unexpected, although no evidence to support this conjecture had existed until now. Even its appearance in 1843 was by chance, due to a correlation between its contents, the aspirations of the Art-Union and an active campaign by the Repeal Association, and in particular, Thomas Davis (1814-1845) to foster an Irish identity through the medium of art.
  • Publication
    Sylvester O'Halloran: Miso-Dolos
    (Galway Archaelogical and Historical Society, 2007) Lyons, Claire E.