Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the Nineteenth Century
Since its publication in 1986, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael has acquired cult status as one of the most extensive and incisive studies on the growth of ... Show synopsis Since its publication in 1986, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael has acquired cult status as one of the most extensive and incisive studies on the growth of an Irish national identity. Spanning five centuries, the sources dealt with are drawn from three linguistic traditions, Irish-Gaelic, Latin, and English, and chart the slow and painful process of cultural confrontation, antagonism, and interaction. Leerssen takes for his central theme the formulation of an ideal or stereotype of "Irishness" -- Mere Irish in English discourse, Fior-Ghael from the native point of view. The author traces the development of this ethnic image in discursive traditions and genres as diverse as Gaelic poetry, English drama, controversial religious writings, political commentary, and historiography, from the Middle Ages until the Act of Union. This is both a prehistory of Irish nationalism and a compendium of Irish cultural history; it addresses not only the interaction between political and literary developments, but also between Ireland's cultural traditions.