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The essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and are designed
to come together like the intricate cross-bars and precise patterning of the
plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address.
They move from pre-history to postmodernism, from Gothic to Gaelic
and from Macbeth to Marxism, incorporating gender and genre, and
providing a detailed survey of responses to the IrishScottish paradigm.

Willy Maley is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow.

He is the author of Nation, State and Empire in English Renaissance Literature:
Shakespeare to Milton (2003) and Muriel Spark for Starters (2008). He has
also co-edited Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly
(2010); The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark (2010); and This England,
That Shakespeare: New Angles on Englishness and the Bard (2010).
Alison OMalley-Younger is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of
Sunderland and co-director of the North East Irish Culture Network. She has
co-edited Representing Ireland: Past, Present and Future (2005); Essays on
Modern Irish Literature (2007); No Country for Old Men: Fresh Perspectives
on Irish Literature (2008); and Ireland at War and Peace (2011).
ISBN 978-3-0343-0214-2



Willy Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds)

CELTIC CONNECTIONS Willy Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds)

While a number of published works approach the shared concerns of

Ireland and Scotland, no major volume has offered a sustained and upto-date analysis of the cultural connections between the two, despite
the fact that these border crossings continue to be politically suggestive.
The current collection addresses this area of comparative critical neglect,
focusing on writers, from Charles Robert Maturin to Liam McIlvanney,
whose work offers insights into debates about identity and politics in
these two neighbour nations, too often overwhelmed by connections
with their larger neighbour, England.









The essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and are designed
to come together like the intricate cross-bars and precise patterning of the
plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address.
They move from pre-history to postmodernism, from Gothic to Gaelic
and from Macbeth to Marxism, incorporating gender and genre, and
providing a detailed survey of responses to the IrishScottish paradigm.

Willy Maley is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Glasgow.

He is the author of Nation, State and Empire in English Renaissance Literature:
Shakespeare to Milton (2003) and Muriel Spark for Starters (2008). He has
also co-edited Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly
(2010); The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark (2010); and This England,
That Shakespeare: New Angles on Englishness and the Bard (2010).
Alison OMalley-Younger is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of
Sunderland and co-director of the North East Irish Culture Network. She has
co-edited Representing Ireland: Past, Present and Future (2005); Essays on
Modern Irish Literature (2007); No Country for Old Men: Fresh Perspectives
on Irish Literature (2008); and Ireland at War and Peace (2011).



Willy Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds)

CELTIC CONNECTIONS Willy Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds)

While a number of published works approach the shared concerns of

Ireland and Scotland, no major volume has offered a sustained and upto-date analysis of the cultural connections between the two, despite
the fact that these border crossings continue to be politically suggestive.
The current collection addresses this area of comparative critical neglect,
focusing on writers, from Charles Robert Maturin to Liam McIlvanney,
whose work offers insights into debates about identity and politics in
these two neighbour nations, too often overwhelmed by connections
with their larger neighbour, England.




Celtic Connections

Reimagining Ireland
Volume 38
Edited by Dr Eamon Maher
Institute of Technology, Tallaght

Oxford Bern Berlin Bruxelles Frankfurt am Main New York Wien

Willy Maley and

Alison OMalley-Younger (eds)

IrishScottish Relations
and the Politics of Culture

Oxford Bern Berlin Bruxelles Frankfurt am Main New York Wien

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche National
bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
Celtic connections : Irish-Scottish relations and the politics of culture / Willy
Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger, eds.
p. cm. -- (Reimagining Ireland ; 38)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0214-2 (alk. paper)
1. Celtic literature--History and criticism. 2. English literature--Irish authors-History and criticism. 3. English literature--Scottish authors--History and
criticism. 4. Politics and literature--Ireland--History. 5. Politics and literature-Scotland--History. 6. Comparative literature--Irish and Scottish. 7. Comparative
literature--Scottish and Irish. 8. Civilization, Celtic. 9. Nationalism and literature-Colonies--Great Britain--History. 10. Ireland--In literature. 11. Scotland--In
literature. I. Maley, Willy. II. OMalley-Younger, Alison.
PB1096.C45 2012
ISSN 1662-9094
ISBN 978-3-0343-0214-2 (print)
ISBN 978-3-0353-0407-7 (eBook)
Cover illustration: Patrick Geddes et al., The Evergreen: A Northern Seasonal
(London: T. Fisher Unwin) Spring, 1895, p.5.
Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers, Bern 2013
Hochfeldstrasse 32, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland
info@peterlang.com, www.peterlang.com, www.peterlang.net
All rights reserved.
All parts of this publication are protected by copyright.
Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without
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Printed in Germany

For Paddy Lyons

who always connects


Acknowledgements ix

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and

Melmoth the Wanderer 41

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy in

Stevensons Gothic Fiction



Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited



True poetic comrades: Mineko Matsumura and the

Reception of Fiona Macleod in Japan



Coming Clean about the Red and the Green:

Celtic Communism in Maclean, MacDiarmid and
MacLean Again




My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm in

Hanna Bells December Bride 153

There is something narcotic in watching a war unfold on

your doorstep, knowing all the while it cant hurt you:
Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town 169

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations with

the Scottish Play in a Northern Irish Prison



The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


Notes on Contributors


Index 227


Many ofthe papers collected here originated in the North East Irish Culture
Network (NEICN) Celtic Connections conference held at the University
of Sunderland, 1214 November 2010. We would like to thank all those
who participated in that event, and we would particularly like to thank
the contributors to this volume, and also colleagues at the Department of
Culture at the University of Sunderland, for their support. Special thanks
go to Steve Watts for his unfailing encouragement and enthusiasm, and
to Robert Finnigan for his assistance with the indexing. We would also
like to thank Eamon Maher, series editor for Reimagining Ireland, for his
help with this project, and Commissioning Editor Christabel Scaife for
her patience and guidance. Finally, this publication was part-funded by the
Culture Research Beacon at the University of Sunderland. We would like to
extend our thanks to them for this, in particular Professor John Strachan,
and Dr Susan Mandala, without whose assistance this project would not
have been possible. Finally, we would like to thank Mary Critchley for
bringing the final manuscript safely into harbour.


Introduction: Twilight to Tiger

Perhaps in the very combination of opposites [] the Caledonian

antisyzygy we have a reflection of the contrasts which the Scot shows
at every turn, in his political and ecclesiastical history, in his polemical
restlessness, in his adaptability, which is another way of saying that he has
made allowance for new conditions, in his practical judgement, which
is the admission that two sides of the matter have been considered. If
therefore, Scottish history and life are, as an old northern writer said of
something else, varied with a clean contrair spirit, we need not be surprised to find that in his literature the Scot presents two aspects which
appear contradictory. Oxymoron was ever the bravest figure, and we must
not forget that disorderly order is order after all.
Smith, 1919: 45
Ill hae nae hauf-way hoose, but ay be whaur
Extremes meet its the only way I ken
To dodge the curst conceit o bein richt
That damns the vast majority o men.
Riach and Grieve, 1993: 30

The divided self is a familiar theme in Scottish literature, from Jekyll and
Hyde to the work of R.D. Laing, and Ireland too has its doubling propensity, as Joyce suggested when he characterised his country, and his fittingly
named hometown, as having the capacity to think two thinks at a time
(FW 583.7). This shared history of double thinking has also been at times a
shared colonial experience that has entailed double-dealing. England used
Scotland to complete its colonisation of Ireland. As Seamus Deane put
it, the IrishEnglish relation was mediated through Scotland (Deane,
1997: 108). Deane identifies a Celtic tussle between two colonised or semicolonised countries in thrall to a larger nation:


All through the late eighteenth and well into the nineteenth century, Irish commentators had fought the Ossian battle over and over, denying to the Scots the primacy they
claimed in the Celtic hierarchy, insisting instead that it was the Irish who had been
the original founders of the culture of which Scotland was a derivative. Yet because
of the Irish failure to recognize and commemorate their own achievements, the Scots
had almost won the battle of public relations on this score. (Deane, 1997: 423)

Yet Deane resists the IrishScottish double-act, wishing, like other Irish
critics, to hold the Scottish comparison at bay, with Ossian as the bad
example of Scottish appropriation and cultural theft, so that
the whole political force of the Ossian controversy in Ireland was that Scotland could
not have it both ways claim to be an authentic Gaelic culture and remain in union
with Great Britain. It was the Union that had robbed it of its authenticity; it was the
Union of Great Britain and Ireland that had to be resisted if Irelands Gaelic authenticity were to be retained and retrieved. The Scots, as represented by their writers,
especially Macpherson, Burns, and Scott (not to mention the Edinburgh Review),
had duplicated the achievement of their intellectual Enlightenment cohort; they had
found a way to reconcile culture and the market, they had blended the discourses of
feeling and calculation. (Deane, 1997: 108)

Where Deane sees Scotland as the colonial collaborator of the Celtic

nations, Cairns Craig sees Scotland as less assimilated:
Why then should Scottish literature have retained and indeed asserted its independence in a context where the Scottish people unlike the Irish, for example, have
seemed deeply resistant or apathetic about other forms of independence? [] In
part it is that Scotland has, despite both internal and external pressures, never been
integrated into the cultural values of the British state. The texture of Scottish life,
in its religious, educational, legal, linguistic forms, remains distinct from that of
England to an extent which is little recognized in England, let alone the outside
world. (Cited Nicholson, 1992: xii)

But Celtic connections are arguably more of a seesaw than a set-to. In his
general preface to The Waverley Novels, Walter Scott wrote: Without being
so presumptuous as to hope to emulate the rich humour, pathetic tenderness, and admirable tact, which pervade the works of my accomplished
friend, I felt that something might be attempted for my own country, of
the same kind with that which Miss Edgeworth so fortunately achieved

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger

for Ireland (Scott, 1829: xv). At the end of that same century, Yeats wrote
enviously of the fame of Scott and Burns and aspired to such literary
greatness for his own nation: The time has not yet come for Irishmen, as
it has for Scotsmen, to carry about with them a subtle national feeling,
no matter when, or of what they write, because that feeling has yet to be
perfectly elaborated and expounded by men of genius with minds as full
of Irish history, scenery, and character as the minds of Burns and Scott
were full of Scottish history, scenery, and character (Cited Frayne and
Johnson, 1975: I, 385). More recently, Donny ORourke lamented the fact
that new Scottish poets lacked the historical sense of their Irish counterparts: What is lacking in Scotland, as opposed to Ireland, is much sense
of young writers using an ancient language to grapple with the present
(ORourke, 1994: xxxvii). As such, Scottish/Irish Celticism can be seen
as less of a connection than a contestation subliminally linked to cultural
cringe as Mark Renton in Irvine Welshs Trainspotting colourfully concludes: Some say that the Irish are the trash ay Europe. Thats shite. Its
the Scots. The Irish hud the bottle tae win thir country back, or at least
maist ay it (Welsh, 1993: 190).
For Deane, as for Renton, the Celtic connection can come down to a
competition, a contest to see which nation could prove most resistant to,
or least complicit with, English imperialism, but Deane also suggests that
this resistance to assimilation amounted to a resistance to theory, identified as the ideology of the occupier:
Ireland, before and after the Union, could not be conciliated as Scotland was. The
divisions were too deep, the antinomies too strong. The culture lacked a theory of
society and would continue to do so, precisely because theory had been identified
as inimical to its preservation. (Deane, 1997: 37)

Joyce was cutting in his caricature of Scotland as a Celtic sibling who profited from Union through the Anglo-Scottish Ulster Plantation of 1609,
but who remains a junior partner in Empire and not an equal. In Gas from
a Burner, he writes:


Poor sister Scotland! Her doom is fell;
She cannot find any more Stuarts to sell []
My Irish foreman from Bannockburn
Shall dip his right hand in the urn
And sign crisscross with reverent thumb
Memento homo upon my bum. (Levin, 1977: 4623)

Scottish writers have been strongly influenced by Joyce, most notably Hugh
MacDiarmid. As Edwin Morgan pointed out:
Although they were near-contemporaries, and had many literary acquaintances in
common, Joyce and MacDiarmid never met. Meetings were set up several times, but
for various accidental reasons failed to materialise. We have MacDiarmids word for
it that Joyce knew his poetry and in particular A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
(1926), but the influence that can be documented goes in the other direction, and is
shown most obviously in the title of MacDiarmids long poem In Memoriam James
Joyce (1955). (Morgan, 1982: 202)

Morgan sees an affinity between Joyce and MacDiarmid in spite of differences with regard to perspectives on nationalism:
Joyce and MacDiarmid both emerged from social and literary environments where
they felt impelled to adopt a critical, single-minded, often lonely role. They laid on
themselves a weight of responsibility which Joyce dealt with almost entirely in terms
of art and which in MacDiarmid issues in ceaseless journalistic and publicistic activity as well as in art but which in both men had deep roots in their national feelings
about Ireland and Scotland as places presenting challenges and problems quite distinct from those of England or (if there is such a thing) Britain. (Morgan, 1982: 204)

MacDiarmid (of whom more later) found it possible to subscribe to Scottish

nationalism while Joyce struggled to accommodate his large mind to the
narrow nationalism emerging into dominance in Ireland:
To Joyce, a straightforward nationalism like MacDiarmids was impossible, and his
exiling of himself from his own country something which MacDiarmid could never
have done gave the clearest indication that so long as Irish nationalism implied
continued support for the Catholic Church and continued faith in the revival of Irish
Gaelic as the native tongue, it could never command his loyalty. (Morgan, 1982: 205)

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger

It is worth pausing to acknowledge the type of straightforward nationalism to which MacDiarmid allegedly subscribed as it underpins, in either
a negative or a positive sense, many of the concepts and themes we will be
addressing in this collection, most tellingly the question of what constitutes national identity. Can a nation have a distinctive identity without
subscribing to essentialism, or a sense of shared identity based on artificial traditions and myth? While we acknowledge that these questions are
essentially unanswerable, the complex case of MacDiarmid allows us a
segue into approaching the dense (and often obfuscating) polemic which
surrounds questions of gender and nationalism while examining side roads
of poetry, politics, propaganda, revolution, Renascence and Renaissance
(Scottish and Irish), archaism, antisyzygy, Modernism, Socialism, nationalism, intra-nationalism, internationalism a whole gallimaufry of concepts
worthy of association with MacDiarmids poetic magnum opus, A Drunk
Man Looks at the Thistle (1926).
Given that MacDiarmid is credited with displaying a spirit of contrariety (see Hart, 2007: 31) let us follow his lead and begin our discussion
of his literary and political nationalism by discussing the acknowledged
antipathy to nationalism of his Celtic cousin, Joyce.1 As Deane writes in
Celtic Revivals:
It is well known that Joyce, like Stephen Dedalus, considered himself to be the slave
of two masters, one British and one Roman. It is equally well known that he repudiated the Irish Literary Revival Repudiating British and Roman imperialism
and Irish literature which seemed to be in the service of that cause, he turned away
from his early commitment to socialism and devoted himself to a highly apolitical
and wonderfully arcane practice of writing. Such, in brief is the received wisdom
about Joyce and his relationship to the major political issues of his time. Although
some revision of this estimate has recently begun, it remains one of the most secure
assumptions about his life and work. (Deane, 1985: 92)

See, for example Willy Maley, Postcolonial Joyce in Alan Marshall and Neil
Sammells (eds) (1998), Irish Encounters: Poetry, Politics and Prose since 1880, Sulis
Press, pp.5970.


Here, Deane identifies a critical school of thought which labels Joyce a

disinterested aesthete, indifferent to the politics of his native land, and
committed, like his part-autobiographical persona Stephen Dedalus, to a
vocation of international modernism. While it is beyond the scope of this
collection to discuss Joyces complex and often-contradictory variants of
nationalism and internationalism it does allow us to raise an important
point, namely the incompatibility of modernism and Ireland [which]
gradually became a critical staple, juxtaposing an enlightened internationalism with an insular and conservative nationalist culture (Keown and
Taaffe, 2010: 1). The critical perception is that nationalism in Ireland, with
all of its inward looking verities and commitment to its patria, was inimical
to the collectivist impulse and international manifesto of the modernist
movement. Faced with the prejudices of provincialism, as countless scholars
have argued, Joyce, like Dedalus performed an abrupt volte-face, turning his
back on what he viewed as the cultural and political stagnation of Ireland,
and choosing flight to the cosmopolitanism of Trieste, Zurich and Paris,
rarely to return in anything other than his imagination and memory.
It was on the Continent, during his self-imposed exile, that he pursued
what Neil Corcoran describes as his
subversive revenge on the English language [] making it astonishingly and uniquely
foreign to itself by more or less retaining its syntax while radically destabilizing its
lexicon in a promiscuous riot of pun and word-play. In the language in no sinse of
the world of the Wake English is exposed to numerous other languages in a way
that undermines the assertiveness of its imperial authority and de-authorizes it.
(Corcoran, 1997: 3)

In its polyphony and pluralism Joyces use of language breaks the boundaries
between centre and periphery and allows the voice of the silenced other
to participate in dialogue. To paraphrase and expand on Tim Middletons
discussion of Caledonian Antisyzygy, in its insistence on undermining and
reconciling false dichotomies, and challenging the monoglossia of both

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger

colonialism and xenophobic nationalism, Joyces language could be seen

as Bakhtins adulteration with knobs on.2
Roughly a decade after Joyce was utilising his heteroglossic HibernoEnglish to fire an arsenal of polyphonic paradoxes at the monoglossic edifice of the English language, MacDiarmid was undermining the centrality
of this acquired speech in his newly invented dialectal and dialectical
language of Synthetic Scots a Scottish language which would carry the
weight of tradition out of the parish and into the avant-garde arenas of
international modernism. Speaking of the composition of A Drunk Man
Looks at the Thistle Alan Bold observes:
MacDiarmid could prove his soul was Scots only by abandoning his inhibitions and
allowing himself to be possessed by the Scots language. Theoretically he had proposed
Synthetic Scots as a fusion of all Scotlands linguistic resources the oral rhythms
of the various dialects, the lexical density of dictionary Scots, the lyrical qualities
of literary Scots and felt that a Synthetic Scots was apposite to a poem intent on
synthesis. (Bold 1988, 221)

Following Ezra Pounds modernist maxim, make it new MacDiarmid creates an original language and uses it to construct his oxymoronic paean to
contradiction (Hart, 2007: 29). Written in a stylised and imagined vernacular, the poem succeeds in what it sets out to do create a distinctive
(if fictive) Scottish language capable of carrying the weight of a distinctly
Scottish experience beyond the shores of Scotland to an international
audience. Narrated by an inebriate Scot, it synthesises and bridges the gaps
between the Caledonian, the cosmopolitan and, as Matthew Hart argues,
the cosmic, with an innovative lexical deftness that whummles3 stereotypical expectations of a Scottish national culture in its expansive and extensive
range of illusions and allusion. For example, of T.S. Eliot who famously

In Constructing the Temporary Self: The Works of Iain Banks, Tim Middleton
describes Caledonian Antisyzygy as Bakhtins monoglossia with knobs on, see Tracey
Hill and William Hughes (eds) (1995), Contemporary Writing and National Identity,
Sulis Press, Bath, p.20.
3 Overturns.


argued that there was no tradition of Scottish literature independent of

an English tradition the speaker says:
T.S. Eliot its a Scottish name
Afore he wrote the Waste Land sud hae come
To Scotland here. He wad hae written
A better poem syne like this, by gum. (Cited in Hart, 2007: 30)

In what can be seen as a reverse manoeuvre of Joyces attempt to insert

himself into an international tradition of modernism, MacDiarmid, in
challenging Eliots High Modernism, incorporates modernism into what
he sees as a thriving Scottish tradition, demonstrating that Scots poetry is
a fit medium for furthering the culture of international modernity (Hart,
2007: 30).
There is a clear element of puckish glee in MacDiarmids challenge to
Eliot, motivated in no small part by national pride. MacDiarmid proclaimed
in 1922 that it taks an almark like Joyce tae write aboot Edinburgh!, and
later, in what might be seen as an impertinent interpolation of Joyce within
the Scottish tradition (the very tradition which Eliot disavowed), we have
been enormously struck by the resemblances the moral resemblances
between Jamiesons Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language and
James Joyces Ulysses (cited Hart, 2007: 28). Elsewhere, while acknowledging the importance of Joyce to the Irish tradition, MacDiarmid asks his
Celtic counterpart to be silent, and give the Scots a chance to find their own
distinctive voice, rooted in the local, but looking outward to the global:
Wheesht, wheesht Joyce, and let me hear
Nae Anna Livvys lilt,
But Wauchope, Esk and Ewes again
Each wi its ain rhythms tilt. (MacDiarmid, 1994: 153)

The similarities between Joyce and MacDiarmid are many: both are eccentrics in their challenge to an English centre or core; both produce a distinctive national literature beyond that which can be subsumed into an English
tradition; both look out from the stagnation of their respective countries,
each creating highly experimental and cerebral linguistic collages designed

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger

to fashion and represent distinctive Celtic cultural identities which are

separate from those of England. They differ in their responses to nationalism. In broad strokes this can be allied to the fight or flight response. While
MacDiarmid chose to fight colonial misconceptions and Scottish cultural
stagnation from the inside, Joyce chose to fly from the moral paralysis of
Ireland to the continent and challenge these issues outwith. There are lacunae rather than links (Maley and Jackson, 2002: 77) between them but
the ties that bind are as compelling as those between their native countries:
their relationship with England and the fact of colonialism.
Alasdair Gray, who in Lanark (1981) did for Glasgow what Joyce
did for Dublin in Ulysses (1922), echoed Joyces line on the way in which
Scotland was deployed by England in the interests of Irish colonisation,
as the accession of James I allowed for an Anglo-Scottish connection at
Irelands expense:
Another tactic is to find a native clan and isolate it from the others by paying it to work
as your police force. Jamie and later British Kings did that in the Scottish Highlands
but it did not work in Ireland. The Irish persisted in hating the English more than
each other, so Norman, Plantagenet and Tudor overlords had been forced to quell
them by periodic massacres which left the winners sickened and exhausted, the Irish
as Irish as ever. And the Irish were still Catholic! If English Catholics promised them
more freedom they might send in an army by way of Ulster, crossing the narrow
channel that divided it from the Scottish coast. It was from here the first Scots had
left Ireland for Britain. A lot of English settlers could have held the country down,
but English kings had persuaded hardly any English farmers to settle in the poorer
land they would not visit themselves. Bearing all this in mind Jamie arrived at a tactic
which could only be deployed by a Scottish king ruling Ireland with an English army:
the colonization of Ulster. (Gray, 1992: 30)

But not all Irish critics and writers have been quite so touchy about
Scotland. Commenting on the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991),
Bill McCormack argued that if Ireland is to be properly understood in all
its richness and complexity then the culture of that geographical space
known as Scotland should properly be treated because, for much of the
historical period covered by the early pages [] the oral or literary culture
of the two places were interactive in a most intimate manner (McCormack,
1994: 445). McCormack went on to ask:



Why then considerations of expense, length etc., aside is early Scottish literature
omitted? Perhaps the implication that Gaelic Scotland constituted an instance (not
wholly unique) of Irish colonizing activity was politically inadmissible. The counterargument, that events in the eighth century (or earlier) hardly compromise the
integrity of twentieth-century independent Ireland, is forceful suspiciously so, if
one recalls that Yeatss first play about Cuchulain, On Bailes Strand (1904), crucially
depends on kinship and antagonism bridging the North Channel [] The nation,
conceived historically, is no more and no less than a totality made up of all totalities
subordinated to it and is (at the same time) overdetermined by totalities of a higher
complexity. In contrast, any notion of Ireland as self-identical whole stems (whether
it likes it or not) from the Prussian side of Hegels system. (McCormack, 1994: 445)

Where some see barriers, others see bridges, particularly between the North
of Ireland and Scotland. Marilynn Richtarik cites Stewart Parkers Lost
Belongings (1987), where Orangeman Roy OConnell endeavours to instil
a sense of belonging into his children through an inventive geology that
carves in stone the cultural connections between Ulster and Scotland,
so that the bedrock of Ulster is just a continuation of the Bedrock of
Scotland (Richtarik 1997/98: 74). But it is not all wine and roses for the
thistle and the shamrock. In the same issue of the Irish journal Bulln two
prominent Scottish critics distanced themselves from Ireland. The historian
Colin Kidd spoke of being an intruder upon another nations domestic
quarrel, while the poet and critic Robert Crawford described himself as
a foreigner, bored by the vicissitudes of the Irish cultural context, who
can enjoy the luxury of turning away (Kidd, 1995: 109; Crawford, 1995:
134). Ironically, Kidd served as Professor of History at Queens Belfast,
so he may feel less like an intruder now. As for Crawford, he may be less
inclined to turn away now that the peace process has made comparisons
and connections easier as conflict recedes.
In a pioneering essay on IrishScottish studies, Marilyn Reizbaum
asks a question pertinent to our aims in this collection: Why Scotland
and Ireland? What is marginal, one might ask, about cultures that have
produced writers like Burns, Boswell, Stevenson, and Scott on the one
hand, and Wilde, Shaw, Yeats, and Joyce on the other? (Reizbaum, 1992:
1689). It is not our intention to offer answers to the contentious, and very
often tendentious issue of Celtic commonalities between the Irish and the

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


Scots. Rather, our aim is to examine the intersections and interfaces across
areas from history to sexuality, taking in gender and genre en route, and
by so doing encourage readers to look anew at the overlaps, cross-cultural
connections, shared histories and doublings which exist between Ireland
and Scotland. The thematic threads we identify are woven into the texture
of this collection like a filament through a plaid or a tartan; sometimes
less distinct but essential to the overall design. Tartan is an apt thematic
design for this collection. The kilt, alongside being an iconic insignia of
Scottishness, exemplifies what Sean de Friene has described as national
parallelism4 connecting the Celtic peripheries, in the sense of it being an
authentic avatar for a distinct Celtic identity irrespective of its provenance
being bound up with militarism, myth and marketing; as Declan Kiberd
rightly points out, in Ireland, the kilt
pleased the revivalists with its connotations of aristocracy, of Scottish chieftains and
pipers marching into battle; but the garment never was Irish and subsequent historians have shown that the Irish wore hip-hugging trousers long before the English
(and were reviled for their barbarous fashion by the new invaders). The kilt wasnt
properly Scottish either, having been devised by an English Quaker industrialist,
seeking an outlet for unused tartan after the highland clearances None of these
considerations, however, prevented a generation of enthusiasts from raising the cry,
Down with trousers! (Kiberd, 1996: 134)

To Revivalists, then, tartan (when woven into the kilt) had a distinctly
Anglophile and political hue as an iconic (though not necessarily authentic, or even historically accurate) emblem of Pan-Celticism, designed to
be paraded as a pennant against the seoinin and Sassenach. In this collection we replace the cry of down with trousers with up with kilts, not
in a separatist sense as described above, but in the Gaelic sense of breacan or variegated. In this we follow Kiberds memorable observation that
the seamless garment once wrapped like a green flag around Cathleen
ni Houlihan has given way to a quilt of many patches and colours, all
beautiful, all distinct, yet all connected too (Kiberd, 1995: 653). Similarly,
the essays in this collection are distinct yet connected, and designed to

Sean de Friene (1965), The Great Silence, Mercier Press, Dublin, p.108.



come together like the intricate cross bars and precise patternings of the
plaid to capture the complexity of the Celtic connections they address.
There are, of course, numerous fibres and folds in the collection. The essays
move from pre-history to postmodernism like separate strands shuttling
on a loom with the common purpose of focussing, as the title suggests,
on IrishScottish Relations and the Politics of Culture to provide the
threads to weave new, mixed fabrics of identity located firmly in the now
(Arrowsmith, 1999: 180).
To return to Reizbaums groundbreaking essay, it is worth noting that
she justifies the juxtaposition of these two national/colonial literatures thus:
I feel I can talk about Scotland and Ireland together in this context, without homogenizing them and thereby further marginalizing them (all Celts are alike), because
they have comparable colonial histories with respect to England (unlike Wales)
and because their status as minority cultures, which has more or less continued in
psychic and/or political ways, has had a similar impact not only on the dissemination of their respective literatures but on the nature and means of the writing.
(Reizbaum, 1992: 169)

Reizbaum speaks of the hidden gender politics at work in the ways in which
colonial literatures are effeminised by their subjection yet masculinised by
a rhetoric of violent resistance to that subjection, leading to the phenomenon of double exclusion suffered by women writing in marginalised
cultures, in this case Scotland and Ireland, where the struggle to assert a
nationalist identity obscures or doubly marginalises the assertion of gender
(the womans voice) (Reizbaum, 1992: 165). Reizbaums argument is key
to an understanding of the workings of colonialism in a Celtic context:
The feminist call in Scotland and Ireland for the reformulation of the canon of
Scottish and Irish works parallels the challenge to the mainstream Anglo-American
establishment presented by Scotland, Ireland, and other countries or cultures like
them former colonies who retain a marginalized standing in relation to the former
colonizer. For example, while British anthologies often ignore Scottish and Irish
authors, anthologies and critical works of Scottish and Irish writing typically treat
women writers with the same disregard [] At a time when there is a call for pantransnationalism, a recognition of the heterogeneity of nation-states, nationalist
movements such as those in Scotland and Ireland are often implicated as retrogressive, even dangerous. (Reizbaum, 1992: 1667)

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


Reizbaum identifies the extent to which Irish and Scottish canons have
been sentimentalised and stereotyped:
In both Scotland and Ireland certain writers serve up caricatures of national types
that have to some degree been created cooperatively through imposition and internalization by the colonizer and the colony (dubbed green prose in Ireland and
kailyard in Scotland). We are familiar with the stage Irishman, the Paddy, whose
counterpart in Scotland is the gentle Highlander. (Reizbaum, 1992: 167)

Reizbaums argument is that women in the cultural field in Scotland

and Ireland have sought to alter this dynamic, seeing on the one hand the
paternalistic nature of cultural marginalisation (their identification with
the nationalist cause) and, on the other, the patriarchal dimension of their
cultures nationalist movements (their exclusion from it) (Reizbaum, 1992:
168). She shows that the emphasis on nation in a colonised culture leads
to the subordination of other identities:
It is less my intention to bemoan the fate of Scottish and Irish writing and its absence
from the canon or, indeed, to argue for its inclusion in that canon that is extant
than to demonstrate that the problems these literary establishments face illuminate
the debate between feminists and cultural critics in their approach to canonicity.
When a culture has been marginalized, its impulses toward national legitimization
tend to dominate in all spheres and forms of cultural realization. (Reizbaum, 1992: 171)

Thus the question of Irish and Scottish womens writing offers a way of
understanding the larger questions of canonical formation and gendering:
The predicament of womens writing in Scotland and Ireland provides an
analogy, then, with the fate of Scottish and Irish literature on the whole,
which has been trapped by its cultural identity, excluded from the canon
from without because of it, or included at the expense of or through a distortion of it (Reizbaum, 1992: 176). Reizbaum recognises the degree to
which Irish and Scottish women writers face different problems in having
their voices heard: While in Ireland, the Troubles in the North enact
on a regular basis the history of strife and make the potential for obscuration of other issues that much greater, the absence of physical struggle in
Scotland produces a subtler nationalist imperative, a primarily psychic and



internalized sense of struggle and marginalisation that has obscured the

connection between nationalism and feminism (Reizbaum, 1992: 1812).
Despite the theoretical strides made by critics such as Reizbaum and
others,5 the comparative critical coupling of Ireland and Scotland remains
a source of controversy, and contestation. Some critics are unwilling to
pursue the place of these two semicolonial nations within a postcolonial
paradigm that too often sees the world in terms of Europe and its Others
or the West and the Rest. As Ellen-Rassa Jackson explains:
The challenge that postcolonialism presents to existing critical frameworks is matched
by the reluctance of critics to read Scottish and Irish literature against and alongside
one another. Whereas a strong urge to bring together cultural analyses of Scotland
and Ireland has been shown in projects such as the IrishScottish academic initiative, the debate surrounding the New British History, and through suggestions in
the work of Robert Crawford, Marilyn Reizbaum and Seamus Deane, an equally
forceful rejection of this approach has surfaced in the work of Fintan OToole, Colin
McArthur and others. ( Jackson, 2002: 121)

In Ireland the aversion to postcolonialism has a long provenance, perhaps

best summed up by Liam Kennedys coruscating attitude towards The Field
Day tendency in cultural politics, that is literary and cultural critics who
like jackdaws to shiny objects, seem to be drawn to labels and packaging.
Assertion becomes a low-cost substitute for evidence. Metaphors masquerade as theory (Kennedy, 1996: 178). The substance of Kennedys charge
against Field Day is that they represent a collective, Catholic, ultra nationalist, Anglophobic, anti-Unionist homo academicus on the make (Cited
in Graham, 2001: 91). Elsewhere Edna Longley levels a similar complaint,
suggesting that Field Days raison dtre is to call upon theoretical support
which supports their book (Longley, 1994: 28). Thus Longleys cautionary
note: Strange collusions are taking place: intellectual holiday romances
in a postcolonial never-never land (Longley, 1994: 28). Ireland, according
to Kennedy, displays a palpable sense of victimhood and exceptionalism
[] which might be summed up by the acronym MOPE, that is, the most

Such as Luke Gibbons, Seamus Deane, Willy Maley, Marjorie Howes, Ellen-Rassa
Jackson and Stefanie Lehner.

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


oppressed people ever (Kennedy, 1996: 25). When read in conjunction

with Scotlands claims to a postcolonial status this moping (or exaltation
of victimage) can result in a distasteful kind of beauty parade in which
the competitors are made to press their claims to be the most oppressed
colonial subjects or to be the most truly postcolonial subjects (MooreGilbert, 1997: 12). From this lowlier than thou attitude comes the combative and antagonistic cultural cringe model of national identity which
leads Roddy Doyles Jimmy Rabbitte to proclaim in The Commitments:
The Irish are the niggers of Europe, lads (Doyle, 1987: 13), and Welshs
Rents to observe: Ah dont hate the English. Theyre just wankers. We are
colonised by wankers. We cant even pick a decent healthy culture to be
colonised by [] Ah dont hate the English. They just git oan wi the shite
thuv goat. Ah hate the Scots (Welsh, 1993: 78).
Competitive inferiorism aside, and taking into account how the debate
has moved on since Matthew Arnold famously proclaimed the whimsical
and otherworldly Celts as unfitted to the modern world, the underlying
premise of a homogenous Celtic sensibility reducible to some essentialist
common denominator looms spectre-like over contemporary critical practice: We have all been stuck in the essentialist parish for too long, argues
Gavin Miller, we need to get out more (Miller, 2005: 1). Add to this to
the problematic status of both Ireland and Scotland within a postcolonial
paradigm, flavour with myths of origins, top with the putative slippage
between the textual and the political, and you have a recipe for the rejection of Celtic connections as a comparative cul-de-sac.
Millers tongue-in-cheek review of Eleanor Bells Questioning Scotland
asserts that a number of those who pronounce upon Scottish Culture,
amongst them Tom Nairn, Craig Beveridge, Ronald Turnbull and Cairns
Craig, are sick suffering from a malaise [] called essentialism, the
symptoms of which are investment in the idea of tradition, parochialism,
singular self definition, stereotyping, questionable generalisation, cultural
exclusiveness and reductiveness (Miller, 2005: 12). In Scotland, according
to Bell, this urge for essentialism has often remained largely untheorised
and unchallenged (and, presumably to extend the trope, undiagnosed)
(Bell 2004: 3). The national pathogen was diagnosed earlier in Ireland,
as is evident in Seamus Deanes weary acknowledgement that Nothing is



more monotonous or despairing than the search for essence which defines
a nation (Deane, in Hederman and Kearney, 1982: 512). Again, as Stuart
Kelly argues in The Scottish Review: I have a profound suspicion of essentialism; and essentialism always trips into exceptionalism. Were not just
essentially different, were exceptionally better.6 In its valorisation of static,
inflexible types and tropes essentialism is at best misguided, and at worst
dangerous. Yet, as an old Irish proverb states, and as this collection argues:
An te rugadh I stabla ni capal Everything born in a stable is not a horse.
One might add, nor is every horse born in a stable. Place of birth is therefore less critical in cultural identity than one might at first assume, and
to extend the metaphor a national literature crosses borders as easily as
it closes them. A centripetal approach based on synergies and syntheses
reroutes the essentialist bandwagon from its linear and organic path by a
move away from fixity to fluidity, from identity to difference, from dogma
to dialogue (Graham and Maley, 1999: 149). In short, it blurs the boundaries between inside and outside and directs us to what Luke Gibbons
describes as [another] way of negotiating identity through an exchange
with the other by making:
Provision, not just for vertical mobility, from the periphery to the centre, but for
lateral journeys along the margins which short-circuit the colonial divide Hybridity
need not always take the high road: when there are borders to be crossed unapproved roads might prove more beneficial than those patrolled by Global Powers.
(Gibbons, 1996: 180)

These unapproved roads provide a border-crossing opportunity beyond

the coreperiphery model and allow for a reciprocal writing in the margins which eschews essentialism and allows for conversations within and
between cultures beyond their identification with a putative cultural norm.
One such byroad is the paradigm of dislocation, duality and paradox characterised by Caledonian Antisyzygy.
Using as his example James Hoggs Private Memoirs and Confessions of
a Justified Sinner (1824) Paul Coates argues that Stories that deal explicitly

<http://www.scottishreview.net/StuartKelly192.shtml> accessed 22 April 2012.

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


with the Double seem in the main to be written by authors who are suspended between language and cultures Here the Double is the self when
it speaks another language (Coates, 1988: 32). For Coates the doubleness
of both Hogg and his novel result from his Scottishness, and by extension
his sense of fractured identity within a culture in process ofbeing subsumed
into a normative British tradition wherein its status can only ever be seen
as irreconcilably split, schismatic and peripheral. This paradigmatic duality,
popularised in 1919 by George Gregory Smith under the term Caledonian
Antisyzygy, was later immortalised by the poet Hugh MacDiarmid to mean
the antithesis, ambivalence and ambiguity which results from straddling
opposing ideologies and national identities.
This notion of the divided self in Scottish fiction and culture has faced
considerable critical animus ranging from ad hoc criticism to outright
hostility. For example, Eleanor Bell rejects the urge to categorise and
the need to mythologise in the construction of Scottish national identity
(Bell, 2004: 43). Bell cites Francis Russell Hart to support her case against
what she sees as the reductive essentialism in such approaches to Scotland:
Centuries of social observers have told us of the distinctiveness of Scottish culture
by invoking a peculiar national character. Put together, this heritage of tropes and
stereotypes produces a logical absurdity. That grandly anomalous person the typical
Scot is a schizophrenic creature at once realistic and recklessly sentimental, scientific and soldierly, bibulous and kilted, teetotal and trousered [etc]. (Bell, 2004: 42)

In sum such a stance argues that the traumatised topos of Caledonian

Antisyzygy presupposes a Master/Slave dialectic in which priority is
afforded to a notional centre (Norquay and Smyth, 2002: 2), thus England
the Master and Scotland the Slave.
For critics such as Bell, the notion of antisyzygy as a national cultural
pathology presupposes a paralysing schism at the heart of Scottish culture
which immobilises Scottish identity in static stereotypes and immuring
clichs based on anglocentric values and provincial insecurity. This process of national dependence, according to Craig Beveridge and Ronald
Turnbull, leads to another form of doubling based on the undermining of
the natives self-belief and the disintegration of local identity (Beveridge
and Turnbull, 1989: 5). In short, following Frantz Fanons account of



colonial mimicry, Beveridge and Turnbull posit the notion of the evolue;
natives who attempt to escape their ascribed inferiorism by mimicking the
culture of the metropolis.
Conversely, Cairns Craig argues that Scotlands schizophrenic anima
mundi can be viewed as an enabling rather than a disabling attribute:
Too often in studies of Scottish Culture the apparent lack of unity of the self is taken
to be the symptom of a failed identity, of a self-contradictory and destructive identity,
rather than that the healthy self is always a dialectic operating within and between
opposing elements of the self and others. (Craig, 1996: 113).

Craigs analysis of the dialectical identity of Scotland is in accord with what

Richard Kearney defines as the Irish mind: In contradistinction to the
orthodox dualist logic of either/or, the Irish mind may be seen to favour
a more dialectical logic of both/and: an intellectual ability to hold the
traditional oppositions of classical reason together in creative confluence
(Kearney, 1985: 9) Though troublingly reductive on a surface level, such
claims transcend essentialist and oppositional readings by positing the
notion that the duality of the Irish mind defies a narrow logic of identity;
it epitomizes the defiance of an excluded middle (Kearney, 1997: 213). This
paradoxical notion of an excluded middle (or marginal centre) lends itself
to an approach to both Irish and Scottish literatures which allows for an
examination of the pervasive tension at the core of hyphenated identities.
This is turn circumnavigates the critical clichs of cultural cringe and colonial deracination which define Scotland (and Ireland) as anachronisms and
anomalies in an all-encompassing British tradition.
It is not all doom and gloom. If the Ulster Plantation of 1609 saw
England using Scotland as a bulwark against Ireland then the St Andrews
Agreement of 2006 saw Scotland giving back something positive, a model
of a devolved assembly. In Devolving Scottish Literature (1992) Robert
Crawford alluded to the obvious strong shared preoccupations ofScottish
and Irish literature (Crawford, 1992: 286). Crawford extended his devolutionary argument in a review essay entitled Devolving Irish Literature
(1995). Marilyn Reizbaums Canonical Double Cross may be being

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


supplanted by a double-deal that sees IrishScottish studies emerge as a

challenge to anglocentric hegemony. Together we are strong.
In 1916 the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci argued that counterhegemony is essential to the liberation of any class to combat the ideological control of the dominant class. In the same year, in what might be
seen as a radically counter-hegemonic expression of the people nation,
Irish (and Scottish) men and women seized the General Post Office on
Sackville Street, Dublin, and read a proclamation declaring the establishment of an Irish Republic. After holding out against British superiority in
manpower and artillery for almost a week, and with Dublin in ruins, the
republican insurrectionists surrendered. The leaders of the rebellion were
tried, condemned to death, and executed by firing squad at Kilmainham
Gaol. Amongst them was the figure of the Scottish-born Irish Marxist
James Connolly radical, revolutionary, republican, and, in one of the
greatest ironies in Irish/English history, heroic martyr to the cause of
Ireland. As Catherine Rees observes, the image of Connollys execution
at Kilmainham Gaol, shot by firing squad whilst tied to a chair, so injured
from the fighting that he could not stand, helped transform him into a
martyr for the nationalist cause, and provoked widespread protest in both
Ireland and abroad (Rees, 2010: 172). Thus, due to the pathos surrounding his execution, Connolly became a burning symbol, moving from history to hagiography and from Marxism to martyrdom in death. In life he
was, as Matthew Hart argues, an Irish revolutionary, who advocated a
mixture of socialism and nationalism, theorizing that an assault on British
imperialism in Ireland might facilitate a broader social revolution (Hart,
2007: 28). In this he bore a marked similarity to his friend and supporter,
the fabled Scottish labour leader John Maclean, whose forceful and telling response to the rising and its aftermath, The Irish Tragedy: Scotlands
Disgrace (1920), chronicles the Celtic connections between Ireland and
Scotland, and demands action from his own nation:
My plea is that Britain has no right to dominate Ireland with constabulary armed with
bombs, and with an army and navy considered foreign by the Irish. We Scots have
been taught to revere the names of Sir William Wallace and Robert Bruce because
these doughty men of old are recorded as championing the cause of freedom when



Edward I and Edward II tried to absorb Scotland as part of English territory. All
Scots must therefore appreciate the plight of Ireland, which for seven centuries has
chafed under the English yoke, and now ought to stand by Ireland in her last great
effort for freedom; the last because triumph is bound to be hers very soon. (Cited
Maley, 2010: 124)

Here the militant Red Clydesider Maclean acknowledges the need for a
collective, Celtic counter-hegemony a Celtic communism set against a
divisive English imperial policy based on divide et impera.
In Willy Maley and Niall OGallaghers essay in this collection the politics and beliefs of these Celtic compatriots7 provide the context, subject and
backdrop to the works of the radical socialist versifier Hugh MacDiarmid
and the Gaelic poet Sorley Maclean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain), for whom,
as the authors argue, literary and political activism went hand in hand.
Locating each of their chosen triptych in the entwined histories of Ireland
and Scotland, Maley and OGallagher make the bold claim that the occlusion of John Maclean, and his Edinburgh counterpart Connolly, from
accounts of Scottish political and literary history is not simply a result of
political amnesia or selective memory, but Specific acts of censorship and
suppression deferred until the dust had begun to settle on decades of
agitation. Perhaps this is part of what Berresford Ellis has described as the
divisive tradition that the makers of imperial policy would like the Celts
to recall, creating scissions and animosities among them (Berresford Ellis,
1985: 188). Certainly, as Maley and OGallagher suggest, it is a suppression
of combined literary and political energy for the duration of the febrile
atmosphere of the 1930s. In a direct challenge to this oppressive hegemony,
Maley and OGallagher argue for a reconciliation, and recognition, of the
syntheses and interfaces between Scottish and Irish nationalism and socialist internationalism as essential for a proper understanding of our recent
past, and an informed debate about the future.

As Murray Pittock points out, by most measures of nationality, James Connolly

was a Scot: described as Scoto-Hibernian even in Dublin (where he came from
Edinburgh at the age of 28), he spoke with a Scots accent and named his daughter,
born in 1907, Fiona after William Sharps alter-ego (Cited Maley, 2010: 126).

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


The two poets, MacDiarmid and MacGill-Eain the one a wielder

of synthetic Scots, the other a modern Gaelic bard who form the literary backbone of Maley and OGallaghers essay offer two sides to an issue
which is especially fascinating in an IrishScottish comparative context:
the language question. Where Yeats had praised Carleton and Synge as
Irish emulators of Burnsian dialect, Edwin Muir, in his book on Walter
Scott, praised Yeats for opting for English, and decried Scottish efforts to
find a literary voice in the vernacular:
Scotland can only create a national literature by writing in English. This may sound
paradoxical: in support of it I can only advance my whole case in regard to the
Scots language, as outlined in the first part of this book, and the contemporary
case of Ireland. Irish nationality cannot be said to be any less intense than ours; but
Ireland produced a national literature not by clinging to Irish dialect, but by adopting English and making it into a language fit for all its purposes. The poetry of Mr
Yeats belongs to English literature, but no one would deny that it belongs to Irish
literature pre-eminently and essentially. The difference between contemporary Irish
and contemporary Scottish literature is that the first is central and homogeneous,
and that the second is parochial and conglomerate; and this is because it does not
possess an organ for the expression of a whole and unambiguous nationality. Scots
dialect poetry represents Scotland in bits and patches, and in doing that it is no doubt
a faithful enough image of the present divided state of Scotland. But while we cling
to it we shall never be able to express the central reality of Scotland, as Mr Yeats
has expressed the central reality of Ireland; though for such an end the sacrifice of
dialect poetry would be cheap. The real issue in contemporary Scottish literature is
between centrality and provincialism; dialect poetry is one of the chief supports of
the second of these two forces; the first can hardly be said to exist at all. And until
Scottish literature has an adequate language, it cannot exist. Scotland will remain a
mere collection of districts. (Muir, 1936: 11112)

By contrast, Robert Crawford claimed for Scottish literature an inventiveness that had a Joycean echo:
Scots is likely to strike the majority of international readers as a deliberate variation
on English, which frequently quotes, re-accents, and realigns elements of English
vocabulary, mixing them in a rich impurity with alien elements (in the same way
that some Black English works). Such Scots is a form of dialogized heteroglossia,
which is why the use of it affects not only Scottish but English identity, in much
the same way as does the superbly impure language of James Joyce and the other
Modernists. (Crawford, 1993: 7)



Thus, in Crawfords view the linguistic impurity of the Scots is a reciprocal

process a fusion and confusion which creates a crucible for convergence
between the occupier and the occupied. The language which emerges is a
palimpsest of compromises and concessions: a dialogue which is exuberantly adulterated, impure and inclusive, and border crossing in its openness
to the process of cultural renewal.
If language has the capacity to invert and challenge the normative
traditions of English, history, or the lack thereof, is a thread which weaves
a Celtic connection between the marginalised Irish and the Scots. As
Seamus Deane has argued: Ireland has no continuity of cultural experience comparable to that of the nation states of France and England
(Deane, 1985: 18), while Cairns Craig, discussing an expanded Celtic
periphery, observed: History in Scotland, Ireland and Wales remains a
series of accidents, held together by no fundamental necessity England
has a history; Ireland and Scotland will only acquire a history once they
come into the orderly and progressive world that is imposed on them by
England (Craig, 1996: 101). If, as Deane and Cairns suggest, history is
accepted as the history of the colonising power then other (subaltern)
accounts will appear to be either variations on a theme, mere propaganda
or lies. Within this conception, the historical narrative of the dominant
discourse (in this case England) is accepted as prima facie evidence of the
past event; thus reality is mediated through the dominant discourse. This,
in turn, establishes and sustains the authority of the dominant discourse to
speak the truth, resulting in the subaltern (in this case the Scots and Irish)
being written out of history. It follows that, as Cairns suggests, Scotland
and by extension Ireland, due to their colonial contexts, are bypassed by
history and therefore historyless. Yet, paradoxically what Scotland and
Ireland have in common with other putatively postcolonial cultures is the
impossibility of an escape from history, [] with the recurrent sense that
the past can never be left behind, that it will appear and exact a necessary
price (Punter and Byron, 2004: 55). In short, history to the colonised is
by nature recidivist; crystallised in the familiar Gothic trope of deferred
retribution. There is according to Alan Bissett: something/someone/
somebody that haunts the fringes of the Scottish imagination perhaps the whisper of history, pain, feudalism, legend, all or none of these

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


things, but undoubtedly Scotlands is a fiction haunted by itself, one in

a perpetual state of Gothicism (Bissett, 2001: 6). Equally, in Ireland, as
Siobhan Kilfeather argues:
Gothic fiction enables Irish writers to address anxieties about speech and silence,
to accuse the state and the family of psychological terrorism without having to propose a program of reform []. It demands some reflection on what possibilities for
change are allowed by an obsession with a memory ofthe dead. (Kilfeather, 1994: 46)

This Gothicism of the Celtic peripheries is symptomatic of a history of

unresolved issues and unfinished business, littered with the detritus left by
the colonial storm of progress; a cryptic palimpsest of ellipses and silences
from which ancestral voices cry out for retribution and reprisal, and the
silenced Celtic bogeyman threatens to contaminate the present with his
primitive, anachronistic return. Ireland, according to an anonymous report
in the Nation of 5 February 1848:
is the fatigue ground of the English imagination, and a full-bellied dyspeptic people
must have their daily providence of terror, that they may sup full of horrors, and
bless their stars for living east of the channel. Every people in every age have their
country of monsters, where human kind, like evil demons drank human blood, and
lived on the marrow of dead mens bones [] it is now our part to furnish England
with monsters, thugs and devils great and devils small. (Cited Cosgrove, 1995: 99)

Such squalid and monstrous behaviours were not confined to west of the
channel but stalked and menaced the English imagination from north of
the border in the figure of the wild Highlander, a savage, uncouth and
ineradicably superstitious throwback to primitive times whose lawlessness
and savagery were thinly disguised beneath a veneer of civilisation. By the
mid-nineteenth century a Celtophobic gulf existed between the civilised
English and wild Celt, with the Celtic mentalit in all its savage irrationalism representing a dangerous antithesis to the English scientific mind,
hence racial conflations of the Irish and the Highland Scots, and fantastical
and fanatical depictions of Celtic inferiority such as the following piece of
chauvinism expounded by the Edinburgh-born Dr Robert Knox:



The Celtic race does not, and never could be made to comprehend the meaning of
the word liberty I appeal to the Saxon men of all countries whether I am right
or not in my estimation of Celtic character. Furious fanaticism; a love of war and
disorder; a hatred for order and patient industry; no accumulative habits; restless,
treacherous, uncertain (Cited Cheng, 1995: 29)

Thus, for Knox as for many other scientific racists, the Celtic periphery
represents a source of terrifying otherness which justifies racist xenophobia
as a response to a very specific threat of racial pollution in the contact zones
of Empire. For Knox, race is axiomatic in determining character, and the
indolent and belligerent Celts are deviant and degenerate racial specimens
who embody the darkest imaginings, dreads and desires of Enlightenment
While Celtophobic ethnocentrism attempted to demonise and expel
the pre-Enlightenment spectres of the Celtic fringes primitive past, the
Gothic with its register of excess, transgression and taboo glutted itself
on the steady diet of atavistic antagonisms and malevolent mythologies (Flannery, 2006: 92) which stemmed from the haunted histories of
Scotland and Ireland. Strewn with the corpses of colonialisms hated others,
Scottish and Irish gothic evokes what Ian Duncan describes as demonic
forces expelled from the modern order of nature, whose return threatens a
reverse colonisation rendering the present alien, unnatural, fatal, exposing
its metaphysical emptiness (Duncan, 2000: 77). The Celtic connection
between Scottish and Irish Gothic can thus be seen as a legacy of a colonial psychology which flirts with phantasms of usurpation, origins and
legitimacy to provide an uncanny testimony to the violence of the colonial
past, and the pastness of the postcolonial present.
Numerous scholars from Roy Foster to Victor Sage have argued that
Gothic is a distinctly Protestant mode, with the typical Gothic scenario
representing a dramatisation of the extreme distrust held by early authors
of Gothic towards countries which practised Catholicism. The sublime
settings, often Mediterranean, invariably Catholic, and usually Medieval,
were used as a backdrop and mise en scne designed to evoke the horror and
dread associated with the perceived superstition and fanaticism of feudal
Catholicism set against the civilised world of progressive Protestantism.

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


Indeed, as John Strachan, citing Charles Maturin, claims in this collection,

the barbarism of the feudal ages, with their wild superstitions and dubious
Christianity, their knightly gallantry and baronial oppression, the native
fierceness of the Gothic conqueror, mingled with the levity, bigotry, of his
Italian and Gallic slave, offer powerful materials to the painter of manners
with the pen.8
Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland served as suitable receptacles
for Protestant and Enlightenment fears of the violent resurrection and
atavistic return of a primitive past (as represented by the Roman Church)
that threatened to drag Enlightened Europe back into the Dark Ages.
Added to this the fear of Catholic, not to mention Jacobite, resurgence
was never far from overheated Protestant imaginations in Britain in the
mid-eighteenth century (Gibbons, 2004: 17). Such attitudes resulted in
the spatial displacement of Gothic terrors from the exotic climes of the
Mediterranean to the Celtic periphery. Indeed, as Luke Gibbons argues:
While the Jacobite ghost had been politically exorcized in the decades after Culloden,
it assumed a new, cultural afterlife in the Irish and Scottish periphery, re-emerging
in the national imaginaries of Ossian, Celticism, the historical novel, and, of course,
the Gothic itself. (Gibbons, 2004: 19)

Politically exorcised perhaps, but culturally salient nonetheless, the dark

shadow of Jacobinism continued to stalk the Protestant imagination as a
sinister and terrifying monument to past wrongs, tormenting the English,
and Anglican imaginations, by speaking of unresolved guilt and the question of legitimacy, several generations after the event (Gibbons, 2004: 19).
Two of the essays in this collection concern themselves with Irish and
Scottish Gothic. In the first, John Strachan discusses a text that has become
near paradigmatic as a Gothic tour de force: Charles Robert Maturins
Melmoth the Wanderer. With conceptual rigour, Strachans essay addresses
what many have seen as the thematic core of Maturins novel the symbolic and sacramental trappings of Catholicism and establishes a link

Charles Robert Maturin (1824), The Albigenses. A Romance, 4 vols, Hurst, Robinson
and Co., London, vol. 1, p.vii.



between Ireland and Scotland by discussing its reception in the two most
significant Scots periodicals of the day, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine
and the Edinburgh Review. Drawing on the evidence of these texts, and
acknowledging the contribution to the Gothic tradition of James Hogg,
Strachan locates Maturins text in relation to a burgeoning tradition oftales
of terror evolving in Scottish periodicals in the early nineteenth century.
He concludes by placing Maturin on an intra-national and an international
stage as a traditionalist in form, and an anti-papist in belief, thereby adding
to a continuous debate about the nature of Irishness in both the novel
and the novelist.
At the opposite end of the nineteenth century, Alison OMalleyYounger returns to the notion of Celtic Gothic through the lens of
Robert Louis Stevensons short fiction. While the priest-hating, ostracised
and impoverished Anglo-Irishman of Strachans essay may seem a strange
bedfellow with the languorous, bohemian Scot of OMalley-Youngers,
there are contact points that suggest border-crossings and blurred distinctions operating across the Celtic peripheries. Maturins near maniacal
anti-Catholicism, for example, is reflected in the hysterical scapegoating
of William Burke: Irishman, Catholic, murderer, and one of the subjects
of Stevensons crawler The Bodysnatcher (1884). While the Faustian John
Melmoth stalks the pages of Maturins Gothic extravaganza as a symbol
of tainted inheritance, he reappears doubly in the shadowy figures of the
degenerate Irishmen, Burke and Hare, in Stevensons short story. In each
instance the demonic and demonised figures at the core of the texts represent the terrifying possibility of a recidivist return of the repressed irrupting
into the present. Thus, as these essays argue, the spectres of John Melmoth
and Messrs Burke and Hare can be seen as supernatural symptoms and
spectral scapegoats of a tormented colonial imagination, and Celtic Gothic
a means of redressing rather than disavowing the sins of the past by rattling the skeletons in its own vaults, thus going some way towards exposing the calcified cultural deposits that underlie the ideology of race itself
(Gibbons, 2004: 16).
If antipathy towards the Celtic (and Catholic) undergirded many of
the Gothic tropes in nineteenth-century Irish and Scottish literatures,
Celticism also provoked a reverse ethnocentrism in the Celtic peripheries

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


wherein ethnocentric men and women sought to combat heavy doses of

Anglo-Saxonist venom with a Celticist serum of their own making (L.P.
Curtis, cited in Cheng, 1995: 50). This was made manifest in the patriotic
Anglophobia of Pan-Celtic institutions such as the Gaelic League, the
narrow gauge nationalism of Sinn Fein and the volkish Celticism of the
Revivalists, for whom the ancient Celtic past became a crucible of authenticity. For these Pan-Celtic enthusiasts Celtic culture became aligned with
the medieval, with the pre-modern, the archaic, and the maladapted; with
all those things whose inevitable fate it was to be vanquished by modernity
(Cleary, 2005: 1). Conversely modernity became equated with colonial
oppression, as Emer Nolan points out:
The modern, in colonial conditions, is associated with foreignness, domination and
violence; it is in no sense naturalised in the course of a long process of economic and
social development. It is precisely in such a situation that the culturally old appears
most intensely valuable, and becomes the object of political contestation. For a while
it may virtually obliterate traditional culture, such an experience of modernisation
also confers an auratic significance on the remnants ofthe archaic. (Nolan, 2005: 225)

Thus, while the history of the Celtic fringes remained a history strewn with
the corpses of Celtic monsters, this same Celtic history became to Irish
and Scottish Revivalists the antiquarian linchpin (or Tara Brooch) for a
myth-making, Anglophobic, national collective unconscious. What was
at stake for Revivalists was nothing less than the regeneration, reinvigoration and restoration of the Irish and Scottish nations, the essence of which
lay in a remote idealised past, inhabited by a pantheon of Celtic gods and
monsters, and peopled by primitives and peasants tending their quaint,
parochial kailyards and farmlands while transmitting ancestral voices in
their cadenced (often Gaelic) folksongs. This Eleusinian fairyland represented for writers such as Yeats the richness of the national imagination,
and the anima mundi of the nation set against the mercantile soullessness
of England. As Jacqueline Genet observes: By helping to create an ideal
image of rural Ireland, Yeats spreads the idea that the true soul of the
country is in its rural roots. All industrial progress is considered an act of
treason against the traditional ideals (Genet, 1996: 148). In short, Ireland
had culture and England had commerce.



According to Lauren Clark in her essay on Celtic Consumerism,

Scotland and Ireland had commerce too. Beginning with a quotation
from charismatic Celticist Patrick Geddes, Clark takes us into the heart
of Scotlands Celtic Renascence, and its inception in 1890s Edinburgh. It
is well documented that Cultural Revivalism in both Ireland and Scotland
represented a rearguard action against modernity as its proponents turned
to the timeless sanctuary of an imagined past. Thus
in disavowing the discontinuous tempos of the city, commerce and modernity,
this [Revivalist] critical tradition has persistently sought radical alternatives in the
assumed continuities of folk cultures, authentic habits and genuine communities.
(Chambers, 1994: 71)

The temper of this tradition, born in the wake of Romantic nationalism, was
anti-modern, anti-mechanistic and anti-urban: hence glorified interpretations of pre-industrial life, and depictions of unspoilt folk culture which
has escaped the ravages of that crucible of consumerism: modernity. In
contradiction, particularly in Ireland conspicuous consumerism (as exemplified by the Great Exhibition of the 1850s) was vitiated, and consumers
reviled as shallow, superficial, ersatz and vulgar by turn-of-the-century
arbiters of taste, and disdained by radical cultural nationalists. Yet, in the
midst of the frenzy of squabbling about West Britonism and cultural
cringe, the Revivalists and associated cultural developments such as the
Home Industries and Co-operative movements can be viewed as self-help
initiatives designed to regenerate a moribund Irish economy. Similarly in
Scotland, reformers such as Geddes initiated schemes of urban renewal
designed to improve the living conditions of the poor, including those
who resided in the rotting cabins of old Ireland [and] the squalid and
super-crowded tenement of the Scot (Geddes, 1971: 113).
As Clark makes clear, despite the apparent hypocrisies and contradictions of Revivalists over the evils of commerce, some Revivalists positively
encouraged exhibitions in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast in
what they themselves dubbed the Second Cities of Empire as a means to
promote other identities namely international, industrial, artistic and
civic from 1853 to 1911. The Celtic consumerism which emerged, often

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


wrapped in the livery of kitsch, was, as Clark describes it, an uncomfortable and colonially therapeutic truth used to promote Celtic industries
and identities in the fin de sicle period.
Here as elsewhere, the image of the Celt (seen in the immuring clichs
of the mock Highland village) is viewed as essentially unfitted to commerce
as anything other than a spectacle to be consumed. This follows essentialist
and deterministic notions which branded the Celt as indolent, resistant
to advancement, ineffectual in politics, wanting in sanity and, as Matthew
Arnold famously stated, always ready to react against the despotism of fact,
a factor which Arnold observes has lamed him in the world of business and
politics.9 For Yeats, Celtic values resided in the hypostasised Irish Celt as
represented in his own euhemeristic folk tales and fairy legends. The fairies of Ireland, fostered by the tolerant mysticism of the Catholic Celts (to
Yeats Catholicism and Celticism appeared almost homologous), lived in a
convivial mystic fraternity, not enjoyed by their Caledonian cousins as the
temper of the taciturn Scots, too theological and too gloomy had soured
the naturally excellent disposition of ghosts and goblins (Cited Maley,
2007: 164). Yeatss description of hosts of disgruntled Scottish elementals
due to what he perceived as the dour, Protestant empiricism of the Scottish
character is, of course, partisan and problematic. Moreover it flies in the
face of notions of Caledonian Antisyzygy and the pluralistic and divided
nature of [t]he Scottish muse, which according to G. Gregory Smith:
has loved reality, sometimes to maudlin affection for the commonplace, [but] she
has loved not less the airier pleasure to be found in the confusion of the senses, in
the fun of things thrown topsy-turvy, in the horns of elf-land and the voices of the
mountain. (Smith, 1919: 19)

Yeats, then, in scotching the myth of the doubleness of the Scottish temperament, splits the polar twins of the Scottish muse (in Middleton,
1995: 20), and turns Scotland into a surly only child who doesnt believe

Matthew Arnold (1867), Study of Celtic Literature, Smith, Elder & Co., London,
p.14; quoted in Diarmuid Giollin (2000), Locating Irish Folklore: Tradition,
Modernity, Identity, Cork University Press, Cork, p.105.



in fairies. Yet, when it came to Fiona MacLeod, the Celtic Tigerlily who
put the prim into primeval (Maley, 2007: 170), Yeats was infinitely more
accommodating to a cross pollination of ideas, arguing that she [Macleod]
had in her hands the keys to the gates of the primeval world, which shut
behind more successful races, when they plunged into material progress
(Cited Maley, 2007: 170).
In the history of twice-told tales, doppelgangers, double-dealers and
divided selves attributed to the Scots, Fiona MacLeod/William Sharp stand
as a monument to Caledonian antisyzygy. An ambiguous twofold beacon
of fusion and confusion filtered through a double-life, a persona and a
pseudonym, William Sharp instigated the second identity of the Gaelicspeaking Highlander Fiona MacLeod as part of his passionate Celticism,
and proceeded through his mystical renderings and multiple letters to exert
a profound influence on writers such as AE and Yeats.
Fiona MacLeod was neither the first nor the only soubriquet Sharp
adopted in the course of his literary career.10 However, for Sharp, MacLeod
was much more than another nom de plume, but a second self, embodying
the mystic, the mythic and the esoteric elements ofScottishness more commonly associated with the anachronistic Highlander than with a middle
class gentleman from Paisley. So seriously did Sharp take the pseudonym,
argues Richard Ellmann, so fully did he assume in 1894 the personality of
Fiona MacLeod, that he wrote under her name books in a style different
from his own, sent letters to her for friends in a feminine handwriting,
complained to friends who wrote to her that they never wrote to him, and
eventually almost collapsed under the double life (Ellmann, 1948: 77).
A cerebrally dimorphic (Manlove, 1994: 126) antiquarian and Celticist,
MacLeod almost pulled off a greater hoax than Macphersons Ossian controversy, and like Macphersons well documented Ossianic fraud MacLeod

Sharpes periodical The Pagan Review (1892) included articles on Scotlands Celtic
cultural heritage written by a number of different personae including the editor W.H.
Brooks. Its success helped to establish Sharp with the Celtic Renaissance movement
in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Latterly the popularity of the otherworldly MacLeod
drew attention to the Edinburgh branch of the Celtic Renaissance fronted by Patrick

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


generated considerable amounts of vehement spleen amongst the Revivalist

communities, especially in Ireland. In relation to Macphersons antiquarian
swindle Russell K. Alspach identifies the source of Hibernian irritation:
The feeling toward Macpherson in Ireland was mostly one of irritation,
for it was felt that he had dressed Cuchulin and Finn in the kilt and plaid
besides winding the strands of the two great sagas into a Gordian knot
(Alspach, 1959: 97). MacLeod, like Macpherson, was also trafficking in borrowed robes, but doubly so: whereas Macpherson was adorning bits and
pieces of Irish and Celtic legend borrowed, altered, and embellished with
his own creative writing (Trumpener, 1997: 75) in the authentic plaid of
the Highlander, Sharp/MacLeod took it one step further and channelled
his/her Celtic myths through the voice of a woman, and one who successfully pulled off the deception almost.
Yeats was initially enraptured by MacLeods supernatural Celticism,
commissioning two plays, The House of Usna11 and The Immortal Hour12
for the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899. This was vetoed by Lady Gregory
who baulked at the idea of a Pan-Celtic theatrical movement, famously
thumbing her nose at MacLeod thus:
I think the word Celtic was put in for the sake of Fiona MacLeod, whose plays
however we never acted, although we used to amuse ourselves by thinking of the call
for author that might follow one, and the possible appearance of William Sharp
in place of the beautiful woman he had given her out to be, for even then we had
little doubt they were one and the same person. I myself never quite understood the
meaning of the Celtic Movement which we were said to belong to. When I was
asked about it, I used to say it was a movement meant to persuade the Scots to begin
buying our books, while we continued not to buy theirs. (Cited Maley, 2007: 171)

From the tone of the piece it appears that Gregorys words are motivated
more by personal dislike of Sharp/Macleod than by her political, artistic or
cultural beliefs.13 Nonetheless she makes an important point to be Celtic

Performed by the Stage Society of London in April 1900.

Published in The Fortnightly Review in 1900.
This is just as well bearing in mind Gregorys avowed Irishness is somewhat fudged
by the inconvenient truths of her Ascendancy background and social class. As one



one had to have credentials most of which she herself did not have. These
included poverty, piety, peasantry and an address in the Irish Gaeltacht
with no pressing necessity to speak the indigenous language.
While Gregory leaned towards separation rather than synthesis
between Celtic peoples, MacLeod issued a cri de coeur for a Celtic commonality of purpose between the Irish and the Scots in an article entitled
Celtic published in the Contemporary Review in 1900:
The Celtic element in our national life has a vital and great part to play. We have a
most noble ideal if we will but accept it. And that is, not to perpetuate feuds, not
to try to win back what has gone away upon the wind, not to repay ignorance with
scorn, or dullness with contempt, or past wrongs with present hatred, but so to live,
so to pray, so to hope, so to achieve so that we, what is left of the Celtic races, of the
Celtic genius, may permeate the greater race of which we are a vital part, so that, with
this Celtic emotion, Celtic love of beauty, and Celtic spirituality, a nation greater
than any the world has seen may issue, a nation refined and strengthened by the wise
relinquishings, and steadfast ideals of Celt and Saxon, united in a common fatherland,
and in a singleness of pride and faith. (Cited Weygandt, 1913: 254)

There are shades of Arnold and Renan in Macleods comments about the
Celtic races, but also an acknowledgement of Celtic Connections that is
lacking in Gregory. Celticism for MacLeod was less dependent on nationality than it was on temperament, Gaeldom and unification with other
Celts; Gregorys interest rested on the uncorrupted integrity of Irelands
specific culture as a justification for a break with British rule.
Gregory did not stand alone. In a rejoinder to Macleods Celtic
published on 18 August 1900 in Standish OGradys All Ireland Review
George Russell (AE) argued that Celtic Revivalism was Irelands last stand
for freedom (Russell, 1900: 1), a freedom that could only be attained by
eschewing the compromise advocated by Macleod (whom he defines as an
English writer): God gives no second chance to a nation if it flings aside
its birthright (Russell, 1900: 1). The article ends:

who collected the rents of her poor tenants as readily as she did their superstitions
and stories her ties to the Gael were somewhat questionable. With this in mind it
may be worth flavouring her words with a large helping of irony.

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


She [Macleod] humbly speaks of herself as the representative voice of the Gael.
This is a claim which the Gael in Ireland will repudiate; for the Gael in Ireland, in
addition to his traditions which are shared to some extent by the Scottish Celt, has
the aspiration to a distinct and self-governed nationality, and no-one can claim to
represent him who does not share this aspiration. (AE, 1900: 1)

Thus, while Russell is happy to acknowledge the sense of tradition which

connects the Irish and Scottish Celts, he demurs from seeing Celtic connections in their relative aspirations for the future. Ireland demands selfgovernment; Scots, he argues, are content to work within a larger Great
British identity, and it is here in their respective relationships with England
that the Celtic connection is broken.
In each instance, be it Macleod, Russell or Gregory, however, there is a
sense of the incontrovertible fact that authentic national identity (whether
Irish, Scots or a Celtic combination of both) sprang from a purer, prelapsarian pre-industrial past, only available to the contemporary reader
through translation or transliteration a facet of Celtic identity and culture
which Masaya Shimokusu addresses in this collection in an essay which
takes MacLeod to a level of connectedness beyond what s/he defined as
the Celtic races to Japan. Taking us first to the heart of the Irish Revival,
with Douglas Hydes appreciative comments about MacLeods place in the
Scoto-Celtic movement, Shimokusu then places Macleod on a global stage,
and meticulously traces the thematic and formal, and pseudonymic, connections between Katayama/Mineko Matsumura and Sharp/Macleod. He
concludes that, in Japan at least, Macleod crested a wave of Hibernophilia
existing in the first decades of the twentieth century, and that s/he was
greatly admired as an Irish writer during this time.
As the cases of Fiona Macleod and earlier James Macpherson suggest,
there is poetry in propaganda, and there is propaganda in poetry. These
bardic translations contained a healthy dose of each, operating as a wellspring from which Celtic peoples, parched from years of colonial suppression could drink and be reinvigorated in the sure and certain knowledge
of their entitlement to independence from British rule. Situated in the
afterglow of a pre-lapsarian Celtic past, and the foreglow of a post-lapsarian
golden future, these discovered and translated texts suggest a recoverable,



vibrant anterior life, and offer a pulpit from which its tales can be told; tales
which neither have to be historical, factual or even remotely resemble the
truth. As Susan Manning argues: Macphersons Ossianic epics attempt to
re-establish lost links, associations with a previously whole, now ruined but
desired national life bereft of reference and with historical events and
local conditions elided (Manning, 2002: 1489). In other words, what is
presented is, according to Cairns Craig, a world of cycles and repetitions,
rather than beginnings, middles and ends (Craig, 1996: 36); a world in
which the logic of history has failed, and has been replaced by myth (Craig,
1996: 105) a mythic sensibility inseparable from its colonial context.
Having mapped out a series of connections in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries, the collection closes with four essays that bring
the story up to date. Deirdre OByrne undertakes a subtle and searching
exploration of December Bride (1951), Hanna Bells moving novel firmly
rooted in rural, Northern-IrishScots culture. A film version directed by
Thaddeus OSullivan in 1990 brought Bells book to a new audience, but
here OByrne argues eloquently for its lasting literary significance and proposes a new edition that will finally allow December Bride to take its place
as a beautiful example of IrishScottish writing that depicts a dimension
of Irish experience too often lost in the focus on Anglo-Irish relations.
Martyn Colebrook looks at a more recent novel that paints a powerful
picture of cross-border conflict and connections that run across the water
from Belfast to Glasgow, Liam McIlvanneys debut novel, All the Colours
of the Town (2009). Colebrooks reading of McIlvanney is a model of critical engagement with a contemporary text that plugs into debates around
sectarianism, the peace process and the legacy of violence. Like OByrnes
essay, it valuably points up the degree to which family, memory and religion
connect Irish and Scottish and IrishScottish communities.
Emily A. Ravenscroft and James Mollison focus on a recent reworking
ofMacbeth, the so-called Scottish play, in Northern Irelands maximumsecurity facilities at HMP Maghaberry. Filmed as Mickey B in 2009, this
adaptation emerged under the auspices of the Educational Shakespeare
Company (ESC), with the prisoners involved at every level from script to
set-construction. Ravenscroft and Mollison do not attempt to reconstruct
the original IrishScottish context of Shakespeares drama of monarchy,

Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


tyranny and national conflict, nor do they seek to make neat comparisons
with present debates around devolution or independence. Rather they
embark on a scrupulously theorised reading of the process and production
of this unique artefact by way of a rigorous Foucauldian analysis of power
and corruption in the penal system. Their chapter leads nicely into the
final essay, by Stefanie Lehner and Cillian McGrattan, which acts almost
as an afterword as it examines the state of play in IrishScottish studies.
Their conclusion, that in the imagined nations of Scotland, Ireland and
Northern Ireland the deferred realities of the social and economic continue
to haunt politics, is only negative if we are afraid of ghosts, rather than willing to embrace or exorcise them. If the Scotland of Shakespeares haunting
play was almost afraid to know itself , and that of Joyces barbed verse a
mere poor sister, then the relations recorded here are more nuanced. Celtic
connections, informed by union and empire as much as independence and
resistance, are a two-way street, and a way out of the cul-de-sac of familiar
Anglo-Irish obsessions. It is only fitting that this volume should end with
two co-authored essays, and that four of the contributions, including this
introduction, should be collaborative efforts. Yeats, who took a more generous view of Celtic connections than Joyce, subscribed to the old Gaelic
adage that contention is better than loneliness. Celtic connections may be
contentious, but we hope readers of this collection will enjoy the company.

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Introduction: Twilight to Tiger


ORourke, Donny (ed.) (1994), Dream State: The New Scottish Poets, Polygon,
Pittock, Murray (1999), Celtic Identity and the British Image, Manchester University
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Pittock, Murray (2008), Scottish and Irish Romanticism, Oxford University Press,
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Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and

Melmoth the Wanderer

When they brought me to a Christian land, I thought I should have

found them all Christians.
And what did you find them, then, Immalee?
Only Catholics.
C.R. Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)

In the early 1820s, the Reverend Charles Robert Maturin delivered a sermon
at St Peters in Dublin, the church at which he had been a curate for over
a decade, his hopes for preferment in the Church of Ireland hampered by
the controversies dogging his other careers as dramatist and novelist. In
one of the perorations which were later to be collected under the forthright title of Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic Church
(1824), Maturin preached on a theme close to his heart: the pernicious,
even meretricious, nature of Roman Catholic theology and its malign
influence on his country:
The Church of Rome, it is well known, allows the commutation of penance; that is,
that a person shall be allowed to take on himself the penance enjoined on another
for the commission of sin; and thus, in Italy, in Spain, in Portugal, even in deluded,
besotted Ireland, a wealthy offender may bribe, for a trifling sum, a guiltless pauper
to commute with the Almighty for his offences! (Maturin, 1824a: 86)

This is a mournful exposure, laments Maturin, as if one sinner could

atone for the iniquity of another, as if sin were an article of exchange, like
a burden of corn or a bundle of hay (Maturin, 1824a: 86).



The notion of the commutation of penance which Maturin attacks

in the Five Sermons also underpins the great Gothic novel which that
remarkable clergyman had published in 1820, Melmoth the Wanderer. In
that work, over many decades, the doomed, damned Irish gentleman John
Melmoth, who has sold his soul to the devil for an extension of 150 years
to his lifespan, tempts a series of people enduring extremes of suffering
in gaol, in a madhouse, in the very dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition
itself with the prospect of immediate freedom and (temporary) relief
from their agonies, but cannot find anyone willing to take on his own dark
penance. In this essay I want to examine the theological symbolism of
Melmoth the Wanderer, and to place the novels anti-Catholicism in both
the tradition of the Gothic novel and in the context of Maturins pulpit
oratory and his lifelong conviction of the Roman Catholic Churchs unwelcome influence on what he saw as deluded, besotted Ireland. I shall also
briefly discuss the reception of Maturins novel which was published in
Edinburgh by Archibald Constable in Scotland, notably in the two most
significant Scots periodicals of the day, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine
and the Edinburgh Review.

In April 1794, meditating on what it called the Gothic tale, a contributor
to the Anthologia Hibernica, Dublins recently-established answer to the
Gentlemans Magazine, argued that the whole of the Gothic system, with
its train of witcheries and magic, has a certain awful obscurity in its nature,
that renders it peculiarly the fit abode of fiction (Anthologia Hibernica,
1794: 278). This sentiment is indubitably Burkean in its emphasis upon the
affective power of awful obscurity, but it is also testimony to contemporary
Protestant British and Irish perceptions of the Middle Ages as times of credulity, superstition and, to many eyes, outdated religion. In the foreword
to his final novel, The Albigenses (1824), C.R. Maturin himself wrote that

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


the barbarism of the feudal ages, with their wild superstitions and dubious
Christianity, their knightly gallantry and baronial oppression, the native
fierceness of the Gothic conqueror, mingled with the levity, bigotry, of his
Italian and Gallic slave, offer powerful materials to the painter of manners
with the pen (Maturin, 1824b; 1, vii).
The word Gothic, as we know, was originally used in the adjectival
sense of pertaining to the medieval before being applied, from the second
half of the eighteenth century onwards, to the tonal register of supernaturally-inflected novels set in the Middle Ages and in early modern Catholic
Europe, in the wake of Horace Walpoles somewhat ludicrous but undeniably ground-breaking fiction The Castle of Otranto. A Gothic Story (1764).
From Walpole through to the 1790s heyday of the early Gothic novel in
the work of Monk Lewis and Ann Radcliffe there were a series of novels
which exploited the Gothic system at its most lurid, in sundry ghoulishness set among abbeys, nunneries, and inquisitorial chambers, all, of course,
explicitly identified as Roman Catholic. Ann Radcliffes skill, for instance,
was to exploit a fascination with an exotic, decidedly un-English past in
the Spain and Italy of centuries ago. Jane Austen knew of the profound
difference between the society which surrounded the modern reader of
the supernatural romance and the Mediterranean past exploited in the settings and scenery of those novels, and this informs Catherine Morlands
self-recriminations in Northanger Abbey (published 1818), after her quixotic
attempt to read the English present in terms of the Radcliffean representation of Europe has led her to mortification and self-realisation, The visions
of romance are over: Charming as were all Mrs Radcliffes works, and
charming even as were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them
perhaps that human nature, at least in the Midland counties of England,
was to be looked for. Of the Alps and Pyrenees, with their pine forests and
their vices, they might give a faithful delineation; and Italy, Switzerland,
and the South of France, might be as fruitful in horrors as they were there
represented But in England it was not so (Austen, 2003: 147).
Early Gothic fictions such as Walpoles or Radcliffes exploit this contrast between the continental past supposedly an age of superstition and
the British present supposedly a time of enlightenment and rationality.
Mediterranean scenes as per the Italianate settings of much Elizabethan



and Jacobean tragedy are not uncommon in English literature before the
eighteenth century, adding a pleasing exoticism to tales of blood, but there
is a certain self-congratulatory aspect to the Gothic novel, a conviction of
the superiority of modern British culture over the foreign, places which
are mired in the past and, indeed, in Roman Catholicism. The last great
traditional Gothic novel of the Romantic era, Melmoth the Wanderer,
written by a Church of Ireland clergyman, clings to the anti-Catholicism
of Walpole, and especially Lewis, in its soapbox oratory condemning the
religious system of Catholicism, the novels religious convictions summed
up in the fact that Immalee, Maturins noble savage heroine, when taken
to Spain from her island in the Indian Ocean, expects to find Christians
in a Christian land, but instead finds only Catholics (Maturin, 1820: 340).
In using a mixture of Lewisian and Radcliffean plot devices, notably in
his tales of the Spanish Inquisition and the travails of monastic life, Maturin
was consciously looking backwards to a tradition which was beginning to
lose ground in the contemporary, post-Napoleonic tale of terror. Francis
Jeffrey of the Edinburgh Review, in his notice of Melmoth the Wanderer is
exactly right in identifying Maturins models, though he has no time for
either, considering the tradition which they exemplified as beyond moribund: No writer of good judgment would have attempted to revive the
defunct horrors of Mrs Radcliffes School of Romance, or the demoniacal
incarnations of Mr Lewis ( Jeffrey, 1821: 353).
The word defunct here is an interesting one. It is undeniable that in
the same period in which Maturins huge and remarkable book appeared,
the Gothic was taking new conceptual directions, both in the short story
and the novel, away from the preoccupations evident in the supernatural romance from Walpoles work through to that of Lewis. In Scotland,
Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, established in 1817, began to publish its
influential series of short Gothic tales which directly influenced the work
of Edgar Allan Poe in the 1830s and 1840s.1 In the same period that mon-

As Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick have written, Blackwoods was particularly
interested in the ghastly and macabre. Novels of terror and sensation like William
Godwins Mandeville (1817), Charles Maturins Melmoth the Wanderer (1820), and

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


strous, bloodthirsty figure which still possesses the popular imagination in

our day the vampire made its first appearance in Gothic fiction, in John
Polidoris story The Vampyre, published in the New Monthly Magazine in
1819. As well as the tale, the Gothic novel was also rapidly mutating into
new forms in this period, in James Hoggs meditation on sin and suffering
in his religious satire on Calvinism, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of
a Justified Sinner (1824) and the scientific Gothic of Mary Shelleys enduringly famous Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (1818). Maturin, on
the other hand, consciously evoked conventional Gothic fiction. As well as
looking backwards at what he saw as the outdated and tyrannous religious
system of Catholicism, Maturin was taking Gothic fiction back to its traditional settings and its thematic roots in anti-Catholicism.
There were those who rebuked him for it. The Reverend Maturin was
chided for his religious intemperance by that rationalist Scotsman Francis
Jeffrey, the editor of the Edinburgh Review, who set about Melmoth in his
journal in July 1821, in part on religious grounds, finding Maturin guilty
of raking in the long-forgotten rubbish of Popery for extinct enormities. These, Jeffrey argues, he exaggerates as the inevitable result, rather
than the casual abuse of the system ( Jeffrey, 1821: 358). He emphasises
the particularly Irish religious context of the novel, in declaring that We
shall not stop to stigmatize, as it deserves, the wild and flagrant calumnies
which he insinuates against three-fourths of his countrymen ( Jeffrey,
1821: 358). Jeffrey was part of the Whig cohort around the Edinburgh
who were in favour of Emancipation, their views exemplified in fellow
contributor the Reverend Sydney Smiths scorn expressed in a letter of
1813 of the great mass of fools, of whom the public is composed, and
who really believe there is danger in conceding so much to the Catholics
(Smith, 1981: 68). To Jeffrey, Maturin was indulging in the worst kind of
anachronistic scare-mongering.

[ John] Galts The Omen (1825) were reviewed, complete with lengthy excerpts, while
[ J.G.] Lockhart and [R.P.] Gillies critique of E.T. A Hoffmans The Devils Elixir
(1824) had a profound effect on Poe (Tales of Terror from Blackwoods Magazine, ed.
Robert Morrison and Chris Baldick (Oxford: Oxford Worlds Classics, 1995), xi).



Francis Jeffrey also had no time for Maturins prose style and what
he sees as the novelists immoral, obscene and relentless displays of horror
(which he quotes at length in the very act of condemning them) and tawdry
We are presented with sybils and misers; parricides; maniacs in abundance; monks
with scourges pursuing a naked youth streaming with blood; subterranean Jews surrounded by the skeletons of their wives and children; lovers blasted by lightning;
Irish hags, Spanish grandees, shipwrecks, caverns, Donna Claras and Donna Isidores,
all opposed to each other in glaring and violent contrast, and all their adventures
narrated with the same undeviating display of turgid, vehement, and painfully elaborated language. ( Jeffrey, 1821: 354)

Significantly, Jeffrey also interprets Maturins gaudy and ornate style in

terms of his national antecedents. Addressing the writers of Ireland in
general, the critic declares that Their genius runs riot in the wantonness
of its own uncontrolled exuberance ( Jeffrey, 1821, 356). Maturins works,
like those of Thomas Moore (despite Jeffreys conviction that he was the
sweetest lyric poet of this or perhaps any age), are garbed in excessive
finery, and Jeffrey concludes that this demonstrates that Ireland has not
reached the cultural level of Great Britain: their imagination, he concludes, disdaining the restraint of judgment, imparts to their literature
the characteristics of a nation in one of the earlier stages of civilization
and refinement ( Jeffrey, 1821: 356).
There is a paradox here: C.R. Maturin himself considered that Ireland
was, indeed, in the earlier stages of civilization. However, unlike Jeffrey,
he believed that the reason that the country had not developed fully was
because of its priest-ridden nature. Ireland, he declares in the Five Sermons,
though the first in valour and genius among the nations of Europe is
simultaneously the last in the mighty march of mind towards intellectual
liberty. Even the patriots and heroes of his country, he laments, were
the dupes of priestcraft and bigotry (Maturin 1824a: 160). For Maturin,
the rubbish of popery however long-forgotten it might be in Jeffreys
Presbyterian Scotland was, in Ireland, all too real. He shares the conviction exemplified in an anonymous Protestant pamphlet of 1819 which
argued that the advocates of Catholic Emancipation have said that in the

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


enlightened period of the nineteenth century, the harsh, uncharitable and

intolerant nature of popery no longer remains but POPERY and the great
body of DOMESTIC and FOREIGN PAPISTS, still remains the same (One
Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Nine; or Shall it be So?, 1819: 2).
Maturin echoes these words in the Five Sermons: in contemporary Ireland,
Roman Catholicism, he declares, is the same in spirit, if not in power
(Maturin, 1824a: 150).

Maturin was born into a family heritage of Francophobia, educated in a
tradition of anti-Catholicism and passionately convinced of the spiritual
health of the Protestantism into which he was born. He was descended (like
his successor in the tradition of Irish Gothic, Joseph Sheridan LeFanu)
from Huguenot migrs who left France in the anti-Protestant persecution
which followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the late seventeenth century. As Desmond Bowen writes, many of the Protestant leaders
of the nineteenth century were of Huguenot extraction [and] these Irish
Huguenots were raised on tales of oppression as recent and as violent as any
remembered by the Catholics from Penal times names like La Touche,
Saurin, Lefroy, Fleury, Maturin and Perrin being easily identifiable (Bowen,
1978: 139). Maturin attended Trinity College, where he found nothing
to make him doubt his familys tradition, and then joined a profession
in which anti-Catholicism, so to speak, came with the job. Indeed, in his
day, as Anthony Trollope noted in 1866, anti-Catholicism permeated the
university like the circumambient breeze:
The Irish beneficed clergyman has almost always been educated at Trinity College,
Dublin, and has there been indoctrinated with those high Protestant principles
with which he has before been inoculated in his cradle, at his fathers table, at
university the same two ideas, cheek by jowl, have ever been present to him the
state ascendancy of his own church, and the numerical superiority of another church
antagonistic to his own. (Cited in Bowen, 1978: 140)



C.R. Maturin never wavered from these convictions, and before addressing
myself to the spiritual symbolism of his novel I will examine the nature of
his objection to Roman Catholicism and draw out the political implications of that position.
In his study Charles Robert Maturin (1980), John B. Harris writes
that it is not the adherents [of Roman Catholicism] but the system he
is attacking (Harris, 1980: 292), and this is evident in the Five Sermons;
Here I must observe, in the strongest language, that I am about to direct
my present address, not against Catholics, but against Catholicism not
against individuals, but against abstract opinions (Maturin, 1824a: 278)
His central charge against Roman Catholicism which for him almost
always boils down to papal hegemony and its attendant political tyranny
is that it is a political and not a spiritual system:
I can prove, moreover, that this system of opposition to the word ofGod was framed
for no spiritual purpose but solely for the purpose of acquiring earthly domination,
wealth and aggrandizement and that such powers were attained and exercised,
even to the deposition of kings, the overthrow of governments, the dissolution of
the allegiance of the subjects, and the subversion of all order, social, civil and moral.
(Maturin, 1824a: 22)

Rather than representing a benign spiritual order, Catholicism, in Maturins

opinion, is actually a political ideology, and one constructed with the sole
purpose of achieving earthly domination. This is a view which is best encapsulated in Maturins writings in the speech which he puts in the mouth of
the villainous Roman Catholic Bishop of Toulouse in The Albigenses, set
amid the French Roman Catholic persecution of the heretical Cathars, who
maintains somewhat melodramatically that the vast system of which
I am no feeble or inert engine hastens to the summation of its working
the conquest of the world (Quoted in Idman, 1923: 297). This assertion is
the direct counterpart of Maturins contention in the Five Sermons of the
same year that the raison dtre of Roman Catholicism is political power.
The Catholic hierarchy are despotic and tyrannous: the Church of Rome,
when established, did assume, maintain and exercise a temporal power
beyond that of the most absolute despot (Maturin, 1824a: 111).

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


As well as Catholic ambitions for earthly domination in general,

Maturin is also much concerned with the political state of Ireland in particular, and with Catholic Emancipation, one of the most controversial
subjects of the late Georgian era in the years which led up to the Act of
Emancipation in 1829. Indeed, I would argue that Melmoth the Wanderer
and the Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic Church are, in
their different ways, contributions to the furious debate over Catholic
Emancipation in the 1820s, during which hundreds of books, sermons,
pamphlets and collections of Parliamentary speeches appeared on the
subject. In his Five Sermons, Maturin places himself directly within this
controversy, in his acerbic rebuttals of some of the more well-known antiProtestant productions, from Thomas Wards Errata of the Protestant Bible
(1688), which had been republished in Dublin from 1807 onwards, to the
Sermons of the Rev. Richard Hayes, published in Dublin in 1822.
For Maturin, agitation for Catholic Emancipation, rather than asserting religious freedom, was actually politically motivated, an attempt to
subvert the allegiance of the [Irish Catholic] subject. He argued that the
basic aim of those who espoused Emancipation was not religious tolerance; it was no more than an attempt to place political power in Ireland in
the hands of Rome and its agents. The Irish Catholic Bishops have more
than toleration in mind, possessed as they are of an officious and interfering spirit, not only with the religion, but the government of the country
(Maturin, 1824a: 64). Emancipation, he suggests, is but a pretext for the
attempt to regain political hegemony in Ireland for the Roman Church.
There was not a nation in Europe where she had not deposed or created a
sovereign he writes (Maturin, 1824a: 150). Rome was exercising her dark
arts once again. (Here again, Maturins arguments reflect the common antipapist rhetoric of his age; someone using the martyrological pseudonym
Ridley Cranmer wrote in 1805 that the object [of Emancipationist agitation] is legislative Dominion and Ecclesiastical Ascendancy in Ireland and
argued that preventing Roman Catholics from becoming enfranchised is
our safeguard against the return of civil and spiritual Tyranny (Ridley
Cranmer, 1805: 60)).
Moving from the priests to the people, Maturin maintains that as long
as the majority of the Irish population acknowledge a higher authority than



the British crown, their loyalty is suspect and that placing political suffrage
in their hands is unwise. Irish Catholicism, in its allegiance to the Pope of
Rome, threatens the union and undermines the authority of the British
King and all he stands for. The state of society, states Maturin, is under
siege from a monstrous anarchy when a man, on rising in the morning,
must wait to hear from Rome of what king he was subject, and whether he
was to take up arms against the sovereign of yesterday (Maturin, 1824a:
113). This is a standard Protestant argument against Emancipation. An
undated pamphlet of the time argues that the Roman Catholics acknowledge the authority of a foreign potentate, but the Protestants acknowledge
no power whatever beyond the precincts of British authority (Candidus,
1819: 7). Maturin puts it in scriptural terms: the successors of St. Peter, he
says, have forgotten his words, Fear God honour the king (Maturin,
1824a: 113). Maturin, indeed, closes one of his addresses with an explicit
statement of his opinion that Papal power undermines the State:
Loyal Roman Catholics, would ye wish that power restored, which might this day
depose your lawful sovereign, place an usurper on his throne, and distract your
conscience and loyalty by the divided claims it had on both? Would you bear
this would you see your kings dethroned your loyalty and your religion alike
at the mercy of a decrepit priest [Pope Pius VII], at 2,000 miles distance from you?
(Maturin, 1824a: 158)

Writing of the Papacy in the Middle Ages, Maturin argues that her power
exceeded all that was ever known by the name of power on earth. The
sway of the most extensive conqueror, the despotism of the most absolute
tyrant, were but bands of straw, he maintains, compared with the chain of
adamant in which she bound the bodies and the souls of men from the
western extremity of Ireland to the confines of Russia (Maturin, 1824a:
150). The Reformation, which Maturin saw as the master event ofEuropean
history, has enabled Great Britain and large parts of northern Europe to
escape this tyranny, but the Roman Catholic Church remains the same:
What is she now? The same the same, cry her adherents; the same in spirit, if not
in power. That she is the same in spirit, I readily acknowledge, and bitterly lament;
but can the most desperate and blinded bigot close his eyes against the obvious and
increasing decline of her power. (Maturin, 1824a: 150).

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


The Pope, in Maturins view, presides over a rotting, though still dangerous
empire, and the Irish people would do well to shed the imperialist yoke
which binds them:
Catholics of Ireland If Rome, in evil hour, presumed to assert her former power
over you, ye would quit yourselves like men, and repel it repel it as ye valued the
property ye have toiled for, the wives ye have wedded, the children ye have begotten,
the land ye love and live in, and above all, the memories ye must leave behind you.
In addressing you thus, I forget the odious names of party distinction If ye are
Irishmen if ye are men if ye have one honest, manly, natural feeling in your hearts,
ye would exclaim, We will not have this man to reign over us. (Maturin, 1824a: 160)

To Maturin, political liberty is inseparable from religious liberty. He envisages a different sort of emancipation from that envisaged by the current
agitation; the liberty of an Irish mind free from the mental despotism of
Rome, which he calls the only true Catholic Emancipation, the emancipation of the intellect and the conscience (Maturin, 1824a: 121). What this
amounts to, in effect, is emancipation from Roman Catholicism:
Roman Catholics of Ireland hear me! Ye call on the rulers of the land for emancipation emancipate yourselves from the yoke that has pressed on your intellect and
your consciences for centuries, a yoke that neither you nor your fathers were able to
bear. Whatever be the civil restraints you complain of, I do not judge, but remember
this, that the restraints ye voluntarily bear are a thousand times more deadly than any
earthly despot could possibly lay on man. The shackles of political restraint when
once broken leave no marks, but the iron of priestcraft entereth into the soul. You
are a high-feeling, a high-fated people. Wherefore art thou not a happy and a free
one? because you do not dare to think Would you be free? Enfranchise yourselves.
Say to your priests we reverence your function, we respect your persons but we
will think for ourselves we will decide for ourselves In your struggle for what
you call political freedom, remember that spiritual freedom is far above it, and that
freedom every man can bestow on himself (Maturin, 1824a: 1235)

In Maturins rhetoric every man should assert his right to self-determination

and personal liberty. A campaign for political liberty is worthless if it is not
accompanied by a concomitant freeing of the conscience. It is pointless
to have political freedom without spiritual freedom, to repeal the Penal
Statutes while the Catholic mind is still imprisoned.



Maturin constantly insists on the impossibility of political freedom

co-existing with spiritual bondage:
Oh! my Roman Catholic brethren, you cannot be so monstrously ignorant, you must
be willfully so not to see the inseparable union between religious and civil liberty
ye cannot deny that in every country where the Protestant religion is established, it
is united with the blessings of a free or mixed government, and that wherever popery
prevails, its inseparable associate is despotism. (Maturin, 1824a: 156)

Britain is free inasmuch as she has embraced the spiritual and political liberty inextricably linked to Protestantism. In his notion of the true Catholic
Emancipation, Maturin again echoes contemporary Protestant opinion;
one anonymous Irish pamphlet of 1821 asks how can [Roman Catholics]
advocate legislative but oppose mental emancipation? (Why the Bible is
not a Dangerous Book, 1821: 4). This is exactly Maturins point; political
liberty is worthless without a concomitant freedom of the mind. Delivery
from what Michael Banim once denominated the overwhelming degradations of the penal statutes (Banim, 1833: 65) should also be accompanied
by delivery from the restricting system of popery. This mental liberty, I
want to argue, is the central theme of Maturins masterpiece, Melmoth the

In July 1834, the Christian Examiner, and Church of Ireland Magazine,
in an article On the Eloquence of the Irish Pulpit, praised the late Rev.
C.R. Maturin, a name of deep and enduring interest, and declared that
his five sermons on the errors of the Roman Catholic Church have been
considered masterpieces (Christian Examiner, 1834: 443). (They attracted,
in the course of their delivery, extraordinary crowds, and derive an additional and melancholy interest from the fact of their being (as I believe)
the last sermons that man of eloquence and genius ever composed). The

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


periodical lamented the fact that Maturin spent so much of his time composing novels and writing for the stage, tactfully noting that It is much to
be regretted that his high gifts were not uniformly laid on the altar of the
Giver, and consecrated exclusively to the advancement of that religion, of
which he was so bright and so able an advocate (Christian Examiner,
1834: 443). This sentiment, however, ignores the fact that Maturins greatest
novel, Melmoth the Wanderer, certainly does advocate the advancement of
that [Protestant] religion which was so close to his heart and spends much
of its time attacking what he saw as that faiths malign rival, the Roman
Catholic Church.
Melmoth the Wanderer is a novel of ideas. The anonymous November
1820 review in Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, which was far more positive than Jeffreys lacerating effort of the following year, declared that
Maturin (one of the most genuine masters of the dark romance) could
make the most practised reader tremble as effectually as Mrs Radcliffe,
and what is better, he can make him think as deeply as Mr Godwin. The
reference to William Godwin (the magnificent imagination that dictated
the tale of Caleb Williams) is suggestive. Melmoth, like Caleb Williams,
is what the Germans call a tendenzroman, and its moral tendency springs
from the religious convictions of its author. Indeed, the tale is prefaced by
the explicit admission that it was suggested by one of his 1819 Sermons:
The hint of this Romance (or Tale) was taken from a passage in one of my Sermons,
which (as it is to be presumed very few have read) I shall here take the liberty to
quote. The passage is this:
At this moment is there one of us present, however we may have departed from
the Lord, disobeyed his will, and disregarded his word is there one of us who
would, at this moment, accept all that man could bestow, or earth afford, to
resign the hope of his salvation? No, there is not one not such a fool on
earth, were the enemy of mankind to traverse it with the offer!
This passage suggested the idea of Melmoth, the Wanderer. (Maturin, 1820: 5)

The High Tory Quarterly Review, in the form of a vituperative notice by

Maturins fellow Irishman John Wilson Croker, took exception to this
notion, sarcastically noticing the amiable modesty of confessing such a



plagiarism the clerical propriety of dilating a text into a novel2 (we

honour Mr Maturins profession even when he debases it, Croker sniffs)
(Croker, 1821: 303). However, it is clear that this novel which springs from
a sermon has much of the sermon about it, and there is also much of the
parabolic at its dark heart.
Melmoth the Wanderer is a huge novel with several different subplots and I will confine myself in the present essay to the Tale of the
Spaniard, Alonzo Monada, a native of Spain [and] a descendant of one of
its noblest houses (Maturin, 1820: 69) who is the sole survivor, apart from
the Wanderer, of a shipwreck on the Irish coast near Melmoths ancestral
home. Monada, it is revealed, has fled Catholic Spain and he recounts
his sufferings in a monastery, his imprisonment in the dungeons of the
Inquisition and his remarkable escape. Though the novel stretches back in
time to the mid-seventeenth century, Monadas experiences are set in the
nineteenth century. That much of Melmoth the Wanderer should be set in
contemporary Ireland and Spain is not surprising. Both countries haunted
Maturins imagination, though the key difference between the countries
in his opinion was that the former, despite its adherence to Catholicism,
at least had the benefit of the Union and the blessings of a free or mixed
government to prevent it sliding into tyranny and oppression. The latter,
on the other hand, had no such good fortune and was a country where the
untrammelled effects of Catholicism were displayed. In the Five Sermons,
Maturin is explicit about this:
But it is not from this country that we are to take our estimate of the state of the
Roman Catholic Church here, under the eye of a more enlightened community,
her laity are reserved and circumspect, and her priests cannot, as in other countries,
play such fantastic tricks before high heaven, as might make angels weep Look
to Spain. (Maturin, 1824a: 154)

Mr Maturin has contrived, by a curiosa infelicitas, to unite in this work all the
worst particularities of the worst modern novels. Compared with it, Lady Morgan
is almost intelligible The Monk, decent The Vampire, amiable and Frankenstein,
natural (Croker, 1820: 303).

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


What Maturin sees when he looks to Spain is not to his taste. The Spaniard
is the born vassal of the deadliest of despots priestly power, and dare
not call his soul his own. To Maturin, Spain is as much in the thrall of
medieval institution as the heroine of a novel by Ann Radcliffe confined
in some Gothic nunnery. The country has a clergy without learning a
nobility without education a population without subsistence a mass of
mendicants without number a country without a national character, save
that of indolence, beggary, sensuality, and superstition (Maturin, 1824a:
154). Such, Maturin contends, are the effects of that religion, where it is
permitted to reign unbounded and uncontrolled (Maturin, 1824a: 154).
In Melmoth the Wanderer some of the same opinions are expressed, as per
Monadas declaration that Education was, and still is, on a very low level in
Spain (Maturin, 1820: 404). But more important is the symbolic position
of Spain in the novel as a Catholic dystopia. In Melmoth Maturin looks
to Spain, offering an implicit warning that a Roman Catholic Ireland, no
longer under the eye or a more enlightened country, would suffer the
same bondage and oppression as Monada experiences in that country.
The novels Spanish scenes, framed by the Irish setting of Wicklow,
represent the dark potentialities which threaten Irish society and which
must not be allowed to develop once again. The fact that the novels settings move from Ireland to Spain and to the Orient and then back to Spain
and thence to Ireland once more is suggestive given the authors knowledge of Irish myth (and the fact that he was author of a novel called The
Milesian Chief. A Romance (1812)). Maturin, it might be argued, evokes
the journey of the Milesians, the legendary conquerors of Ireland according to the medieval Lebor Gabla renn. Spain, for Maturin, represents a
cultural heritage that the Irishman must reject. Ireland cannot return to
the monastic oppression symbolised by that country.
Whatever Francis Jeffrey thought of the matter, for C.R. Maturin
employing the Gothic machinery of convents, wicked priests and the
Spanish Inquisition was not anachronistic, nor a mere slander ofRomanism.
The framing sections of Melmoth the Wanderer are set in the Ireland of
1816, not Walpoles Middle Ages, and Monadas travails are contemporary ones. The description of the Inquisitorial courts is more than what
the Edinburgh Review called a phantasmagoric exhibition. In returning to



the favoured devices of the Gothic novelists, Maturin attempted to give a

voice to the apprehensions of his social and religious group, charging the
Gothic machinery with a powerful contemporary significance once more.
Maturin did not feel that he was raking in the long-forgotten rubbish of Popery for extinct enormities. He saw authoritarian Catholicism
as a direct threat to Irish society and, indeed, to that of Europe in general,
as the higher echelons of the Roman Church had become increasingly
Ultramontanist and insistent upon religious orthodoxy after Pope Pius VII
was released from his Napoleonic captivity in 1814. And perhaps Monadas
experiences at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition have direct contemporary resonance. With the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty under
Ferdinand VII to Spain in 1814 the country returned to an authoritarian
regime. The relatively liberal constitution of 1812 was abolished, the Jesuits
restored and the Inquisition re-established. A large number of Spaniards,
like Monada himself, became refugees from the repressive atmosphere of
the country which eventually provoked the revolt of 1820 led by Rafael
del Riego in favour of the 1812 constitution (a liberal government which
outlawed the Holy Office once again lasted three years before Riego was
executed and authoritarianism and the Inquisition was restored in
1823).3 All Spain, remarks Monada in Melmoth, is but one great monastery, I must be a prisoner every step that I take. In his Five Sermons,
Maturin sees that most direful instrument of popery, the Inquisition as a
living threat, and explicitly warns of the danger of the establishment of the
Inquisition in Ireland. In his novel, it is a living thing, a serpentine presence in modern Europe rather than some defunct nonsense belonging to
an outdated novelistic tradition.
The central metaphors of Melmoth the Wanderer are the Gothic commonplaces of confinement and bondage. Maturin gives them the ideological
gloss which is evident in the Five Sermons notion of the chain of adamant

Maturin blamed the priests for the failure of this government: Look to the feeble
and fruitless struggles in Spain the moment the infant Hercules of freedom was
born, superstition sent her serpents to his cradle to strangle him (Maturin, 1824a:
156). For Maturin and the 1820 Spanish revolt see Marilyn Butler, Romantics, Rebels
and Reactionaries (Butler, 1981: 1612).

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


in which the Roman church bound the bodies and the souls of men. In the
novel also, Catholicism is an imprisonment of the intellect. The convent
and the prison of the Inquisition are objective correlatives of this mental
bondage. Monada, lost in the Inquisitorial dungeon, is equitable with the
Irish Catholic who is bound by the Roman system. The novel uses the same
metaphor of binding as the sermon. His Spaniard is bound with [a] rope
fast as a felon, or a galley-slave (Maturin, 1820: 139) and the rope which
binds him is both literal and ideological.
There is also hope in Melmoth the Wanderer, for in its world view
imprisonment and indoctrination will always be resisted by those, like
Monada, whose character[s] always struggled against dictation (Maturin,
1820: 119), those who are aware of the tantalizing image of escape and
freedom, amid the withering certainty of eternal imprisonment (Maturin,
1820: 170). Monada, it seems to me, is a figuration of the independentlyminded Catholics of Ireland to whom Maturin appeals in his Fourth
Sermon (Emancipate yourselves from the yoke). In his darkest hour,
lost in the subterranean vaults of his monastery, Monada meditates on
freedom and emancipation:
Such appeared emancipation to us, so near, and yet so hopeless. We lay thus, not
daring to speak to each other, for who could speak but of despair, This kind of
fear which we know already felt by others, and which we dread to aggravate by
uttering, even to those who know it, is perhaps the most horrible sensation ever experienced. The very thirst of my body seemed to vanish in this fiery thirst of the soul
for communication, where all communication was unutterable, impossible, hopeless.
(Maturin, 1820: 191)

The emancipation of this particular Catholic and of Catholics in general

is to be achieved by freedom of thought and of language, of release from
the bondage which surrounds them.
In Monadas case the Catholic individual is eventually able to emancipate himself from his heavy yoke and assert his right to self-determination.
The novel, in the end, offers a vision of escape, of the breaking of physical
and, more importantly, of mental bonds. Perhaps the fiery exuberance of
Maturins rhetoric (his strong, though unregulated imagination and unlimited command of language as Jeffrey puts it ( Jeffrey, 1821: 362)), its lack of



restraint, mirrors its own subject matter. The power of his language attacks
oppressive regulation and limits; however antipathetic Jeffrey might be,
he is perceptive on Maturins methods: he transgresses bounds, violates the
laws and has an uncontrolled exuberance. Maturin writes in Melmoth the
Wanderer that When a mind strong by nature, but weakened by fettering
circumstances, is driven to make one strong spring to free itself, it has no
leisure to calculate the weight of its hindrances, or the width of its leap,
it sits with its chains heaped about it, thinking only of the bound that is
to be its liberation (Maturin, 1820: 381). The unrestrained eloquence of
the language in which Maturin details that leap to freedom is consistent
with his endorsement of the freedom of the mind.
And what, finally of the Wanderer himself, and of his penance? He, to
borrow the language of the Five Sermons quoted at the start of this essay,
is unable to tempt the guiltless pauper[s] of the novel to take on his own
punishment. The novels most malevolent character, not the Wanderer but
the parricide monk, rejoices that in religious life this kind of transfer, this
substitutional suffering, is adopted with anavidity indescribable (Maturin,
1820: 221), but he is mistaken. The same murderer laughs at the thought
that I need not repent, I need not believe; if you suffer, I am saved, but,
again, he is wrong. The refusal of Melmoths victims to pay his penance
enacts the rejection of Roman Catholic doctrine. Perhaps the Wanderer
might be equated with the Roman Catholic priest contending for the souls
of the Irish people. In the Five Sermons Maturin describes the Catholic
priest as skilful, insidious and indefatigable the tempter comes to you
strong in wiles (Maturin, 1824a: 1516). The Wanderers temptations are
rejected, an example which, Maturin believed, Irish Catholics would do
well to copy in their dealings with Rome, with the Catholic priesthood
and, indeed, with Roman Catholicism itself.

Charles Robert Maturin, Roman Catholicism and Melmoth the Wanderer


Anon. (1819), One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty-Nine; or Shall it be So?,
J.J. Stockdale, London.
Austen, Jane (2003), Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon, ed. James
Kinsley and John Davie, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Bowen, Desmond (1978), The Protestant Crusade in Ireland, 180070: A Study of
Protestant-Catholic Relations between the Act of Union and Disestablishment,
Gill & Macmillan, Dublin.
Butler, Marilyn (1981), Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries, Oxford University Press,
Candidus (1819), The Danger of Unrestricted Political Power in the Hands of Roman
Catholics, Subversive of the British Constitution in Church and State, Richard
Tivy, London.
[Croker, John Wilson] (1821), Melmoth the Wanderer, Quarterly Review, 24 ( January), 30311.
Harris, John B. (1980), Charles Robert Maturin: The Forgotten Imitator, Arno Press,
New York.
Idman, Niilo (1923), Charles Robert Maturin: His Life and Works, Constable, London.
[ Jeffrey, Francis] (1821), Melmoth the Wanderer, Edinburgh Review, 35 ( July), 35361.
Maturin, Charles Robert (1820), Melmoth the Wanderer, Constable, Edinburgh.
Maturin, Charles Robert (1824a), Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic
Church, William Folds, Dublin.
Maturin, Charles Robert (1824b), The Albigenses. A Romance, 4 vols, Hurst, Robinson
and Co., London.
Morrison, Robert and Baldick, Chris (eds) (1995), Tales of Terror from Blackwoods
Magazine, Oxford Worlds Classics, Oxford.
The OHara Family [Michael Banim in this instance] (1833), The Ghost Hunter and
His Family, Smith, Elder and Co., London.
On the Eloquence of the Irish Pulpit, The Christian Examiner, 3 ( July 1834), 43351.
Ridley Cranmer (1805), Catholic Emancipation Addressed to the Lords and Commons
of the British Parliament, Binns and Robinson, Bath.
Smith, Sydney (1981), Selected Letters, ed. N.C. Smith, Oxford Worlds Classics,
Why the Bible is not a Dangerous Book (1821), W. Walton, Dublin.


Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy

in Stevensons Gothic Fiction

Up the close and doon the stair

Ben the hoose wi Burke and Hare,
Burkes the butcher, Hares the thief,
Knox the boy who buys the beef.
Anonymous skipping rhyme

If, as Stephen Regan has pointed out, we should walk the haunted halls of
Irish Gothic with all the wariness ofJonathan Harker arriving in Transylvania
(cited in Beardow and OMalley-Younger, 2005: 69), then we should tread
the hermeneutical and ideological labyrinth that is, for want of a better term,
Archipelagic Gothic with even more caution; ever-wary ofthe tropes, traps,
traditions and tautologies which can ensnare us. Apparent fundamentals
such as Irishness and Scottishness are riven with ontological and epistemological questions regarding identity and origins which can entrap us in
a navel gazing, essentialist maze; while arguments over nation, narration
and nativism threaten to lead us up what Seamus Deane has described as
a cul-de-sac with a mirror at the end (Deane, in Brady, 1994: 241). To
combine the two in a HibernoCaledonian Celtic periphery runs the risk
of reproducing an evaluative taxonomy grounded in exceptionalism and
based on Celtic cultural cringe: in short to serve up what Paul Muldoon has
described as old whine in new bottles1 from a coalition ofthe conquered.2

<http://www.ricorso.net/rx/az-data/authors/f/Friel_B/comm.htm> accessed 14
January 2011.
On the other hand, according to Craig Beveridge and Ronald Turnbull (1989), The
Eclipse of Scottish Culture: Inferiorism and the Intellectuals, Polygon, Edinburgh: The



Added to this is the notorious indeterminacy of the term Gothic, an

indeterminacy succinctly summarised by Maggie Kilgour in her contention that the genre (or mode or tradition) is a contested castle that is both
attacked and defended for the secret it supposedly conceals in its hermeneutical dungeon (Kilgour, 1995: 10). Nonetheless, the purpose of this chapter
is to argue that despite the pitfalls of a comparative reading of the Gothic
tradition across the water, as it were, it has considerable merits, not least
because some of the key figures and texts have border-crossing aspects, as
the story of Burke and Hare, drawn on in Robert Louis Stevensons short
story The Body Snatcher (1884) attests.
In what follows, I will argue that Stevensons crawler and his later
novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde interrogate the contemporary debates on reverse evolution and phylogenics which came to represent the mal de sicle throughout the nineteenth century, but intensified
as it drew to a close. These cultural anxieties became part of the warp and
weft of fin de sicle Gothic manifesting themselves, as Patrick Brantlinger
observes, in insistent images of the decline and fall or of civilization turning into its opposite express[ing] anxieties about the ease with which
civilization can revert to barbarism or savagery.3 This resulted in part from
a virulent Celtophobia based on notions of Anglo Saxon racial supremacy
which demonised the Celt according to what Vincent Cheng describes
as unchanging, unalterable universal, essentialized stereotypes (Cheng,
1995: 22). These stereotypes according to Luke Gibbons attributed to the
Celtic peoples a Jekyll and Hyde persona based on their depictions as a

concept of inferiorisation, developed by Fanon in his account of the strategies and

effects of external control in the Third World, seems to us to yield valuable insights
and perspectives on the Scottish predicament. Fanon uses the idea to describe those
processes in a relationship of national dependence which lead the native to doubt
the worth and significance of inherited ways of life and embrace the styles and values
of the coloniser. These processes are not to be seen as merely superstructural; it is
through the undermining of the natives self-belief and the disintegration of local
identity that political control is secured (p.5).
Patrick Brantlinger (1988), The Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism
18301914, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, p.229.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


contradictory amalgam of tenderness and terror, sentiment and savagery

human society, in fact, reduced to its most elemental, primitive condition (Gibbons, 2004: 21).
Gibbonss metaphor is apt relating the seemingly paradoxical yoking
together of opposites ascribed to the Celtic temperament to that of the
apogee of the divided self: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.4 The same analogy can
be extended to what Cheng describes as a dynamics of othering used to
create and consolidate an imagined national character (Cheng, 1995: 20)
particularly in a colonial context. In short, in an us and them binarism
they are everything that we are not (Cheng, 1995: 20). For example,
as Benjamin Disraeli thundered in 1836:
They hate our order. They hate our civilization, our enterprising industry, our sustained courage, our decorous liberty, our pure religion. This wild, reckless, indolent,
uncertain and superstitious race have no sympathy with the English character. Their
fair deal of human felicity is an alternation of clannish broils and coarse idolatry. Their
history describes an unbroken circle of bigotry and blood. (Cited Cheng, 1995: 20)

They (the Irish in this instance) are the collective evil doppelgangers,
endowed as Conor Cruise OBrien points out with those traits most
feared or despised in respectable English society (Cited Cheng, 1995: 21).
This Anglo-Saxon supremacism extended to the Highlander who, like the
Irishman veered between the noble savage and the gothic fiend as uncivilised representatives of earlier stages of development (Reid, 2009: 123).
In short like Mr Hyde the Celtic periphery represented an atavistic form

From the bucolic and rustic poems of the Autodidactic tradition, through the mythic
border ballad tradition to the Supernaturalism of Scottish Gothic, the literature of
Scotland shares distinctive themes and exemplify communal traditions which express
communal, regional and national concerns relating to his sense of fractured identity
within a culture in process of being subsumed into a normative British tradition
wherein its status can only ever be seen as irreconcilably split, schismatic and peripheral. This paradigmatic duality and popularised in 1919 by George Gregory Smith
under the term Caledonian Antisyzygy and is later immortalised by the poet Hugh
MacDiarmid to mean the antithesis, ambivalence and ambiguity which results from
straddling opposing ideologies and national identities.



of primordial primitivism, savagery and superstition which threatened to

contaminate the rational, Jekyll-like civilisation of English and Anglicised
culture. It was a short leap to translate this into the machinery of Gothic
which became a framing device used to explore the unspeakable anxieties
of monstrous Celtic bodies turning evolution into entropy by infecting
the Anglo-Saxon body politic. These issues are reasonably commonplace
in fin de sicle Gothic but as I will suggest are made manifestly clear in the
cases of William Burke and William Hare.

The Bodysnatchers
On 25 December 1829, criminal proceeding opened against William Burke
and his drab, Helen McDonald. On the opening day onlookers eager to
glimpse the Irish malefactors, Burke and Hare whom the press would later
describe as cannibal butchers of their own species, besieged the courtroom.5 As William Hare, the vilest of the two monsters (Lonsdale, 1870:
74) took the stand, expectation stood on tiptoe (MacGregor, 1884: 132)
as the assembled crowds waited for ghoulish accounts of:
Something they had often dreamed of, or imagined, or heard recounted around an
evenings fire, like a raw-head-and-bloody-bones story but which they never, in their
sober judgement either feared or believed to be possible. (MacGregor, 1884: 148)

Notably, the press imaginatively dressed the trial in the garish garb of Gothic
and peopled it with the denizens of the horror story. Here in the courtroom was an enacted tale of terror based on the immensely topical notion
of bodysnatching where modern medicine met the macabre with the
added sensationalist appeal of degenerate Irishmen in the lead roles. This
begs the question, was it the Irishness of the body snatchers that inspired
what one might call fear and Lothian in nineteenth-century Edinburgh?

John Bull (London, England), 5 January 1829, p.4; Issue 421. New Readerships.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


This is a moot point, which deserves to be dissected: indeed as Willy Maley

observes, it would be a grave error to overlook it. Furthermore, he suggests
that by avoiding this point we are guilty of hushing up or leaving a false
trail; by definition to burke and hare (Maley, 1994: 62).
To avoid smothering this crucial piece of social history (Maley, 1994:
62) it is worth employing a symptomatic reading of the narratives, both
fictional and factual, surrounding the body snatching causes clbres. Read
thus one can argue that the moral panic surrounding Burke and Hare,
combined with their subsequent Gothic treatment are metaphors for
socially specific fears, prejudices and anxieties such as Hibernophobia and
xenophobic anti-Catholicism circulating in nineteenth-century Scotland
fuelled by stadial6 theories of evolution, scientific racism and discourses
of degeneration.
Before discussing these issues it is worth pausing to ponder what had
brought Burke into the shadows of the gallows and Hare to the glare of the
witness box. I contextualise this with a quote from William Pitt Dundass
Census Returns published in 1871 under the title of The Races of Men in
Scotland. Under the heading of Irish Immigrants and their Effect on the
Native Scots, Dundas fulminates that in 1820: an invasion of the Irish
race began, which slowly increased until it reached enormous dimensions
after 1840, when the railways began to be constructed over the country
(Dundas, 1871: xix). In what can be described as a xenophobic rant he
fumes over the ruinous effects of this alien invasion to the racial integrity
of Scotland and bewails the deterioration of the Scots before informing
his readers that:
The very high proportion of Irish in Scotland has lowered greatly the moral tone of
the lower classes, and greatly increased the necessity for the enforcement of sanitary
and police precautions. (Dundas, 1871: xxxiv)

The theory, most famously hypothesised by Adam Smith that societies progress
through four stages: hunter-gatherer, nomadic pastoralism, feudal agriculture and
commercial civilisation. Celtic peoples were invariably placed in one of the earlier,
uncivilised stages in nineteenth-century racial discourse.



In a register which teeters dangerously close to the paranoid, liberally

smattered with fears of miscegenation taken from nineteenth-century
biological theories of race, Dundas Gothicises the Irish as a menacing alien
race as disease carriers [and] pollutants of the modern city (Gibbons,
2004: 43).
There is no question, as Vincent Cheng points out that the image
of the Irishman as barbarian was a consolidated tradition in England and
Scotland by the nineteenth century (Cheng, 1995: 21). As has already
been noted, this cultural racism extended in Scotland to that pejorative
singular the Highlanders who according to Kenneth McNeil were an
anachronism, a people on the first rung of the ladder of social progress,
sharing affinities with other contemporaneous primitives around the
globe while living adjacent to, and sometimes venturing into, the civil
spaces of the modern nation (McNeil, 2007: 4).
In the course of the nineteenth century the fantastical and fanatical
Celts responded to the call of the industrial revolution, invading to use
Dundass word, urban centres throughout England and Scotland. Once
in the city they were viewed as malign and deadly criminal contagions
agents of destruction, threatening the structure of cosmopolitan society
wreaking havoc with their lawless and indolent ways and debilitating and
destroying the health of the people. Widespread fear of social, physical
and psychic decay and degeneracy, fuelled by crime reporting, pamphlets
and broadsides resulted in moral panics and the inevitable Gothicisation
of the Celt. Against this background Messrs Burke and Hare arrived in
Edinburgh to work as navvies on the Union Canal in 1818. In this moment,
if contemporary accounts are to be believed, the double-headed Hibernian
Hyde had entered the heart of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


The Maniac Man-Monkey

Some seventy years later, on 27 December 1884, Punch featured a cartoon
of a simian creature wearing a placard which read: The Maniac ManMonkey. A New Sensational Christmas Story by B. Bones.7 As Katherine
Linehan argues:
This cartoon may include among its targets The Pall Mall Gazettes method of advertising Stevensons The Body Snatcher on the streets ofLondon shortly before Christmas
1884. Sidney Colvin reports that the tale was publicized by sandwich men carrying
posters so horrific that they were suppressed, if I remember aright by the police.8

If Linehan is correct in her assumption of the link between the image and
Stevensons euhemeristic tale, the caricature is in accord with the recidivist
tendency of Gothic literature which summons, as Dale Peterson suggests:
the power of the past to command a repeat performance (Peterson,
1987: 38). Here, while parodying the ghoulish sensationalism of shilling
shockers the cartoon disinters an image of homo criminalis as a dangerous
anthropoid ape; an image readily deployed by Punch against the Irish as a
consequence of the Fenian uprisings in the 1860s. We can infer from the
somatic indicators that the body-snatching malefactor of the 1884 cartoon is a Celt and a criminal: congenitally depraved, beyond reform and
a serious threat to healthy society. While on the surface this appears to
veer away from the theme of Stevensons The Body Snatcher the notion
that race was a determining force in criminal behaviour is highly pertinent
to the historical demonisation of two of the minor characters therein:
Burke and Hare.


Punch, 87 (27 December 1884), p.305.

Robert Louis Stevenson (2002), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ed.
Katherine Linehan, Norton, New York & London, p.121.



Burke and Hare

Though the stuff of popular Gothic legend, the story of Burke and Hare
bears summarising as a context to Stevensons short story and the arguments
underpinning this chapter. As previously mentioned, both men came to
Scotland from Ireland to work as canal navvies in preference to starvation
at home. By 1820 with the canal work finished both, according to Hugh
Douglas, drifted to Edinburgh (Douglas, 1973: 28) where Burke became
an itinerant hawker of rags and later a cobbler living with his common-law
wife, Nelly McDougal, in Micky Culzeans low lodging house in the West
Port. Hares passage to Edinburgh in comparison was somewhat more
salubrious. By 1827, after the convenient demise of her husband, he had
moved in with Maggie Laird (also known as Lucky Logue) and had become
a landlord of a West Port doss-house used by transients in Tanners Close.
It is worth noting, following Lisa Rosner, that:
The wynds along the Cowgate, Grassmarket, and West Port were referred to as Little
Ireland or Little Dublin. By the end of the 1820s, at least three fourths of the 250
second-hand dealers in Cowgate, St Marys Wynd and the West Port were Irish; so
were most of the porters; and so were many of the hawkers selling all kinds of food,
silver watches, printed handkerchiefs, and cheap linens. Nearly all of the 112 scavengers responsible for keeping the streets clean of filth were Irish9 the lamplighters
were Irish and so were some of the policemen. (Rosner, 2010: 67)

Such a description serves as a testament to the ghettoisation of the Irish

in early nineteenth-century Edinburgh. Forced into over-populated and
unsanitary slums, the Irish were treated for the most part as human detritus scavengers scratching together a living by hawking cheap wares and
cleaning the streets of excrement. In these foetid rookeries for crime fuelled
by threats of miscegenation and miasmatism,10 the Irish became known


Edinburghs Old Town had no drainage system other than an open system of channels.
The Irish were used to remove human and animal excrement from these channels.
The danger of living in unhealthy environments.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


as a vagrant, criminal class and Burke and Hare became key actors in a
felonious milieu.
Inasmuch as he became a householder, Hare thrived in this environment. Burke was less fortunate. After a fire in which they lost all of their
few possessions, Burke and McDougal were invited by Laird, now known
as Maggie Hare, to lodge in a small room which served as a pigsty to the
rear of their squalid tenement. It was here that most of the sixteen killings
admitted to by Burke were undertaken between November 182711 and his
arrest, accompanied by Hare, Logue and McDougal, in November 1828.
Amid a frenzy of public interest Burke was tried, executed and dissected
in January 1829. Hare, who had turned Kings evidence, was freed, as were
McDougal and Logue, and the case became part of lore of Edinburgh
translated countless times in broadsides, ballads and bogey tales, amongst
which Stevensons story stands as exemplary.

Spectres of Ireland?
While it is an exaggeration to suggest that Stevenson was unwaveringly
pro-Irish, he did, as a result of his research into the Highland Clearances
take a radical if temporary political position on Irish Home Rule (Reid,
2006: 124): the effect on my mind of what I have read he argued, has
been to awaken a livelier sympathy for the Irish; although they have never
had remarkable virtues, I fear they have suffered many of the injustices
of the Scottish Highlanders (Reid, 2006: 125). Elsewhere, in his unpublished Confessions of a Unionist he acknowledged that Ireland was a perpetual and crying blot upon the fame of England who had majestically


In his confessions Burke insisted that the first corpse to be dispatched to the
Anatomists, a lodger known as Old Donald, was not murdered but died of natural
causes, in all probability dropsy.



proved her incapacity to rule it.12 Indeed as G.A. Hayes-McCoy argues,

in 1887 Stevenson believed himself to be on the point of intervening in
Irish affairs but thought better of it stating that the cause of Ireland is
not worth supporting.13 Arguably Stevensons eventual opposition to the
Home Rule Bill was motivated by his antipathy to outbreaks of Fenian14
bombings across England and Scotland15 between the 1860s and 1880s,
many of them funded by Jeremiah ODonovan Rossas skirmishing fund.
Stevensons response to this, according to Hayes-McCoy was to answer
the work of the dynamiters with an explosion of his own:
I am in a mad fury about these explosions. Ifthat is the new world! Damn ODonovan
Rossa; damn him behind and before, above, below, and round-about; damn, deracinate and destroy him, root and branch, self and company, world without end. Amen.
I write that for sport, if you like, but I will pray in earnest, O Lord, if you cannot
convert, kindly delete him!16

It seems likely that Stevenson responded to his own call allowing ODonovan
Rossa, thinly disguised as the redoubted Zero to blow himself up with his
own bomb in The Dynamiter17 (1885).


In G.A. Hayes-McCoy (1950), Robert Louis Stevenson and the Irish Question,
Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 39, 13040, 154.
13 In Hayes-McCoy, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Irish Question, 13040.
14 Although it is generally thought that the Fenians were responsible for the bombings across England and Scotland during this period it is fair to say that the Irish
Revolutionary Brotherhood (founded 1858) and Clan na Gael (founded in 1867)
were heavily implicated.
15 Scottish targets included Glasgows Tradeston Gas Works on 20 January 1883 and
the Buchanan Street Station of Caledonian Railways on 15 March of the same year.
16 Robert Louis Stevenson, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. Sidney Colvin,
Vol. 11, p.163.
17 Stevenson also mentions Parnell in the preface to the tale indicating further the Irish
links: Horror, in this case, is due to Mr. Parnell: he sits before posterity silent, Mr.
Forsters appeal echoing down the ages. Horror is due to ourselves, in that we have
so long coquetted with political crime; not seriously weighing, not acutely following
it from cause to consequence; but with a generous, unfounded heat of sentiment,
like the schoolboy with the penny tale, applauding what was specious.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


Such events were guaranteed to elicit a visceral response from Stevensons

audience; alert as they were to Fenian violence and Irish agitation by popular
periodicals such as Punch and, less famously, The Tomahawk. Irish monsters
and Fenian vampires were liberally spread across the pages to represent the
spectres which haunted the English imagination: Rome Rule, republicanism,
anarchism and revolution against the Empire (Cheng, 1995: 32). The Irish
monster therefore became an animus to Englishness: a cipher used to represent a wide constellation of anxieties. These were projected onto the body
ofthe beast which functioned as a scapegoat for the ills of society. Though
primarily a fin de sicle phenomenon, it is evident that a similar scapegoating
technique had occurred some fifty years previously in the journalistic and
literary demonisation and debasement ofthe degenerate Burke and Hare.

Resurrecting Scotland
In Stevensons unfinished Kailyard novel, Weir of Hermiston (1896) he
acknowledges the importance of history as a standard bearer for Scottish
culture and identity:
That is the mark of the Scot of all classes: that he stands in an attitude towards the
past unthinkable to Englishmen, and remembers and cherishes the memories of his
forbears, good or bad; and there burns alive in him a sense of identity with the dead
even to the twentieth generation. (Stevenson, 1911: 71)

In this uncompromising observation Stevenson identifies a Scottish attitude to the past which acknowledges the fraught relation with the dominant Anglo-centric historical narrative. The Scots, as Cairns Craig argues
are historyless because Scotland:
Has been brought into a history whose shape no longer derives from the particularities of its own experience; rather the past of its present is the evolution of English
experience and Scotlands own past becomes the arena of local narrative no longer
teleologically connected to the future. (Craig, 1996: 389)



Thus, for Cairns, Scotland, due to the predominance of England, has been
assimilated into a historical script not of its own making one which
occludes or deracinates the particularities ofScottish experience. In short,
the Scots have been forced into the world of the historyless with its endless
forgetting (Craig, 1996: 50). However, it is precisely because of Scotlands
shattered and fragmented past that the Scots, according to Stevenson,
are able to shape their identity from what David Lloyd describes as fragments of a history still in progress (Lloyd, 1993: 11). Detached from the
teleological imperative of official history the Scots in Stevensons account
can accept and preserve the complex legacy of the past memory and
bring this necessarily partial and imperfect inheritance into a dynamic
relationship with the present.
Discussing the impulse to commemorate, Craig observes that English
graveyards are the focus of historical remembering; the Scottish one is the
denial that there is any history (Craig, 1996: 32). Silenced and suffocated,
the past will re-assert itself, returning inevitably to infect the present according to the logic of the phantom, the revenant and haunting (Punter, 2003:
193) in the familiar Gothic tropes of deferred retribution and inescapable
guilt. This is the ide fixe of the Gothic as a genre and the thematic nucleus
of Stevensons uncanny recollection of Edinburghs ghastly and ghostly
past The Body Snatcher.

Stevensons Demons
As Julia Reid has pointed out, Stevensons feelings about his neo-Gothic
tales were ambivalent: he dubbed them crawlers or bogey tales (Reid,
2009: 74). Amongst these, The Body Snatcher, conceived in Pitlochry in
June 1881, ranked among his least favourite. Such was his discomfort with
the story that he wrote to Sidney Colvin in July 1881 that the tale, being

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


horrid had been laid aside in justifiable disgust.18 Later, in 1884, while revising the text for the Pall Mall Gazette, he again wrote to Colvin informing
him that The Body Snatcher is a thing I long ago condemned as an offence
against good manners.19 In part Stevensons distaste for the story resulted
from his aversion to the commercialisation of literature (Reid, 75).20 This
is a fair assumption Stevenson, a thoroughgoing Tory, is amply recorded
as recoiling from the vulgar world of mass-produced texts written to meet
an insatiable public demand for penny bloods and shilling shockers. I am
pouring forth a penny dreadful; it is dam dreadful21 he confided to Colvin
about The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and reflecting on the
notion of the popularity as a test of literary worth he lamented to Edward
Gosse: there must be something wrong with me or I would not be popular.22
While Stevenson clearly balks at moving from coterie writer to commercial
hack he also echoes a belief, shared by many other Victorian intellectuals
in the baneful effects of such pernicious trash on the moral well-being of
England and the English people. Nonetheless as a contemporary reviewer
of the 1888 stage production of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
observed that a fascination with the dark side is compelling if anachronistic:
The critic may curse the morbid and the horrible but the craving for them is deeply
rooted. Scratch John Bull and you find the ancient Briton who revels in blood,
who loves to dig deep into a murder, and devours the details of a hanging. (Cited
in Smith, 2004: 77)

Notably, the article employs a Gothic register of decay and degeneracy,

suggesting that the anachronistic ancient Briton is a submerged persona

18 Letters ii, p.158.

19 See McCay, iii, p.954.
20 See also Richard Boyle and Patrick Brantlinger (1988), The Education of Edward
Hyde: Stevensons Gothic Gnome and the Mass Readership of Late Victorian
England, in Hirsch, Gordon and Veeder, William (eds), Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde after
One Hundred Years, University of Chicago Press, London, pp.26582.
21 Letter from Stevenson to Colvin, September to October 1885, Letters, 5, p.128.
22 Letter to Goss dated 12 March 1885, quoted in Arata, p.44. The Sedulous Ape:
Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevensons Jekyll and Hyde (2010) 3553: 44.



who lurks below a fragile veneer which allows him to masquerade as the
civilised John Bull. The parallels with Stevensons Jekyll and Hyde are
evident, articulating, as Stephen Arata suggests, late Victorian anxieties
concerning degeneration, atavism and what Cesare Lombroso called criminal man (Arata, 1995: 233). An ape-like parasite with an infantile brain,
Hyde undermines the fitness of his host, Dr Jekyll, contaminating him
from within until, in Robert Mighalls words the morbidity is transferred
from the patient to the doctor (Mighall, 1999: 191). In this, he echoes
the figures of Burke and Hare as an image of degenerate savagery; a vilified
(and in the latter case racial) alter ego deceitfully penetrating the heart of
civilised society and threatening its potency, purity and power.

Milesian Monsters
Despite Stevensons self-professed disgust, The Body Snatcher, after being
hastily retouched23 was published at the request of Charles Morley, editor
of the Pall Mall Gazette for the Christmas Extra edition in 1884. A macabre revenge tale it resurrects local legends and sensational accounts of the
crimes committed in Edinburgh by Burke and Hare between February
and November of 1828. The evidence is scanty as to how much Stevenson
knew about this dark chapter in Edinburghs history though it is evident
that he was acquainted with it. This is unsurprising bearing in mind it had
been the subject of newspaper accounts, novels (some worse than others),24
ghost stories, childrens rhymes and folk tales since the first lurid accounts
of the murders had been circulated in penny chapbooks and broadsides

Roger G. Swearingen (1980), The Prose Writings of Robert Louis Stevenson: A Guide,
Archon Books, Hamden, Conn., p.93.
24 The anonymous Murderers of the Close was issued in February 1829 and was largely
based on Thomas Irelands fifteen-part serial, West Port Murders. Alexander Leightons
The Court of Cacus appeared in 1861.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


in 1829. It is fair to assume that Stevenson was aware of these tales, and
furthermore the way in which both Burke and Hare had become part of
Edinburghs lore and landscape, remarking in Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes:
Greyfriars is a place of many associations. There was one window in a house at the
lower end, now demolished, which was pointed out to me by the grave-digger, as a
spot of legendary interest. Burke the resurrection man, infamous for so many murders
at five shillings a head, used to sit thereat, with pipe and nightcap, to watch burials
going forward to the green. (Stevenson, 1910: 35)

The image is more chillingly picturesque than accurate. Quite why Burke,
who repeatedly denied the crime of resurrectionism, would watch burials
(presumably covetously) at Greyfriars is a matter for conjecture. As to the
remuneration he received for the shots25 he and Hare supplied to the dissecting tables, it was somewhere between 7 and 10 (depending on the
condition of the corpse) rather than the five shillings a head recounted
by Stevenson.
Almost certainly Stevenson had read William Burkes confessions
to the Edinburgh Evening Courant and also extracts from Blackwoods
Noctes Ambrosianae of March 1829 which recounted details of the events
in satirical terms. However, despite the obvious notoriety of the scandalous
felons and Stevensons apparent knowledge of this they are not the central
characters of The Body Snatcher. In fact, with the exception of a brief
mention of the execution of Burke in relation to Mr K they are referred
to apophatically as recalled in the nightmarish recollections of Fettes, the
competent but dour anatomists assistant who relieves the unclean and
desperate interlopers (Stevenson, 1920: 95) whom we assume to be Burke
and Hare of their grisly burdens:
The ghouls had come later than usual, and they seemed more than usually eager
to be gone. Fettes heard their grumbling Irish voices through a dream; and as they
stripped the sack from their sad merchandise he leaned dozing, with his shoulder
propped against the wall. (Stevenson, 1920: 97)


The term Burke and Hare used to describe bodies to Dr Knox. See Norman Adams
(2002), Scottish Bodysnatchers: True Accounts, Goblinshead, Musselburgh, p.vi.



It is worth pausing to note that Burke and Hare were neither the first nor
the only felons to traffic in corpses with the Edinburgh Anatomy Schools
in the early nineteenth century. The immense popularity of these centres of
learning combined with fierce competition amongst medics and legislation
which restricted their use of corpses for anatomical purposes had resulted
in a thriving black market in cadavers. By the 1820s gangs of professional
resurrectionists (as sack-em-up men) vied with the amateur shushy lifters
and Noddies to supply an ever-growing demand. Stiff y-tussles26 took place
regularly in Edinburgh kirkyards as rival gangs battled over their lucrative
commodities: even medical students engaged in body snatching, plundering recently interred graves to produce the freshest specimens for the dissecting table. In short theses ghouls were many and their appearances at
an anatomy labs door a regular occurrence to the historical counterparts
of the fictional Fettes.
In Stevensons tale, though they are not explicitly identified, the accents
of the body snatchers manipulate the readers perception based on their
previous knowledge. Thus, Gestalt-like, we associate body snatching with
Burke and Hare using the marker of their Irishness (as indicated by their
grumbling Irish voices). The hazy figures of the Irish Burke and Hare are
cunning, conspiratorial and clandestine attributes which were shared
with the public perception of Irish secret societies such as the Fenians,
the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Molly Maguires. Stevensons
mysterious murderers, opaque and amorphous as they are, could thus be
viewed as representative of these impenetrable outsiders who had wreaked
murder and mayhem on the streets of England and Scotland in the late
nineteenth century. Thus, it can be argued that Stevenson was exploiting
the curiously Gothic nature of Fenian Fever a fear of the resurrection
of the Irish political undead (cited Gibbons, 2004: 69).


Slang terms for Resurrectionists. See Norman Adams (2002), Scottish Bodysnatchers:
True Accounts, Goblinshead, Musselburgh, p.v.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


Irish Ghouls
Offering as his evidence the lesson learned by the outcry against Dr Robert
Knox, Owen Dudley-Edwards concludes that neither the Edinburgh
mob nor the Edinburgh polite world had any particular desire to shuffle
the horror away from Edinburgh to alien scapegoats (Dudley-Edwards,
1994: 2). Thus, for Dudley-Edwards the Irishness of Burke and Hare was
immaterial to their subsequent damnation. However, contemporary evidence would suggest otherwise. There was a decidedly anti-Irish drift to the
press in the wake of Burkes arrest ranging from the absurd to the openly
Hibernophobic. The Caledonian Mercury, for example damned the Irish
with faint praise by claiming that:
The West Port murder, judging from internal evidence is decidedly of Scotch origin.
There is a cool, methodical, business-like air about it, a scientific tact in the conception, and a practised ease in execution that no Irishman could ever yet attain! The
Irish murder is hasty, sudden, impetuous an English one phlegmatic, cunning,
mercenary, but it has been reserved for the Scotch, in this last unequalled atrocity, to blend the qualities of both English and Irish guilt with a scientific effrontery
peculiarly and pre-eminently their own. (History of Burke and Hare, pp.2489)

Here, in what one can only hope is a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the

situation Burke and Hare are inadvertently exonerated due to their racial
inferiority and inability to carry out murder in the cool, methodical manner
of the Scotch. Elsewhere the word Irish is used repeatedly as an abusive
epithet designed to strike terror and disgust into the heart of the reading
public. This extended to England where aptly named John Bull for example
did its best to induce a moral panic, warning its readership: The perpetrator
of the bloody deeds is an Irishman, professing the Roman Catholic faith,
an alien in Scotland we are fearful that one such should be among us.27
Such sentiments were echoed by Dr Henry Lonsdale in terms that are both


John Bull (London, England), Monday, 5 January 1829; pg. 4; Issue 421. New



paranoid and unequivocally Gothic: Burke and Hare were Irishmen; They
were also Roman Catholics; might they not be agents of the Jesuits? and
Burke and Hare were but carnal weapons of Satan; their concubines the
alluring servants of Romish priests keenly alive to the selection of fitting
instruments for plotting and effecting mischief (Lonsdale, 1870: 76, 77).
As Gibbons has forcefully argued, this animus against Catholicism
[was] inherently bound up with the subjugation of the Celtic periphery
Gaelic Ireland and the Scottish Highlands from the early modern
period (2004: 11), and, to paraphrase Gibbons, in the case of the Celts,
religion had clearly gone to their heads. Citing Dr Isaac Taylor (1889) he
notes that craniological measurements (64) were allied with religious
belief to provide impeccable Unionist pedigrees for the master race
(65). As Taylor observes The doliocephalic Teutonic race is Protestant
the brachycephalic Celto-Slavic race is either Roman Catholic or Greek
Orthodox and the shape of the skull if one of the surest indicators of
race (65).
To risk a pun, Scotlands capital was at the cutting edge of science
during the nineteenth century, and in the vanguard of research for highly
contentious though popular pseudo-sciences such as phrenology and physiognomy.28 As Dr Taylors observations make clear, these implausible and
unprovable observations were often racially motivated and used as cautionary tales against miscegenation. In short, such theories rendered criminality visible in the observable stigmata of race. In Georgian Edinburgh,
as Gibbons suggests The Celts were a source of pollution in the body
politic,29 their priest maddened wolfish spirits at once contagious and

See John Strachan (2006), The mappd out skulls of Scotia: Blackwoods and the
Scottish Phrenological Controversy, in Finkelstein, David (ed.), Print Culture and
the Blackwood Tradition, 18051930, University of Toronto Press, pp.4959.
29 Strachan in Finkelstein, David (ed.) (2006), Print Culture and the Blackwood
Tradition, 18051930, University of Toronto Press, p.41.
30 Strachan in Finkelstein, David (ed.) (2006), Print Culture and the Blackwood
Tradition, 18051930, University of Toronto Press, p.42.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


The wolfishness of the Irish was not, for some comparative physiognomists, confined to their spirits but evident in the appearance and
character traits of what James W. Renfield31 describes as these curs of low
degree.32 He continues:
Compare the Irishman and the dog in respect to barking, snarling, howling, begging,
fawning, flattering, back biting, quarrelling, blustering, scenting, seizing, hanging
on, teasing, rollicking, and whatever traits you may discover in either, and you will
be convinced there is a wonderful resemblance.

Mitigating this vicious canine behaviour are Irish women whom the author
admires as resembling King Charles Spaniels in their long flowing hair,
large sympathetic eyes and biddable natures. This placidity is not however
endemic to the race as he warns that the snappish beslavering Irish man
has a taste for the vinous fermentation which leads to the putrefactive
during which times, he himself is the monster that is to be dreaded33 and
will, cur-like bite the English hand that feeds him: Bloody Irishman is a
name applicable to the Irish in general warns Mr Renfield and Kill is a
word attached to half the places in Ireland Killdare, Killarney, Killkenny,
Kilkerney etc.. However, with the correct (stern) training (as befitting a
dog) he will become a faithful servant, who will say go on master, I will
follow you to the last gasp with truth and loyalty.34 Thus, in accord with
nineteenth-century stereotypes the Irish are depicted as naturally aggressive,


Following Charles Le Brun (16901690). Le Bruns comparative physiognomic

theories date back to a lecture he delivered in 1688. These ideas were subsequently
publicised and published in a 1750 pamphlet with engravings by John Tinney. See
Caracteres des passions, sur le desseins de C. le Brun, A drawing book of the passions,
from the designs of C. le Brun, J. Tinney, London, 1750.
32 James W. Redfield (1852), Comparative Physiognomy: or Resemblances between Men
and Animals, Redfield, New York, p.253.
33 James W. Redfield (1852), Comparative Physiognomy: or Resemblances between Men
and Animals, Redfield, New York, p.277.
34 James W. Redfield (1852), Comparative Physiognomy: or Resemblances between Men
and Animals, Redfield, New York, p.264.



untrustworthy and vicious but capable of servility if harshly handled and

correctly trained.
William Burke, though not from a town with the prefix kill, was a
murderer. However what is truly remarkable about contemporary descriptions of him is the unremarkable nature of his appearance in every aspect
other than its phenotypical Irishness. For example The Caledonian Mercury
of Thursday 25 December 1828 recounts:
The male prisoner as his name indicates is a native of Ireland. He is a man rather
below the middle size and stoutly made and of a determined, though not peculiarly
sinister expression of countenance. The contour of his face as well as his features is
decidedly Milesian. It is round, with high cheekbones, grey eyes, a good deal sunk
in the head, a short snubbish nose and a round chin but altogether of a small cast
he had upon the whole what we call in this country a wauf35 rather than a ferocious
appearance, though there is a hardness about the features, mixed with an expression
in the grey twinkling eyes that is far from inviting.

The editorial, which juxtaposes the ethnocentric rhetoric of phrenology

with that of physiognomy,36 implies that Burkes countenance, though not
overtly ghoulish or villainous, displays hints of an inner, deviant character
which is decidedly Milesian. For decidedly Milesian read decidedly Irish
as an article in Blackwoods of the following year observes:
Unfortunately, the domination of the Celt over Irish character is modified chiefly by
that of the Milesian, whose large and dark eye, high and sharp nose, thin lips and linear
mouth, declares his southern origin more surely than Irish history or Irish fable.37

Notably the appearance of the Milesian reflects sui generis a volatile melanic
temperament, or one given as the article suggests to love of splendour,
want of taste, voluptuousness and licence characteristic of the Southern
European. Unchecked, when combined with the imagination and passion

35 Startling.
36 The notion that facial features are indicative of personality.
37 Characters of the English, Scots and Irish, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, 26:
159 (1829, Nov.), pp.81825 (p.824).

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


of the aboriginal population of Ireland this leads to a people deficient in

reasoning and judgement who, according to the writer:
Must naturally be less distinguished in the discrimination of good and ill, and the
calm and patient discharge of duty, than in the love of friends and the hatred of
foes, or in the devotion, even unto death, to any cause which they may espouse.38

The Milesian Irish are thus distinguished by their irrationality, their fanaticism, and their inability to distinguish between good and evil. Not less
obvious is it he argues:
How utterly worthless and contemptible must seem Irish want of judgement, want
of principle and want of industry; and how well deserved Irish wretchedness though
it is to be feared that the inevitable effect of this contempt is less salutary than for
the sake of Ireland one would wish it to be.39

The term Milesian can thus be seen as a term of abuse indicating the nonrational propensities of the bearer of such racial stigmata as discussed above.
In the Mercurys article however these facial features are specifically associated through phrenological and physiognomic discourse with criminality:
the sunken eyes and the snubbed nose indicate ferocity, vanity and villainy;
his singularly uninviting expression is described as wauf freakish or
startling and yet, in comparison with descriptions of other criminals
of the time what is most surprising is that the source of Burkes evil is
not immediately evident in his face.40 On closer inspection, however, the
graphic pen of the North paints a monster lurking beneath the Irishmans
uncannily normal appearance:

Characters of the English, Scots and Irish, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, 26:
159 (1829, Nov.), pp.81825 (p.824).
39 Characters of the English, Scots and Irish, Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine, 26:
159 (1829, Nov.), pp.81825 (p.821).
40 In this he bears similarities to the fictional Edward Hyde who, according to Andrew
Smith provokes feelings of degeneracy without really manifesting them (Smith,
2004: 39).


Impenitent as a snake, remorseless as a tiger. I studied in his cell his hard, cruel eyes,
his hardened lips which truth never touched nor moved from their cunning compression; his voice rather soft and calm but steeped in hypocrisy and deceit; his collected
and guarded demeanour, full of danger and guile all, all betrayed as he lay in his
shackles, the cool, calculating, callous and unrelenting villain.41

The image produced is bestial and atavistic, stressing Burkes cunning,

hypocrisy and deceit, combined with his observable lack of remorse. This
displays not only his evident culpability but also a capacity for deliberate
and intentional evil. In the absence of clear somatic indicators, Burkes diabolical depravity is defined as part of his essence or soul and becomes more
sinister because it is cunningly concealed by his cold and calculated manner.
However, his inner monstrosity manifests itself in his facial expressions
which mark him irrefutably in the eyes of North as an unrelenting villain.
Conversely, Burkes compatriot and partner-in-crime William Hare
has the observable physiognomic and phrenological attributes which mark
him out immediately as an evolutionary throwback and genetic criminal.
He was as North recalls:
The most brutal man ever subjected to my sight, and at first looked seemingly an
idiot. His dull, dead, blackish eyes, wide apart, one rather higher up than the other;
his large, thick or rather coarse-lipped mouth; his high broad cheekbones and sunken
cheeks, each of which when he laughed, which he did often collapsed into a perpendicular hollow, shooting up ghastlily from chin to cheek bones all steeped in
a sullenness and squalor not born of the jail, but native to the almost deformed face
of the leering miscreant, inspired not fear, for the aspect was scarcely ferocious, but
disgust and abhorrence, so utterly loathsome was the whole look of the reptile.42

Norths observations, though doubtlessly satirical, reflect populist conceptions of physiognomy and phrenology and from these he interprets Hare
as a hereditary delinquent, ugly and degenerate in extremis and biologically
predetermined to be evil. Unlike Burke, Hares repulsive physiognomy
accurately represents his inner evil, yet his apparent idiocy (indicated by
41 Blackwoods Magazine, 1829, Ibid.
42 See Blackwoods Magazine, March 1829, in Roughhead, William (1921), Burke and
Hare, Hodge, Edinburgh, p.14.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


his dead eyes and grotesque grimacing) mitigates his monstrosity and
marks him as the lesser of two evils set against the cold, calculating Burke.
One might speculate that this, along with his turning of kings evidence,
resulted in the former escaping the gallows while the latter was hanged,
gibbeted, anatomised and dissected: taken in death by the profession he
had so nefariously served in life.

Doctors Orders
Given the amount of readily available Gothic tropes and images Stevenson
had to hand it seems astonishing that he chooses to concentrate not on
Burke and Hare but on the curiously occult practices ofthe medical community in early nineteenth-century Edinburgh. In brief, The Body Snatcher
concerns the competent but dour Fettes and murderous dandy Wolfe
MacFarlane, two Edinburgh medical students studying under the tutelage
of the distinguished anatomist Mr K. In the course of the narrative the
two students repeatedly violate sepulchres in order to supply their tutors
dissecting table MacFarlane later resorting to murder when demand
exceeds supply. Fettes the unwilling accomplice in these horrible events is
drawn into a web of evil as he witnesses the disposal and dissection of the
unfortunate Janet Galbraith and the blackmailer Grey, finally acquiescing
to the logic of MacFarlanes hubristic justification for his crimes:
There are two squads of us the lions and the lambs. If youre a lamb youll come to lie
on these tables like Grey or Jane Galbraith; if youre a lion youll live and drive a horse
like me, like K like all the world with any wit and courage. (Stevenson, 1920: 105)

It is manifestly clear that MacFarlane, a metonym for the nineteenth-century medical establishment, embodies traits which have become critical clichs in discussions of Stevensons works: antithesis and duality. Outwardly
respectable and inwardly corrupt MacFarlane recalls and pre-echoes a
number of Stevensons Gothic characters including Deacon Brodie and,



more famously Edward Hyde. Beyond this he represents also the irredeemably split nature of nineteenth-century Edinburgh, a city of two distinct
halves the respectable New Town and the craven Old Town. On the
surface MacFarlane observes the social niceties of the diurnal world of
the former, adhering to its rigorous social conventions and seeming to be
a brilliant and reputable surgeon-in-training. However his success in the
New Town is only made possible by his nocturnal excursions to the warren-like wynds of the Old wherein he preys upon the poor and defiles the
sanctity of the grave making a living out of the dead. This is made manifest
in his final act of grave-robbing which takes place not in the cemeteries of
Edinburgh but in the rustic neighbourhood of Glencorse a few miles south
(Stevenson, 1920: 107) of the Scottish metropolis. This movement from
city to country allows Stevenson to dramatise what Julia Reid describes as
the conflict between enlightenment and an ineradicable supernaturalism
(Reid, 2009: 119). Edinburgh and Glencorse are poles on a temporal axis
of progress the latter representing the older verities and primitive beliefs
repudiated by the Enlightened civilisation for which MacFarlane pars pro
toto stands as a representative of the apparently inexorable progress of
science and medicine which both fascinated and repelled British society
in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Standing in the vanguard
of debates about body and spirit he challenges orthodoxies and threatens
religious dogma. In this he is the archetypal anatomist recast as the dark
side of the Enlightenment: a narcissistic monster dabbling in forbidden
knowledge and hell-bent on self-advancement.
However, in the pastoral setting of Glencorse folk belief clashes with
modern science leaving the latter confounded by the tangible reality of
the metamorphosed corpse. MacFarlane is damned because he cannot
acknowledge that which exists outside of his own temporal and scientific
frame of reference. Fettes is damned because he adopts the belief of the miscreant medic MacFarlane, a Jekyll and Hyde personality who combine[s]
behaviour of astonishing ferocity with a capacity for rational thought and
skill (Walkowitz, 1992: 211).

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


Stevensons The Body Snatcher is Scottish in context and setting but more
than this it resonates with a sense that the primitive past, despite being
entombed can never truly be expelled but haunts the here-and-now with
its ghostly presence. As Alan Bissett makes clear:
Gothic has always acted as a way of re-examining the past, and the past is the place
where Scotland, a country obsessed with re-examining itself, can view itself whole,
vibrant, mythic. When myth becomes channelled through the splintered prism of
the present, however what emerges can only be something distorted and halfway
monstrous. And while the Gothic has often been the conduit for collective fantasies
and nightmares, there is something/someone/somebody that haunts the fringes of
the Scottish imagination perhaps the whisper of history, pain, feudalism, legend,
all or none of these things, but undoubtedly Scotlands is a fiction haunted by itself,
one in a perpetual state of Gothicism. (Bissett, 2001: 6)

In short, when history is suppressed it is unleashed like the monstrously

atavistic figures of Edward Hyde or Burke and Hare to halt the seemingly
unstoppable narratives of progress and rationality.
For Stevenson Scottish history is not so deeply buried that it cannot
be resurrected in the form of memory, in the sense of a lieu de memoire
that can claim continuity from the past and transmit it into the future.
This offers a means by which history can be remembered and rewritten in
a way that disrupts its linear flow and resurrects the silenced corpses in the
graveyard of the past, giving them the opportunity to relay their ghostly
testimonies. In exhuming buried histories, it is Stevenson who is the resurrectionist and the Celtic proletariat, amongst them the racially degenerate
Messrs Burke and Hare, the re-animated revenants stalking the shadowy
side of Scotlands Enlightenment.



Arata, Stephen D. (1995), The Sedulous Ape: Atavism, Professionalism, and Stevensons Jekyll and Hyde, Criticism: a Quarterly Journal for Literature and the Arts
3 7, 23359.
Bissett, Alan (2001), Damage Land: New Scottish Gothic Fiction, Polygon, Edinburgh.
Brantlinger, Patrick (1988), The Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism
18301914, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
Cheng, V. (1995), Joyce, Race and Empire, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Craig, Cairns (1996), Out of History: Narrative Paradigms in Scottish and British
Culture, Polygon, Edinburgh.
Deane, S. (1994), Wherever Green is Read in Brady, C. (ed.), Interpreting Irish History: The Debate on Historical Revisionism, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 23445.
Dudley Edwards, Owen (1980), Burke and Hare, Polygon, Edinburgh.
Gibbons, Luke (2004), Gaelic Gothic, Race, Colonization, and Irish Culture, Arlen
House, Galway.
Hayes-McCoy, G.A. (1950), Robert Louis Stevenson and the Irish Question, Studies:
An Irish Quarterly Review, 39, 13040, 154.
Kilgour, Maggie (1995), The Rise of the Gothic Novel, Routledge, London.
Lloyd, David (1993), Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Postcolonial Moment,
Duke University Press, Durham.
Lonsdale, H. (1870), A Sketch of the Life and Writings of Robert Knox, The Anatomist,
Macmillan & Co, London.
MacGregor, G. (1884), The History of Burke and Hare, and of The Resurrectionist Times:
A Fragment from the Criminal Annals of Scotland, T.D. Morison, Glasgow.
Maley, W. (1994), Review of Owen Dudley Edwards Burke and Hare, History
Ireland, 2, 2, p.62.
McNeil, Kenneth (2007), Scotland, Britain and Empire: Writing the Highlands,
17601860, Ohio State University Press, Columbus.
Mighall, Robert (1999), A Geography of Victorian Gothic Fiction: Mapping Historys
Nightmares, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Miller, Nicholas Andrew (2002), Modernism, Ireland and the Erotics of Memory,
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Peterson, Dale (1987), Russian Gothic: The Deathless Paradoxes of Bunins Dry
Valley, Slavic and East European Journal, 1.31, pp.3649.
Punter, David (1998), Gothic Pathologies, The Text, the Body and the Law, St Martins
Press, New York.

Doctors and Devils: Diagnosing Racial Degeneracy


Punter, David (2002), Scottish and Irish Gothic in Hogle, Jerrold E. (ed.), Scottish
and Irish Gothic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp.10523.
Punter, David (2003), Postcolonial Imaginings: Fictions of a New World Order, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
Punter, David and Byron, Glennis (2004), The Gothic, Blackwell, Oxford.
Redfield, James W. (1852), Comparative Physiognomy: or Resemblances between Men
and Animals, Redfield, New York.
Regan, S. (2005), Irish Gothic in Beardow, F. and OMalley-Younger, A. (eds), Representing Ireland: Past, Present and Future, University of Sunderland Press,
Sunderland, pp.6977.
Roughhead, W. (1921), Burke and Hare, Hodge, Edinburgh.
Smith, Andrew (2004), Victorian Demons: Medicine, Masculinity and the Gothic at
the Fin de Sicle, Manchester University Press, Manchester.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1910), Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes, Seeley, London.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1911), The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. Sidney
Colvin, Vol. 11, Scribner & Sons, New York.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1911), The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. Sidney
Colvin, Vol. 5, Scribner & Sons, New York.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1911), Weir of Hermiston, in Weir of Hermiston and Other
Stories, Scribner & Sons, New York, pp.1181.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1920), The Body Snatcher, in Tales and Fantasies, Chatto
& Windus, London, pp.87114.
Stevenson, Robert Louis (2002), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, ed.
Katherine Linehan, Norton, New York & London.
Swearingen, Roger G. (1980), The Prose Writings of Robert Louis Stevenson: A Guide,
Archon Books, Hamden, Conn..
Stone, T. (1829), Observations on the Phrenological Development of Burke, Hare and
other Atrocious Murderers, Robert Buchanan, Edinburgh.
Strachan, John (2006), The mappd out skulls of Scotia: Blackwoods and the Scottish Phrenological Controversy, in Finkelstein, David (ed.), Print Culture and
the Blackwood Tradition, 18051930, University of Toronto Press, pp.4959.
Walkowitz. Judith R. (1992), City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger
in Late Victorian London, Virago, London.


Second Cities of Empire:

Celtic Consumerism Exhibited

Indulging in panoramic views provided from the camera obscura of his

Outlook Tower, Patrick Geddes famously conceived of a macrocosmic
outlook on Edinburghs regional planning:
How can anyone understand this world, not to mention improve it, if he cannot
even see it accurately to start with? We must re-educate our eyes so that we can first
of all be in more effective visual contact with external reality [] every inhabitant
from child to patriarch should strive to know what his region contains, not only its
wealth of natural resources, scenic beauty, and heritage of culture but the opposite
picture as well. (Boardman, 1944: 17784)

Less familiar is the fact that he also waxed sociological in a microcosmic

observation made about the 1886 Edinburgh Industrial Exhibition of which
he remarked there can be no better standpoint for an intelligent survey
of modern progress than that afforded by an international exhibition
(Geddes, 1887: 1). Flanked on all sides by model villages, marquees and
artificially constructed halls of a sometimes colonial, occasionally imperial
and very often architecturally temporary and crude inclination, the layout
of industrial, international and civic exhibitions in Glasgow and Edinburgh
by the end of the nineteenth century seemed to be somewhat of a contrast
with Geddes maxims of what town planners now brand regional survey.
Indeed, by the arrival of the 1911 Scottish Exhibition, Geddes promises of
progressive inspection and subtle sociological introspection appeared more
contradictory still. With Scottish exhibitions of this period becoming fast
accustomed to exhibiting their locus as a Second City of Empire, boasting
immense displays of industrial prowess and engendering nationalism, there



is an interesting and unexamined juncture arrived at here in contrasting

Geddes viewpoints on the micro and the macro.
Building upon this contradictory notion of space, in this chapter it
will be argued that it was consumerism of a Celtic not an international
inclination that utilised the vagaries of Scottish and Irish exhibitions from
1853 to 1911 as a vehicle to stimulate economic and civic advancement in
both countries. A particular focus will be placed upon Scottish and Irish
expositions from 1853 to 1911 in order that the Celtic inclination of these
spatial representations be made distinct from notions of modernity and
spectacle noted at the turn of the century by Georg Simmel and Charles
Baudelaire concerning continental European international exhibitions.
Interestingly, Geddes contemporaries were even less complimentary
about the sociological merits of exhibitions. The Saturday Review dubbed
the 1886 exhibition as indistinct from other organised hypocrisies of the
same ilk which, without advertisement, the sole reason of being of such
places (Geddes, 1887: 13) would come to be regarded as culturally inert
and without civilising effects. Whilst it is a testament to advertising prowess, this statement suggests that individual attendees yearnings for self
improvement, by then a Victorian soundbite, prevailed over any wider
establishment of a sense of civic identity in tune with consumer culture
in Victorian Edinburgh. It is no secret that both Dublin and Edinburgh
bore witness to flourishing arts and crafts industries between the late 1880s
and 1900s. Such increased artistic productivity, combined with increasing
literary output made these enterprises part and parcel of the Celtic Revival
period which has been long labelled a project of cultural nationalism and
imperial aloofness. That said, fifty years prior to the Revival, British journalistic accounts of Dublins exhibition were decidedly sceptical of the
exhibition being in national interests. The Illustrated London Magazine
would inveigh against Dublins 1853 exhibition, painting it as a wasteful
enterprise, contingent upon baffling polarities and illusions of guile:
A strange subject for contemplation [] a gigantic anomaly in a land long celebrated
for its paradoxes [] within hearing distance ofthe hammers of the Great Exposition
of Industry, there was not a single soul in all that vast assembly which entertained a
hope of being able to live by labour in his native land! (Harnett, 1853: 43)

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


To add to cynicism over the cultural and consumerist viability of exhibitions, there is a perspective offered in the scant comparative contemporary
reflections on Victorian Scottish and Irish exhibitions which considered
these organised hypocrisies feeble attempts to trump the Crystal Palace
Exhibition of 1851s legacy, if not each other. Stephanie Rains recent study
Commodity Culture and Social Class in Dublin 18501916 (2008) deftly
agues that following on from the 1853 Exhibition, Dublins emergent urban
middle classes were poised to become prime movers of consumer development throughout the city. By physically and economically donning the
accoutrements of commodity and materialist progress in a city unhindered
by the legacy ofthe Crystal Palace Exhibition, Dublins urban middle classes
attending the 1853 exhibition enabled its primary influence to be interpreted in terms of patterns of consumption as opposed to self-conscious
attempt[s] to stage Irelands supposed recovery from the devastation of
the Famine (Rains, 2008: 489).
Part of the denigration of late nineteenth-century exhibitions as valid
sources for socio-economic and socio-historical study in the academy could
well emanate from the side-lining of Victorian Scottish and Irish advertising history and consumer studies as uncomfortably unexplored aspects.
Advertising and consumer culture are too frequently nudged under the
umbrellas of cultural studies or heritage studies without being credited for their distinct Irish or Scottish socio-historical value. In terms of
exhibitions occurring in Scotland and Ireland from the 1850s until respective Scottish and Irish Gaelic Revival periods at the turn of the century,
archives in Glasgow, Belfast, Edinburgh and Dublin are replete with exhibition catalogues, advertising, photo albums, entry tickets and other valuable ephemera.1 Given that there is no drought of material to make Celtic
connections, what then binds Scottish and Irish exhibitions with sociohistorical study, Victorian consumerist enterprise and Geddes seemingly
illusory sense of modern civic development? What makes cultural analyses

Including the collections of the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh Central

Library, Mitchell Library Glasgow, Special Collections at the University of Glasgow,
the National Library of Ireland and the Linen Hall Library, Belfast.



of Victorian exhibitions worthy of consideration in the context of evolving

Celtic identities? Further, must exhibitions in Scotland and Ireland from
the Victorian period be considered esteemed testaments to empire to risk
trespassing on the territory of revered socio-historical and critical studies?
Although Queen Victoria patronised exhibitions in the Second Cities
of empire, a number of factors would suggest that there is an advantage in
exhibiting cultural nationalism in terms of its consumerist edge. Moreover,
the study of consumerism and commodity culture acts enables a stronger
understanding of Scottish and Irish politically nationalist aspirations. These
factors include Irelands complex colonial status throughout the nineteenth
and early twentieth century; Irelands lack of industrial development when
compared with Scotlands immense industrial powers and Scotlands first
Home Rule Party, conveniently established under Gladstone in the 1880s
when Irelands Home Rule bills were being discussed in Westminster.2 If
the comparisons and similarities between isolated nationalist developments in Ireland and Scotland are worthy of contemplation, then so too
ought to be the countries respective tackling of national consumer culture and economic development as exhibited in major expositions. Celtic
consumerism was, I will argue, covertly challenged and at times blatantly
encouraged in Scottish and Irish exhibitions ostensibly promoting other
identities namely international, industrial, artistic and civic from 1853
to 1911. A discussion of the origins of mobilised mass consumerism dating
from 1853 will provide some background as to the identities on offer at
local fairs in Ireland in the wake of the 1853 exhibition. As Patrick Geddes
maintained in the 1890s, moving from micro to macro circumspection of
urban and greater national development bodes well for sociological and
socio-historic survey. Apparently, town planners and economic specialists have shied away from venturing to make similar cultural conclusions
about the consumerism evidenced in chronological accounts of Ireland and

The link between an 1886 split in the Liberal Party over Irish Home Rule and the
establishment of Scotlands Home Rule Party is examined in more detail in Addison,
R. (2002), Corporate Images, 1886: Advertising at the International Exhibition of
Industry, Science and Art, in Addison, R., Beavan, I., Holmes, H., and Thomson,
E. (eds), Images and Advertising, Merchiston Publishing, Edinburgh, pp.2346.

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


Scotlands major exhibitions. This is an especially curious omission to make

in studies of what was a monumental era of exhibiting progress in Great
Britain making the exhibition, as we know it, a fundamental constituent
of Western cultural history.

Celtic Consumerism in Second Cities of Empire?

Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow and Edinburgh were referred to as Second
cities and Second cities of empire throughout the nineteenth century
by dint of their respective advancements in industry and in particular,
their bustling ports which allowed for the transportation and trade of
peoples and goods in the British Empire. Although Glasgow is nominally
conceded to be Victorian Britains designated Second City of Empire
according to Glasgow City Councils historical accounts, studies including
J.M. MacKenzies The Second City of the Empire: Glasgow Imperial
Municipality (1999) and the citys very hosting of the Empire Exhibition
of 1938, it is also true that Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast were each considered secondary cities. From the mid-seventeenth century, Belfasts booming commercial linen industry and its involvement in transatlantic trade
following the development of Belfasts harbour in the 1830s enabled it
to be considered the First Town in Ireland for Trade, with the value of
exports, mainly linen an provisions, exceeding imports by some 900,000
a year (Sweetnam, 1988: 61). Together with shipbuilding and engineering,
Belfasts industrial involvement in empire matters from the Victorian to
the early Edwardian period extended to the printing, chromolithography
and bookbinding enterprise of Marcus Ward and Co. who would disseminate childrens books of a trenchant British orientation.3 Furthermore, the

These include; Crane, T. and Houghton, E. (1883), At Home Again, Marcus Ward
and Co. Ltd, Belfast and Crane, T. and Houghton, E. (1883), London Town, Marcus
Ward and Co. Ltd, Belfast.



production of Cantrell and Cochranes mineral waters and soft drinks

were said to be popular in the British colonies from the 1880s until after
the turn of the century. Moreover, the establishment of the Belfast Empire
Theatre of Varieties in 1894 offered greater expansion to the Star Theatre
of Varieties which was already a great success in Dublin.
Although Edinburgh staged an industrial exhibition in 1886, its industrial growth was secondary to that of Glasgows rapid expansion in the late
nineteenth century and in terms of displaying objects of industry and/or
empire at exhibitions, Edinburgh offered little contest. What did develop
in the 1880s in Edinburgh was a move towards municipal enterprise in
hand with the development of Celtic revival arts and crafts industries as
staged at the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886 and aided by
Patrick Geddes and Lady Aberdeens (the wife of the Scottish Viceroy to
Ireland) support of exhibiting Celtic cultures through art schools, associations and exhibitions.
Whilst Dublin and Glasgow in particular were secondary to London
in engaging in the expansion and growth of the British Empire by involvements in the East India Company and the triangular trade up until the
1850s, their tacit implication in a project of imperial colonisation through
means of trade and slavery cannot be denied. The term Second cities
of empire will be applied here as the most appropriate terminology to
introduce Celtic consumerism as an emergent trend which traced the process of internal colonialism that came to animate Ireland and Scotlands
major cities at the same time as the agendas of the British Raj and opium
wars. Irish and Scottish populations in the middle of the nineteenth century were highly cosmopolitan and demographically heterogeneous following the events of the Irish famine. At the time of the famine, it was
recorded that more than 7,000 Irish emigrants were arriving in Glasgow
on a weekly basis and by the 1860s over half of the population were not
native to the city. As J.M. Mackenzie shrewdly notes, immigration led
to a strain of municipal socialism in Glasgow which has been read by
historians as a resistance to the vice of imperialism in the citys attempts
to self-image:

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


This combination of growth and grandeur with poverty and social degradation created an imperial self-image which combined healthy pride and strength with social
weakness, if not terminal illness [] The politics of imperial identity and power are
thus reconfigured in an adjacent space. Analyses of Glasgows class differentiation
similarly need to adopt the spatial, social and cultural perspectives of internal colonialism. (Mackenzie, 1999: 21820)

Mackenzies interpretation of the polarities of wealth and impoverishment

upon which imperial entrenchment would rest for late nineteenth-century
Glasgow also applies to the interactions Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast
had with Celtic consumerism as a means to medicate the seeming social
ills of internal colonialism. This is not merely a matter for postcolonialists but for examiners of internal and external cultural, national, social and
above all consumerist binaries. The growth of the Cuala and Belfast Linen
Industries, the founding of the Irish national theatre and launch of D.P.
Morans The Leader in 1900 occurred within a twenty year period where,
over the Irish Sea, home-grown Scottish artistic and industrial outputs were
thriving in Edinburgh and Glasgow. One need only think of the Glasgow
School of Arts formation and the success of the Glasgow Boys as part and
parcel of a self-imaging artistic impetus which rejected dominant British
gothic styles. Moreover, events which led to the founding of Glasgows
Peoples Palace and Edinburghs Social Union and the Edinburgh Arts and
Crafts club made for the culmination of an expressive nationalism which
was subtly dissenting but acutely linked to a flourishing Celtic-aligned
(not maligned) consumer culture. Elizabeth Cumming is unhesitant in
her response to the arts and crafts culture in Edinburgh and Glasgow in
the fin de sicle period which she maintains amounted to:
[A]n intellectual imperative [and] the integration of a wide social commitment to
art with a deepening sense of place [which] gave early Scottish Arts and Crafts design
its power and identity and began to establish networks of activists. (Cumming,
1988: 245)

Considering the development of spatial planning under Patrick Geddes and

the poised and ready artistic networks of activists in both Scotland and
Ireland come the early 1900s, exhibitions in the Second cities of empire were



to be a centrifugal force in expanding and publicising national consumer

culture and the economy. This is not to say that major industrial, international and artistic exhibitions of these cities were anti-imperial, rather that
the national understanding of consumption had broadened to implicate
collective agency as well as the many individual merits of solitary makers,
users, movers and shakers, utilising goods and services. From a tangential
position in Dublins Industrial Exhibition of 1853, Celtic consumerism
became a tangible concept and acceptable marketing practice by the end of
the century. Raymond Williams observed that the meaning of consumer
altered radically in the nineteenth century. Williams definition is fundamental to any understanding as to the vacillation of national space, place,
identity and the marketing of it in Victorian Ireland and Scotland for it
indicates that the concept was subject to changeable semantic boundaries
associated with the broaching of private and public borders: unfavorable
connotations of consume persisted, at least until C19, and it was really only
in mC20 that the word passed from specialized use in political economy
to general and popular use (Williams, 1988: 789).

Carleton and Classic Ephemera:

Broadcasting Consumerism in Ireland before 1853
At an early stage in his seminal work Transformations in Irish Culture, Luke
Gibbons pinpoints the awkward interplay between recorded historical narratives and cultural studies in the Irish sphere throughout the nineteenth
century. The negations, myth conceptions and allegories which constrict
expressions of popular Irish identity and threaten the autonomy of art
by constricting imagination, Gibbons argues:
[G]loss over the multiple ways in which cultural practices intervene in the unfolding
of events [and] do less than justice to the diversity and complexity of human behaviour. It is not just that such investigations are incomplete; rather, they are distorted
without due provision being made for cultural factors. (Gibbons, 1996: 18)

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


Whilst provision has been made for the academic study of universal and
international exhibitions in terms of colonial enterprise, imperialism and
modernity in Europe, in a Celtic context, the cultural factors pertaining to how these expositions impacted upon consumer culture have been
neglected in place of a less diverse and less complex sphere which engenders
cultural sets of dogma of greater respectability. In a manner which is both
intelligent and modest, A. Jamie Saris footnotes successful recent studies on the subject of Victorian fairs by dint of their attribution to more
respectable academic systems of redress; namely, political authority, economic power and symbolic legitimacy (Saris, 2000: 67). To complement
Saris and Gibbons statements, it might be suggested here that an inchoate
consumer presence at fairs and exhibitions in Scotland and Ireland in the
middle of the nineteenth century can be not only observed in exhibition
catalogues, advertising and guidebooks but in popular literature too. As
such, a receptive cultural consciousness of Celtic consumerism can be
revealed to compliment political, economic and symbolic legitimacies.
In this sense, consumer culture was an implicit part of Irish and Scottish
exhibitions and one need not call upon the externality and abstractions
of political, economic and symbolic legitimacies to justify an exclusively
materialist or indeed, cultural approach.
Where and how might detection of Celtic consumerism begin? 1853
is a moveable but legitimate marker being the year of the Dublin Industrial
Exhibition.4 It is ironic that some of the most attentive commentaries on
Irelands fairs and 1853 Exhibition appeared not in the national press but
in Londons leading periodicals such as the Illustrated London News and
The Illustrated London Magazine (ILM), between July and September
of that year. Commentaries within these periodicals tracked the duration of the Dublin Exhibition as it ran from May until October that year

Earlier examples of exhibitions and consumer culture were undoubtedly present in

Ireland and Scotland but are out with the remit of this study. One need only think
of the work of travelling philanthropists, antiquarians, the consul generals awareness of commerce and trade, land ownership patterns, philanthropists investments
and the work of collectors of all kinds to note the array of material which cultural
theorists and historians might feast upon.



but often without making exclusive reference to its consumerist viability.

As evidenced by Harnetts scornful caveat mentioned above, a number
of British journalists sought to critique the expense of the 1853 buildings construction and predicted the social ruptures which would follow
such diversionary investment from rural Ireland. This is markedly at odds
with Geddes socially complimentary perceptions about the Edinburgh
Industrial Exhibition in 1886. Further on in Harnetts account, stark claims
are made that building development is heedlessly taking place in the middle
of a city whose ports were teeming with emigrants. In an account which
relates emigration with a dialogic configuration reminiscent of the departure of Frank in Joyces Eveline, Harnett adopts a grave journalese to paint
a family of respectable class waving goodbye to Ireland from an Atlanticbound steamer each bearing, a sod, a pot of shamrock, or a little earth,
labelled to be put in my coffin if I die abroad (Harnett, 1853: 44). Not
surprisingly, as Stephanie Rains has astutely noted, the contents of the
on-site published official Exhibition circular, The Exhibition Expositor and
Advertiser depicted events far more favourably and included advertisements
promoting the wares of local businesses and exhibitors. Like Geddes, these
publications prophesised the social enrichment such an exhibition would
bring to Dublin in 1853.
Nonetheless, it is to the Fair of Emyvale by William Carleton which
one must turn to find incipient commentary and warnings of inchoate
consumer presence at Irish fairs. This tale appeared in the ILM from July to
September 1853, coinciding with Harnetts and other journalists reportage
of the Industrial Exhibition. The Fair of Emyvale is based around sectarian faction fights and other events occurring in and around a genuine fair
held in County Monaghan which ran from the late eighteenth century
until the famine period. The tale was omitted from Traits and Stories of
the Irish Peasantry (1830) and appears to have only been serialised in 1853
and published some forty years later alongside Carletons The Master and
Scholar. The plot involves a group of Ribbonmen who attempt to kidnap
a local beauty named Mary Goodwin after the main assailant, Shawn Dhu
(Black John), becomes instantly enamoured with her after visiting Emyvale.
Molly, much akin to an exotic exhibition piece, is the focus of attention
in Emyvales inherently masculine trading space where, it is remarked,

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


[t]he whole fair was afther her (Carleton, 1853: 56). With the abduction
bungled and after an amusing intervention by a local drunken henpecked
husband Pat Rattigan, the story concludes with Marys father selling the
tenant rights of his farm in order that his daughter can afford to marry
James Murray. In a final reflection, newlyweds James and Molly are said
to board a boat bound for America in Dublin and Carleton masterfully
alerts ILM readers to three of the major social concerns of the post-famine
period: sectarianism, emigration and the survival of the Irish peasantry.
Disturbingly, as Seamus McCluskey observes, the story was probably based on real events as the names of several goodies in the narrative were real characters and some of their descendants still reside in the
area (McCluskey, 2006: 112). Given the enduring legacy of Donnybrook,
the fact that the fair of Emyvale was the site of numerous riots throughout the early nineteenth century makes Carletons rendering of events far
more politically stirring than the maligned transactions enacted in other
nineteenth-century literary fairs and markets. Hardys furmity tent in
Casterbridge and Joyces description of the Dublin cattle-market for example, are notably devoid of riots, Whiteboys, Orangemen, Ribbonmen,
abductions and lynch mobs. That said, reading an absolute and modern
conception of consumer culture into Carletons literary descriptions of
the markets and fairs of the eighteen-teens might make for a significant
leap in conjecture and an historicisation as fleeting as the temporality
of the exhibitions which illustrated nineteenth-century Dublin, Belfast,
Edinburgh and Glasgow. Carleton though, having experienced the fair of
Emyvale first-hand, performs an historical enactment of proceedings without speculation as to encroaching modernism or consumerism and with
no flippancy as to the fairs transient nature. The authors keen awareness
of the monetary inclinations of local fairs is evidenced in the arcane agricultural business acumen of the narration which stipulates that it is not
until the business of the day has been transacted that either the party or the
faction fights take place and later ventriloquises the peasants discontent
of landlords [who] refused to adjust their rents to the reduced marketable
value of all farm produce (Carleton, 1853: 1720). There are vivid descriptions of traders tirelessly toiling at the fair and later, the drunken revelry
enjoyed at the close of business. Even as she wanders through the fair, the



number of times Molly Goodwin is referred to as an object or an unconscious object in the narrative and her elevation to a purchasable entity is
worthy of significant feminist critical clout. Yet, in terms of encroaching
Victorian consumerism as it relates to cultural studies, in 1853, Carletons
story provides an ambiguous insight into the benefits that any exhibiting
of industry, at rural Irelands ruin, would bring to Irelands middle classes
and peasant communities.
In fact, Carleton can be seen here to be extolling the economic intelligence and discerning patterns of land ownership practiced by peasants of this period. Only relatively recently have revisionist historians
commended the commercial awareness of the early nineteenth-century
Irish peasantry and these factors are too often overlooked in restrictive
and uncomplimentary literary, historical and journalistic accounts of
the Irish peasantry. Undeniably, a number of these pejorative accounts
still pepper the Irish literary canon. The ILMs inclusion of this story
is deliberately provocative in that it would call for a focus to be placed
upon the parochial infighting which took place at Irish traders settings
in the pre-famine era and which continued to cause concern by the time
of the Westminster Report on Markets and Fairs in 1852.5 This report led
to the closure of fairs where riots, sectarian and agrarian, had become a
permanent feature.
As such, in reading of Carletons unruly provincial markets, one
might question the sociological and consumerist viability that a large-scale
industrial exhibition would bring to Dublin. Might not the 1865 Dublin
Exhibitions international perspectives later deflect attention from a greater
provincial impoverishment in trade and, most pointedly, the perplexing
issue of post-famine Irelands recovery in rural communities? The case was in
fact proven to be the reverse by 1865. To successfully challenge West British
slurs on Irish markets and the riotousness of her fairs and exhibitions and

Details of this report can be found in Brian Dlaighs chapter The origins, rise
and decline of the Ennis fairs and markets in Cronin, D., Gilligan, J. and Holton, K.
(eds) (2001), Irish Fairs and Markets: Studies in Local History, Four Courts, Dublin,

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


in turn, to restore their monetary impulse, a significant brand of Celtic

consumerism was covertly introduced at Dublins 1853 exhibition. By the
time of the staging of the Dublin International Exhibition in 1865, Celtic
consumerism was set to be advertised on an even larger scale.

Covert Celtitude:
Product Placement at the 1853 and 1865 Dublin Exhibitions
In the months leading up to the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, gloomy
forecasts of the events failure, predicted structural damage and embittered
speculations on the squandering of the national workforces efforts were
common in both Scottish and Irish newspapers. Accounts in Edinburghs
Blackwoods Magazine were similarly lacking in effusion. An anonymous
brief and bleak article entitled The Proposed Exhibition of 1851 which
appeared in September 1850, strove to highlight the social dangers such
an exposition would bring to Britain:
We say this in no narrow or illiberal spirit. Were it for the credit, or, what is more, for
the good of the nation and the millions of industrious workmen which it contains,
that this Exhibition should go forward, it ought to have been made essentially a
national show, and the nation should have undertaken its expense, instead of leaving
it for individual contribution [] If it is proposed that the working population by
which we mean the great body of the British artisans should profit by it, a new
difficulty arises. How are they to find their way to London on the occasion? Are men
of that class so rich that they can afford to pay for their railway transit to and from
the metropolis, deserting their homes and occupations in Glasgow, Birmingham,
Sheffield, Bristol, Dundee, Paisley or Leeds and further, maintain themselves for
at least a week, while inspecting the productions of the foreigner [] Socially, we
believe that the Exhibition, if carried into effect, will do a vast deal of harm and on
that account alone we deprecate it. If only the wealthier classes throughout Great
Britain and Ireland, and the working men in the neighbourhood of London, are to
enjoy the spectacle, it is scarce worth having. (1850: 2812)



This appears an unsurprisingly hierarchical caveat given Blackwoods

political inclinations, yet the concern over how classes might retreat from
and then back to the Second cities of empire in order to aid the Great
Exhibition is revealing. That the exposition of 1851 fell short of what would
be considered a national show is apparent in the lustrous objects of empire
which animated the Crystal Palaces exhibition halls and which men of
that class bore no relation to in the sphere of bourgeois political economics. Although the Dublin Industrial Exhibition of 1853 was considered an
attempt to outdo the Great Exhibition in journalese de jour, what was
beginning to be exhibited in the expositions literature was material of a
national inclination which verged tantalisingly upon defiant celtitude.
Although the suffix -tude, is maintained in Latin-based languages adjectives to describe the ambiguity of national identities (such as anglitude
meaning Englishness in French) it is not utilised to the same effect in
current English. Rather the suffix is applied to English nouns describing
physical or emotional states i.e. solitude, certitude, attitude etc. Celtitude
is applied here not as a convenient jeu de mots but as a testament to the
varieties of Celtic representations of identity (both physical and emotional)
which were on offer in the coverage of the 1853 exhibition in press and in
the exhibition catalogue itself.
John Sproule, who edited the catalogue for the 1853 Irish Industrial
Exhibition boasted, I am glad to refer to this catalogue as a specimen of
Irish workmanship generally, being the result of native enterprise in every
department (Sproule, 1854: viii). Was this the case for every department in
the exhibition however? Irish industries featured only twice in a concentrated fashion in the Raw Materials and Textile Fabrics classes of exhibits. Together with a three page supplement on the Irish mining industry
and quarrying endeavours, there is little to apply Sproules claims ofCeltic
craftsmanship to the exhibits on offer at the exposition itself. Aside from
M.H. Gills publishing of the Exhibition catalogue, on the face of it, the
most outstanding examples of Irish involvement are evidenced in Dublin
businessman William Dargans generous underwriting of the entire event
and the in-house Exhibition Expositor.
In a dispiriting report of the extent of Irish mineral wealth and the
mining industry in Ireland, it is observed that owing to the small scale

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


copper, gold, iron and lead fields, all statistical information had to be amalgamated with that of England and Scotland to give a favourable overview
of the progress of the commerce. However, the dominant nations cropping
up in classes II, III, XVIII and XIX of the exhibition, displaying over 60
per cent of the listings for foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and tapestries, were
Scotland and Ireland. Bolstered by a subtle disclaimer, the finer class of
goods is scarcely at all produced in England [] we are year by year making
rapid advances upon our neighbours (Sproule, 1854: 338), the predominance in Celtic material in the tapestry section is remarkable. Out of the
151 exhibitors listed here only six are English manufacturers. The remaining
manufacturers, charities and individuals exhibiting originate from Cork,
Limerick, Paisley, Tipperary, Kilmarnock, Airdrie, Galway, County Down,
Dublin, Wicklow and Glasgow. The pharmaceutical section pays explicit
compliments to T. and H. Smith of Edinburgh for their magnificent
specimen of caffeine (Sproule, 1854: 117) and of the potions and chemicals
exhibited, very few are of English or Welsh origins.
The relationship between a preferential endorsement of Scottish and
Irish products and manufacturers and the proviso of Celtic consumerism
may be shrugged off as inconsequential by analysts of pure economics. As
such, Scotland and Ireland were certainly chief producers of upholstery,
crafts, foodstuffs and medicinal products in the early 1850s but on what
scale? The Times and other contemporary newspapers offered some rebuttal
to the charge of being a producer of inferior classes of goods by suggesting
that the multiple Irish exhibitors were minor producers. These allegedly
small-time industrialists did not avail of modern advances in machinery
and preferred an artisan approach which was ironically indicative of a
decline in industrial produce.6 That said, I would contend, together with
analysts of the phenomenon of encroaching Victorian consumer culture,
that the underrating of Irelands neighbours productions in the official

Further analysis of the economics behind Irelands changes in industry are noted in
Grda, C. (1994), Industry, c.17801914: An Overview, Ireland: A New Economic
History, Clarendon Press, Oxford, pp.273313.



exhibition catalogue was tantamount to inconspicuous consumerism.7 In

so doing, the attendees of the Irish Industrial Exhibition would be faced
with artisanal produce which was backward-looking economically. Thus,
consuming Irish artisan goods at the exhibition would result in middle
class attendees relating to the products of small time industrialists and
rural manufacture as opposed to Thorsten Vebelens notion of conspicuous consumerism. This idea of conspicuously purchasing ones way into a
greater social status by investing in objects signifying luxury was vouched
for by Vebelen in his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).
Publications emanating from the 1865 Irish International Exhibition
appeared even more heavily weighted towards promoting Scottish and Irish
industries as producers of objects for national consumption. Alongside the
shilling exhibition catalogues on sale at the event, each containing advertisements for Irish industries, a local barrister Mr Henry Parkinson also
compiled a beautifully illustrated and sizeable commemorative volume;
the Illustrated Record of the Dublin International Exhibition (Parkinson,
1866). It is in this volume that Irelands heuristic approach to exhibiting national production as a means of stimulating consumerism is perhaps most recognisable. In a prefatory statement which renders the 1865
International aspect of the Dublin International Exhibition somewhat
redundant, Parkinson asserts:
Especial attention and extended space have been given [] to the description and
details of Irish industries, in order to mark the progress which has been made in the
last ten years, so that on the occasion of any future International Exhibition being
held in Ireland a retrospective comparison may the more easily be made. (Parkinson,
1866: vvi)

The exposition was divided into three groupings; the British department,
the colonial department and the foreign department. In accordance with
Parkinsons promises of retrospective comparison, the International

Alternatively, the distinctly English exaltation of empire and advertising of it at the

Great Exhibition is discussed in Thomas Richards study (1991), The Commodity
Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle 18511914, Stanford University
Press, Stanford.

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


exhibition was rather top heavy in British exhibits which filled 250 pages of
the catalogue compared to the mere sixty pages devoted to colonial exhibits.
By any measure, the classes displaying raw materials, machinery and textile
fabrics in the catalogue were abundantly Irish in their written commentaries. These were unashamedly approving of national purchase and the most
profuse even offered up codified marketing packages to readers: About forty
firms are engaged in the trade [sewed muslins], some being Irish houses and
others agents for Scotch firms, and the gross value ofthe manufactured goods
amounts to about 1, 400, 000 (Parkinson, 1866: 273). Some ofthe industrially attractive reports included accounts of the national Pharmacy at the
Dublin Exhibition (12635), Woollen Manufactures ofIreland (2447),
Flax Growth and Industry in Ireland (25962), Lace Making in Ireland
(2734), The Porter Trade ofDublin and Messrs. Guinnesss Brewery and,
as in the 1853 catalogue, a series of apologetic articles on Irish mining (101
17). The abundance of Irish and Celtic-based entries in the 1865 catalogue
reflects a recovering economic situation in Ireland where artisanal trades
such as linen and flax making were becoming successful with the assistance
of Scottish settlers in the North of Ireland. Far from providing a superficial
analysis, an examination of the ephemera detailing exhibitions on show at
each of the 1853 and 1865 exhibitions in Dublin reveals deliberate attempts
to valorise Irish industry and national consumerist development and an
intentional ostracising ofBritish imperial equivalents. Although apparently
Industrial and International in inclination, this terminology is speculative
in view of the Irish artisanal trades and top-heavy Irish exhibits on offer at
each exhibition. Furthermore, in light of the luxury of the commemorative exhibition catalogues which contained fine examples of wood prints
and colour illustrations, the publication itself would have been affordable
chiefly to the wealthier classes and particularly the emerging Catholic middle
classes who would be later recast as significant consumers and capitalists in
Dublin. Parkinson and Sproule were clearly keen to preserve the memory
of the exhibition as a flouting of British consumer dependence in their
commemorative catalogues by their preferential puffing of industries native
to Scotland and Ireland. Between 1888 and 1914, even greater evidence of
Celtic consumerism was exhibited at major arts, crafts, international and
industrial expositions in Glasgow and Edinburgh.



Scottish and Irish Consumerism vs. European Modernism

A cultural historian of exhibitions A. Geppert argues that many fin de sicle
European exhibitions came furnished with analogues relating to representations of space and intertextual accessories (Geppert, 2010: 4) which would
be repeated at many major European cities. Old London and alt Berlin
were amongst a number of recurring representations of pre-consumerist
cities staged at the 1908 Franco-British exhibition in London. These mock
towns acted as microcosms of historical cities to attract tourists and incited
the consumption oftraditionally produced goods because, I imagine, these
wares were of such a stark contrast to the machinery exhibits, bronze busts,
art and objects of a colonial orientation featured elsewhere. Thus Geppert
observes that a leading Irish soap manufacturer McLinton set up a traditional Irish rural dwelling named Ballymclinton to give a real idea of Irish
life (Geppert, 2010: 1246) and to enable visitors to partake of the launch
of their new soap product Colleen. At the modest price of sixpence entry,
visitors could witness 200 Irish colleens hired from the West of Ireland
animating the setting and performing traditional home industries such
as lace making, weaving and of course, soap making. Three years later, at
the 1911 Scottish Exhibition in Glasgow, a similar strategy was adopted by
Highland Home Industries deployment of a mock Highland village named
An Clachan (Figure 1) where, after paying the entry fee, consumers could
witness Gaelic-speaking highland women weaving tweeds and plaids before
being urged to purchase highland refreshments.8 Where An Clachan and
Ballymclintons promotional strategies differ is in their strivings to represent
an illusory and patriotic sense of space which is marketable not by the hand
of individual agency interloping at an otherwise international exhibition
(as McLinton did in 1908) but by the creation of a national, self-contained
exhibition designed to feature Celtic consumerism at its zenith.

Fuller discussion of the Highland Home Industries involvement and the patriotic
ends of this exhibit can be found in Kinchin, P. and Kinchin, J. (1995), Glasgows
Great Exhibitions: 1888, 1901, 1911, 1938, 1988, White Cockade Publishing, Bicester,

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


Figure 1. In the Clachan, Souvenir Album of the Scottish Exhibition 1911, p.41.

Gepperts analysis of European exhibitions in the fin de sicle period

is, conveniently enough, laced with the rhetoric of modernism. If this is
to be believed, advertising and promoting national identity for economic
means (Celtic consumerism in Scotland and Ireland) might be readily
accepted as a turn of the century phenomenon staged primarily in the
glamorous culture capitals of London, Berlin, Vienna or Paris. Cultural
studies have mentioned elsewhere however that the modernist impulse
appeared prematurely in both Scotland and Irelands plastic arts, theatre
and literature in comparison to that of the rest of Great Britain. Does
the currency of Virginia Woolf s estimation that on or about December
1910, human character changed hold any purchase in relation to exhibitions then? Or have the three major Scottish International expositions
of this period been short-changed? These exhibitions were held prior to
conceptions of intertextual accessories and modernist representations of



space and clearly legitimised the Victorian exhibition as a viable forum

for promoting a more sophisticated brand of Celtic consumption which
had already been in circulation in Ireland since the 1850s.

The Glasgow International Exhibitions of 1888 and 1901

A momentum for promoting Irish and Scottish wares in exhibition catalogues had already been established in the Dublin events some forty years
prior to Glasgows exhibitions. Both expositions were held in the area surrounding the University ofGlasgow by the river Kelvin and boasted specially
commissioned buildings such as the Grand Central Dome, Kelvingrove
Art Gallery (1901), a Japanese Pavilion (1901) and the Doulton fountain
which was moved from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green two years
after the exhibition and which still stands today. The reciprocity of Celtic
consumerism in Glasgow was fervently displayed in the 1888 International
Exhibition where two thirds of the exhibits on offer were Scottish and an
unprecedented display of Irish goods was available in the Womens Arts and
Industries section. In this section, to vouch for the International nature
of the exhibition a scant number of German, Czech, Canadian, Greek,
Italian and a solitary Jamaican womens self-help group are recorded.
Despite a warning in the Regulations for Exhibitors advising exhibitors
that [T]hey will in all cases be forbidden [] to invite or allow visitors to
purchase goods for removal at the time of purchase, the Exhibition being
intended for the purposes of display (Official Catalogue, 1888: 523) the
hawking of goods did nonetheless occur. The official catalogue set forth a
consumerist current, awash with fifty pages of advertisements at the front
and back of the catalogue and even as footers to the listings. Amongst
the most eye catching are ads for Summer Tours in Scotland by shipping
magnate David MacBrane, James & Robert Young Flax and Tow Spinners
who employed a double page image of their Belfast warehouse, summer
holidays to Rothesay the Madeira of Scotland, and a lithographed image
of a polar bear bearing the brand Siebers Fur Store of 49 Buchanan Street,

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


Glasgow. The Corporation of Irvine unashamedly addressed their pitch for

property developers To Capitalists and Robert Scouler & Sons banked
upon their Ayrshire base by advertising Land O Burns oats and cereals.

Figure 2. To Capitalists, Corporation of Irvine advertisement,

Glasgow International Exhibition 1888: Official Catalogue, p.311.

Figure 3. Land O Burns, Robert Scoular advertisement,

Glasgow International Exhibition 1888: Official Catalogue, p.462.



At this International exhibition, Scotland took centre stage and as

Kinchin observes the genuinely foreign section number[ed] [only] about
70 exhibitors (Kinchin, 1995: 34).
The 1901 International exhibition featured some of Glasgows finest
industrial equipment including sugar refineries, print works, iron mongers and within the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed Kelvingrove
Art Gallery, journalists remarked on the Glasgow Boys portraits and
the overbearingly large bronze sculptures of Robert Burns and Sir Walter
Scott. Amidst frenzies of tartan and in an attempt to the redress the
indictment of parochialism with which commentators had besmirched
the Old Glasgow Exhibition of 1894, the 1901 International Exhibition
promoted Scotlands consumer revival culturally as part and parcel of a
Celtic consumerism through advertising the wares of an artistic Celtic
Revival occurring in both Scotland and Ireland from the 1890s onwards.
The material on offer to promote Scottish identity at both International
Exhibitions displays a neglect of what observers might expect to be the
dominant concerns of second cities of empire, namely, the tobacco trade
and shipbuilding.
Irish and Scottish self-advertising at purportedly industrial or international exhibitions may appear less sleekit or contentious and more circumstantial to cultural observers who might fail to recognise the Victorian
exhibition as a valid space for testing consumer identities. Newspaper
reports of the period seemed too outwardly embarrassed by the lack of
sufficiently international and colonial exhibits at Glasgow and Dublins
exhibitions to comment on the brazen flaunting of Celtic consumerism
in catalogues, exhibit descriptions and advertisements. Of course, a definitive discussion of a Celtic consumer agenda lurking behind the Irish presences at Scottish exhibitions and vice versa would call for a more in-depth
analysis, accounting for broader selections of civic events. A Victorian
exhibitionary complex, to borrow the title of Tony Bennetts article,9

Bennetts 1988 article The Exhibitionary Complex, New Formations, Spring

(4), pp.73102 builds upon the theories of Foucault and Gramsci to dissect the
role of the nineteenth-century states knowledge and power in promoting popular

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


could be sufficiently aligned with Celtic consumerism if Victorian Irish

and Scottish advertising and consumer studies continue to develop. Pat
Cooke has recently accounted for the cultural and economic interplay of
Irish economics of identity by examining cultural heritage in the postindependence era. In an answer to the protests of disenchanted culturalists who would discredit cross-contamination of cultural practice with
economics, Cooke asks Can we be economical about heritage without
being entirely economical about the kind of truth that the search for cultural identity embodies? (Cooke, 2009: 6886). In terms of exhibiting
an innovative form of consumerism which is of Celtic interest, Victorian
Ireland and Scotland would have had equally uncomfortable truths to
acknowledge at the suggestion that Celtic consumerism was colonially
therapeutic. In examining exhibitions, cultural resolve and Celtic consumerism emerge not from hindsight or inconvenient economic truths
but by the very delicacies in observation which Patrick Geddes employed
to establish regional survey. Celtic consumerism, although painted as
somewhat garish at times in my own analysis, was in fact a matter for
subtle sociological and economic deliberation for Victorian consumers
and entrepreneurs attending exhibitions. As such, Celtic consumerism
might well continue to fall under the radar in Irish and Scottish cultural
studies for those unwilling to avail themselves of the micro and macro
aspects of Geddes viewfinder.

culture through museums and exhibitions. The stealth with which these exhibitions
appeared in the United Kingdom from the mid- to late nineteenth century is also
discussed by Bennett as enabling a mass psychological complex to arise whereby
individual agency is sacrificed in the attendance of museums and exhibitions in
order that participants become the subjects rather than the objects of knowledge
exhibited (Bennett, 1988: 76).



(1888), Glasgow International Exhibition: Official Catalogue, T. & A. Constable,
(1901), Pearsons Gossipy Guide to Glasgow, The Clyde District and the International
Exhibition of 1901, C. R Pearson, London.
(1901), Photo Album of the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, Special Collections
University of Glasgow Library.
(1911), Souvenir Album of the Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry,
T. & R. Annan, Glasgow.
(1911), The News Pictorial Book of the Glasgow Exhibition, The Glasgow Evening
News, Glasgow.
Addison, R. (2002), Corporate Images, 1886: Advertising at the International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, in Addison, R., Beavan, I., Holmes, H. and
Thomson, E. (eds), Images and Advertising, Merchiston Publishing, Edinburgh,
Beckett, J.C. et al. (1988), Belfast: The Making of a City, Appletree Press, Belfast.
Bennett, T. (1988), The Exhibitionary Complex, New Formations, Spring (4),
Boardman, P. (1944), Patrick Geddes: Maker of the Future, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
Bowe, N.G. and Cumming, E. (1998), The Arts and Crafts Movements in Dublin and
Edinburgh 18851925, Irish Academic Press, Dublin.
Cooke, P. (2009), The Economics of Identity: Heritage as a Cultural Resource in
Ireland, 192289, Journal of Irish and Scottish Studies, 2, (2), pp.6780.
Cronin, D., Gilligan, J. and Holton, K. (2001), Irish Fairs and Markets: Studies in
Local History, Four Courts, Dublin.
Cumming, E. (2006), Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland, Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh.
Geddes, P. (1887), Industrial Exhibitions and Modern Progress, David Douglas,
Gibbons, L. (1996), Transformations in Irish Culture, Cork University Press in Association with Field Day, Cork.
Greenhalgh, P. (1988), Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and Worlds Fairs, 18511939, Manchester University Press, Manchester.
Harnett, A.W. (1853), The Dublin Industrial Exhibition of 1853, The Illustrated
London Magazine: A Monthly Journal, Vol. 1, July, pp.435.

Second Cities of Empire: Celtic Consumerism Exhibited


Johnson, J. and Rosenburg, L. (2010), Renewing Old Edinburgh: The Enduring Legacy
of Patrick Geddes, Argyll Publishing, Edinburgh.
Kinchin, P. and Kinchin, J. (1995), Glasgows Great Exhibitions: 1888, 1901, 1911, 1938,
1988, White Cockade Publishing, Bicester.
Litvak, L. (2000), Exhibiting Ireland, 18513: Colonial Mimicry in London, Cork
and Dublin, in Litvak, L. (ed.), Ireland in the Nineteenth Century: Regional
Identity, Four Courts Press, Dublin, pp.1557.
MacKenzie, J.M. (1999), The Second City of the Empire: Glasgow Imperial
Municipality, in Driver, F. and Gilbert, D. (eds), Imperial Cities: Landscape,
Display and Identity, Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp.21537.
McCluskey, S. (2006), The Fair of Emyvale, Clogher Historical Society, 19, (1),
Parkinson, H. and Simmonds, P.L. (1866), The Illustrated Record and Descriptive
Catalogue of the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865, John Falconer, Dublin.
Rains, S. (2008), Here be monsters: the Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853 and the
growth of Dublin department stores, Irish Studies Review, 16, (4), pp.487506.
Rains, S. (2010), Commodity Culture and Social Class in Dublin 18501916, Irish
Academic Press, Dublin.
Robertson, D. (1896), Glasgow, Printers, Publishers and Booksellers, in Glasgow
Institute of the Fine Arts, Exhibition Illustrative of Old Glasgow 1894, Galleries
Press, Glasgow, pp.xxxxxxii.
Saris, J.A. (2000), Imagining Ireland in the Great Exhibition of 1853, in Litvak, L.
(ed), Ireland in the Nineteenth Century: Regional Identity, Four Courts Press,
Dublin, pp.6686.
Sproule, J. (1854), The Irish Industrial Exhibition of 1853: A Detailed Catalogue of its
Contents, James McGlashan, Dublin.
Sweetnam, R. (1988), The development of the port, in Beckett, J.C. et al.(1988),
Belfast: The Making of a City, Appletree Press, Belfast, pp.5770.
Williams, R. (1988), Keywords, Fontana, London.
Young, W. (1896), Views, Maps and Plans, in Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Exhibition Illustrative of Old Glasgow 1894, Galleries Press, Glasgow, pp.xxixxiii.


True poetic comrades:

Mineko Matsumura and the Reception of
Fiona Macleod in Japan

The Oxford Book of Scottish Short Stories (1995, reissued 2001 and 2008),
edited by Douglas Dunn, can be taken as something of a touchstone for
what is currently understood to constitute the canon of short Scottish
fiction in Britain. It includes no stories by William Sharp and/or Fiona
Macleod. This situation contrasts with a recent surge in the popularity of
this writer in Japan, both among general readers and scholars connected
with the Japan Caledonia Society, the central association for the study of
Scottish cultures in Japan (Matusi, 2001; Arimoto, 2008). The striking
popularity of Fiona Macleod in modern Japan can be traced back to the
appearance of Kanashiki jy- (The sad queen), a collection of Macleods
short stories first published in 1925. In recent years it has been reset and
issued twice by different publishers in 1989 and in 2005. Kanashiki
jy- was translated and edited by Mineko Matsumura, a pseudonym of
the tanka poet, Hiroko Katayama (18871957). This essay will explore
the context and nature of Matsumuras translation, and examine the way
in which it has become something of a classic in modern Japan. In doing
so, it will trace some interesting literary connections between Ireland,
Scotland and Japan.



Hiroko Katayama and Tanka

It is worth starting with some account of Katayama herself, and her work as
a poet. Her maiden name was Yoshida. She had a Christian education (but
was not baptised) and was introduced to various works of English literature by Beatrice Lane Suzuki, the wife of the famous Zen-priest, Daisetsu
Suzuki. Katayama married a banker, and in many ways was the typical
modest, professional mans wife, but she was a highly cultivated lady and
joined a tanka circle. She started publishing poems in poetry magazines,
but did not seek great literary success. She published two collections of
tanka: Kawasemi (A kingfisher, 1916) and No ni sumite (Living in the country, 1954). To her first collection, Kawasemi, Yone Noguchi contributed
a dedicatory poem written both in English and in Japanese (Noguchi,
2006). In general, Katayama has not been recognised as a major tanka
poet. Nevertheless, Yukitsuna Sasaki (2006) argues that Kawasemi can be
regarded as the first tanka collection in which a female poet successfully
treats philosophical subjects. Later, synchronising with the general tendency to reevaluate the work of female poets that has been going on since
the mid-twentieth century, her second tanka collection, No ni sumite, was
published when she was seventy-five years old.
I give two examples of Katayamas tanka here to illustrate her artistic
personality. First, it might be worth saying a few words about the form.
Though much less well known than haiku in the West, it is in fact the older
form. Indeed it is said that the first poem in Japanese (recited by the god
Susan) was written in this form (Keene, 1988). While haiku has seventeen
syllables, usually arranged in 575 sound sections, tanka has thirty-one syllables, usually arranged in 57577 sound sections. In recent times some
Western poets have employed the form: Seamus Heaneys serial poems,
Midnight Anvil, published in District and Circle (2006), are a good example.1 The two tanka given here were, according to Japanese convention,

The marvellous anthology of contemporary Irish poetry with Japanese motifs, Our
Shared Japan, features a number of the poems following the tanka scheme: Dermot

True poetic comrades


written on one line; the translations, however, are divided into five lines
to transplant the original 57577 sound combination most effectively.2 Neither appears in her collections, but they were selected by Mayumi
Tsuruoka as highly characteristic of her tanka style, which, as Tsuruoka
(2004) notes, often included unusual themes because of her educational
background and exposure to English literature.
The first poem was published in 1915, a year before the appearance of
Kawasemi. The Christian theme and defiant attitude toward patriarchal
culture are very unusual in tanka poetry of this period, especially that
written by female poets:
It is a pity.
If thinking like this is sin,
I have surely sinned.
However I feel no shame
Even when in Gods presence.

The second was written in 1951, and is very autobiographical as an attached

explanatory note in prose made clear (Katayama/Matumura, 2006: 470).
Katayama was then seventy-three years old, and had not translated Irish
literature since around 1930.
Far beyond the sky,
There are poets in Ireland.
Once I thought of them
As true poetic comrades:
But that was a passing dream.

Bolgers Westport Tanka, Francis Harveys A Tanka and Four Haiku, Seamus
Heaneys Midnight Anvil and Eileen Katos Sakurajima, for instance (De Angelis
and Woods, 2007).
The following poems were translated by me and lyricised by Dr David Chandler,
Doshisha University. The first poem may be found in Katayama/Matsumura, 2006,
p.245; the second in ibid., p.470.



Katayama and Irish Literature in Japan: The Background

Katayamas remarkable thought that the poets in Ireland had once been
true poetic comrades serves as a useful bridge to a consideration of her
activities as a translator. She published many translations of English literary works, mostly with the pseudonym Mineko Matsumura.3 Most of her
translations were published in the 1910s and 20s, and her translations of
Irish literature in particular brought her a high reputation in the contemporary literary world. Her attraction to Irish literature, and the public
appetite for translations, need to be understood within a larger context.
As is well known, after the Meiji Restoration (1868), Japan made a very
ambitious attempt to Westernise itself. This included embracing Western
culture, and in the late 1800s a flood of Western literary works were introduced to Japanese readers. By the early 1900s, Japanese writers had begun to
discover and explore the work of such contemporary Irish writers as Lady
Gregory, Yeats, Synge, Shaw and Lord Dunsany. The career of Kan Kikuchi
(18881948) is central here. In the 1910s and 1920s he was a leading critic
and popular novelist. He was a great enthusiast for Irish literature, and
did much to popularise it (Kno, 1997; Tsuruoka, 2004; Yamada, 2007).
Having graduated from the University of Kyoto, Kikuchi subsequently
declared that Kyoto or Osaka (the second biggest city in Japan) should seek
to become the Dublin of Japan it was the Irish Literary Revival he had in
mind. Starting with Shaw, he successively discovered and praised various
Irish writers, showing a consistent obsession with the Irish literary scene.
He wanted Irish literature to be translated into Japanese, but insisted on
high standards: his vehement attack on a mistranslation of Lady Gregorys
Hyacinth Harvey by Teiichi Nakagi, a contemporary novelist, in 1914 has
become famous. In his literary criticism, Kikuchi also tried to clearly distinguish Irish dramas from British ones. The introduction to a book he

It is said that Katayama picked up the pseudonym from the name on the umbrella
of a school child. She did not know the girl, but happened to be riding on the same
bus (Kiyobe, 1997).

True poetic comrades


co-authored with Shji Yamamoto, Eikoku/Airurando kindaigeki seizui

(Essences of British and Irish modern dramas, 1925), best illustrates this.
Among contemporary Irish writers, Kikuchi most admired Synge. In
1917, he published an article on Synge and Irish ideas, in which he identified
an emotional or fantastic nature in the Irish or the Celt, and insisted that
the Japanese, living simple, natural lives in an insular country, are people
who can understand such nature. Kenji Kno (1997) points out that the
style ofKikuchis well-known drama, Chichi kaeru (The father returns, 1917),
is heavily influenced by his obsession with Ireland, especially Synge (46).
(Kikuchis dramas, including Chichi kaeru, were translated into English by
Glenn W. Shaw and published by Hokuseid, a Japanese publisher, in 1925.)
In the early 1900s, Kikuchi was not the only Japanese writer interested
in Irish literature. Rynosuke Akutagawa (18971927), regarded as one
of the best writers of modern Japan, is another example. Indeed it is clear
that in the 1910s and 1920s, reading and talking about Irish literature was
something of a fashion among Japanese literary circles. It was in this context
that Katayama began publishing translations of Irish literature as Mineko
Matsumura, and her skilful and beautiful translations soon attracted the
admiration of the Japanese literary world.4
Her first translation was Lady Gregorys one-act play, The Full Moon
(1910), published in a literary magazine in 1914. In 1917, her translation
ofThe Playboy of the Western World was published in book form, and was
warmly appreciated by Kikuchi in 1921 (Kikuchi, 2006). Later she published collections of both Lord Dunsanys dramas (1921) and Synges plays
(1922). Her other key translations from Irish literature include Yeatss At
the Hawks Well and his collaborative work with Lady Gregory, Cathleen
N Houlihan. All this made Matsumura the centre of the boom in Irish
literature. However, she stopped translating Irish literature around 1930,
perhaps no longer feeling that the Irish writers were her poetic comrades.

Katayama had an intimate friendship with Akutagawa just before his suicide. Their
relationships became the model of Tatsuo Horis short story, Seikazoku (A holy
family, 1930).



Mineko Matsumura and Fiona Macleod

Now I come back to Fiona Macleod. When Katayama/Matsumura compiled a collection of her translations of Irish dramas in 1922, she included
Macleods play, The House of Usna (Matsumura, 1925a). The setting of
The House of Usna is Ulster, and in that sense it might be tendentiously
called an Irish drama. But the inclusion of Macleods work with that of
Irish writers suggests that Katayama/Matsumura regarded it as closely
related: Irish in spirit, if not in fact. She had good grounds for doing so,
as the relationship between the Scottish William Sharp/Macleod and
Irish writers had already been well established. In 1895, The Sin-Eater by
Macleod, a collection of stories based on folk tales from the Highlands of
Scotland, was published by the firm of Patrick Geddes which had been
established with the intention of promoting the Scoto-Celtic movement.
The Sin-Eater, in fact, immediately drew vivid reactions from the centre of
the Irish Literary Revival. Douglas Hyde wrote to William Sharp: I think
Fiona Macleods books the most interesting thing in the new Scoto-Celtic
movement, which I hope will march side by side with our own (Sharp,
Elizabeth A., 2004, vol. 2: 59). In 1896, the same publisher brought out
another collection ofMacleods folkloric stories, The Washer of the Ford. The
deep relationship between Sharp/Macleod and the Irish Literary Revival
must have been one of the reasons why Katayama/Matsumura began paying
attention to Macleods works.
Katayama owned the Uniform edition of the Collected Works of
William Sharp edited by his wife, Elizabeth A. Sharp, and published in 1910.
Her collection of books is presently held by the library of Japan Womens
University, and her copy of the Collected Works can be found there, though
the second volume is lost (Imura, 2005). Katayama/Matsumura made her
translations from this edition, and clearly knew that the Macleod works
were written by Sharp, and that Sharp was a Scottish writer. Her own use
of a pseudonym probably made her particularly interested in the strange
Sharp/Macleod relationship. In 1920, the Japanese literary critic Takeshi
Kimura published an article fully devoted to an analysis of Sharps mental

True poetic comrades


condition when he wrote as Fiona Macleod (Kimura, 1920). Katayama/

Matsumura knew this article, and it is cited in the postscript of her translation of one of the Macleod stories.

Kanashi Jy-, or The Sad Queen

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, Matsumura translated some of Macleods
short stories and began to publish them. Most of the stories she chose are
based on Gaelic myths or folk tales, and in some Gaelic words appear. In
1917, her first Macleod translations, The Sad Queen and The Laughter of
Scathach the Queen, appeared in Mitabungaku, a literary magazine. The
later translations all appeared in Kokoro no hana, a tanka poetry magazine, where they are juxtaposed with many tanka poems. In some cases,
Matsumura just translated part of a short story, or translated one from a
connected series of stories.
All but one ofthe translated stories were taken from the second volume
of the Collected Works. However when Matsumura brought all twelve
of her translations together into book form, she completely altered the
sequence of the stories. In the Collected Works there is a clear continuity of
storylines and characters: Sharps wife, Elizabeth, had carefully sequenced
them according to their contents and motifs. But Matsumura seems to have
ignored this, and simply to have lined up the stories like individual pictures
exhibited in a gallery. Similarly, though the stories nearly all come from
The Sin-Eater and The Washer of the Ford collections, Matsumura chose
neither of these titles for her translated volume. Rather, she took her title
from a story included in The Washer of the Ford section, The Sad Queen.
This story was not in the original Washer of the Ford collection, but had
been added to it by Elizabeth Sharp (Sharp, Mrs. William, 1910: 449).
Kanashiki jy-, or The sad queen, was published in 1925.
The first story in Kanashiki jy- is a good illustration of Matsumuras
free approach. The story is entitled Azarashi, meaning the marine animal



seal in Japanese. (Matsumuras translation had originally appeared in

Kokoro no hana in 1924.) This was originally the third part of the trilogy
entitled Three Marvels of Hy, and had the subtitle The Moon-Child. So
Matsumura broke up the story group, put the last part first in her collection, placed the second part, The Sabbath of the Fishes and Flies, later,
and did not translate the first part at all. Clearly she did not think much
of the connections between the stories; she seems to have been attracted
to the imagery or impression created by individual tales.
In Azarashi or The Moon-Child, St Colum suffers remorse for having
crucified a seal man named Black Angus. He did this because Black Angus
let a human lady bear a child who had no soul (Macleod, 1910b: 296).
The story is based on a Scottish folk tale of Seal People or Selkie, which is
why Matsumura entitled the story Seal. The Moon-Child however is the
child with no soul, not a seal child. He has a human form and is called the
Moon-Child when he is with the Light of God at the end of the story.
Katayama thus ignored the original title in her translation.
Macleods story ends with a Christian prayer:
What is it, O Lord my God? whispered the old servant of God that was now
glad with the gladness: what is this, thy boon?
Perfect Peace.
And that is all.
(To be the Glory. Amen) (Sharp, William, 1910b: 300)

Matsumuras translation ends:

waga kami yo, nani wo kudasarunoka. Kami no oitaru shimobe ha yorokobi ni
michite tsubuyaita. Ima, watakushi ni, nani wo kudasarunoka.
Mattaki heiwa. (Macleod, 1989: 201. Original Japanese phoneticised)

In her translation, the final two italicised lines in the original are cut, just
as she deletes the beginnings or endings of some of the other stories.
The quoted passage also illustrates the style of Matsumuras translation of Macleod: it is rhythmic and recites well. Many brief phrases are
connected with each other, and many short sentences used, especially in
conversational sections. Some sentences are incomplete; they finish in the

True poetic comrades


middle with nouns, or are just noun phrases. This writing technique is
called taigen-dome (stopping with indeclinable words) in Japanese, and
it can be often seen in haiku or tanka because of the five- or seven-syllable
restrictions. Although Matsumuras prose translations are not in any sense
dominated by five- or seven-syllable phrases, her style of compiling short
phrases can be called poetic, or tanka-like. Of course it is also true to say that
in Macleods original stories many short phrases and remarks are employed
to create the atmosphere of a folkloric or primitive Celtic world.
Macleods stories sometimes have clearly modern aspects. Jason Marc
Harris (2008) argues that in Macleods stories with the seal-people or selkie
motif complicated psychological conflicts and reflections of Darwinian
evolutionary or degenerating ideas can be seen. Nevertheless, as Harris
(2008) states, the tales also have an ancient and allegorical aspect (185).
The stories Harris discusses are those in volumes 2 and 3 of Sharps Collected
Works. These were the volumes from which Matsumura made her selections,
but interestingly she did not choose to translate the stories that Harris is
principally concerned with. Most of the stories in Kanashiki jy- seem
to be ancient and allegorical, or romantic and/or religious. For example,
Azarashi or The Moon-Child, the story I have focused on here, sees St.
Colum, who desperately repents his deeds against the fantastic creatures,
miraculously received Perfect Peace. In general, Matsumura seems to have
avoided stories with more overtly modern themes.
On the other hand, in Matsumuras translation the rural flavour of
the stories is often lost in translation. She slightly distinguishes the speech
of peasants, kings and priests, but basically most of the characters speak
elegant Japanese. No strong rural or class dialect is adapted for the peasants. The world of the stories thus becomes a rather unreal, stateless one.
A final point on the style of Matsumuras translation: she had great
difficulty accurately fixing the pronunciations of Gaelic words, or Irish or
Scottish proper nouns, because of a lack of information and reliable scholars. To write such words in Japanese, translators have to first decide exactly
how they should be pronounced, and even then there are often difficulties.
In one of her afterwords, Matsumura (1925b) complains that she could
not accurately write Ulster in Japanese (6). She tried to overcome the
difficulties in various ways. In some cases, Gaelic words are not translated



and are kept in the text as they are; in some they disappear from the story;
in some they are translated into archaic Japanese words. In some cases she
simply guessed the sounds and often made mistakes, sometimes causing
unexpected defamiliarisation. In Azarashi, for example, Black Angus
is called Kuroki [Black] Angsu (sounding like Angoose). The name of
the wild bestial creature is here read and pronounced like a Latin name.

The Celtic Boom and Fiona Macleod

Matsumuras Kanashiki jy-, though it had enjoyed some popularity in the
1920s, had been long forgotten by the time it was republished in a second
edition in 1989. This second edition caused a surprising stir, attracting more
praise and popularity than the first had six decades earlier.
I will briefly digress here to point out a serious textual error in this
second edition. The fact that it was apparently not noticed by readers and
reviewers, and that it reappears in the third edition (2005), makes a striking comment on the way Macleod has been read in Japanese and suggests
that her recent popularity may have a good deal to do with Matsumuras
translation style. Near the beginning of Azarashi nearly a whole page was
omitted, probably editorial inadvertence. In the original, Colum blesses
his dead brethren with his followers, returns to his cell, then descends to
the sea by himself and meets the Divine Light at the shore. In the second
edition of the translation, however, just after Colum blesses his followers
he suddenly begins to talk with the Light. It seems obvious that something
is missing, and the fact this was not spotted suggests perhaps a readership
not looking for logical connections, but rather content to lose themselves
in the poetic suggestiveness of Matsumuras language.5

For further details of this remarkable omission, see Shimokusu 2010. The article is
written in Japanese.

True poetic comrades


The success of Matsumuras Kanashiki jy- in 1989 and later, and the
fact that it was republished at all, clearly had much to do with the fashion
for Celtic culture that had developed in the preceding years, mainly on the
back of the enormous popularity of the singer Enya (who had rapidly risen
to international fame after being featured in the 1986 BBC documentary
series, The Celts). In Japan, Celtic meant Irish in most cases. Irish music
became popular; many fantastic novels with a Celtic flavor were translated;
and there was a steady flow of academic and popular books on Irish and
Celtic subjects. The mysterious images ofthe Celts pervasive in the age of
the Celtic Renaissance in the young Yeatss folkloric books, for example
impacted on various cultural media in Japan. The Celtic and strongly
fantastic flavour of Kanashiki jy-, expressed in elegant, poetic Japanese,
seems to have been central to its renewed appeal. It is noteworthy that it
did not revive interest in Matsumuras other translations of Irish writers
works where these elements were less pronounced. The 1989 edition added
a revealing subtitle: Keruto gens sakuhinsh, Celtic Fantastic Stories. This
subtitle was retained for the third edition of 2005.
A more specific influence on the reappearance of Matsumuras
Kanashiki jy- was probably another collection of Fiona Macleods short
stories translated by Hiroshi Aramata, an erudite novelist and writer.
Aramata translated most of the stories found in the first edition of The
Sin-Eater; he thus translated a few stories earlier translated by Matsumura.
Aramatas translation, published in 1983, was entitled Keruto minwasy,
that is A Collection of Celtic Folk Tales: a rather misleading choice of title.
In the explanatory notes, Aramata (1991) mentioned Matsumuras translation of Macleod, long forgotten at that time. His translation was republished by a different publisher in 1991 in the middle of the Celtic boom
when it followed the appearance of the second edition of Kanashiki
jy-. The publisher republishing Aramatas translation, Chikumashob,
is also the one responsible for publishing the third edition of Matsumuras



I have shown that Irish literature began to attract the serious attention
of Japanese writers in the 1910s and 1920s. A key figure in the process of
translation and reception was the tanka poet, Hiroko Katayama, using the
pseudonym Mineko Matsumura. Well known as a fine translator of Irish
literature, Matsumura also translated Fiona Macleod probably because of
Macleods perceived relationship with the Irish Literary Revival. Her collection of translations of Macleods short stories was published in book
form in 1925. It was republished in 1989, in the middle of the Celtic boom
in Japan, and again in a different edition in 2005. At present, it is the best
known of all Matsumuras translated works, and Fiona Macleods fame in
Japan is largely derived from the translation, and directly and indirectly
from her association with Irish literature.

The study from which this paper was developed was funded by Grant-inAid for Scientific Research (C) No. 21520295: Research on the Change of
Folk Tales into Artistic Works and their Globalisation. I also thank my
university, Doshisha, for its financial support of this study.
I would like to express sincere gratitude to participants at the 8th
Conference of the North-East Irish Culture Network (NEICN) for their
valuable comments and great inspiration.
Dr David Chandler, my irreplaceable colleague, lyricised the poems
quoted in this article and read an earlier version of this essay, contributing precious suggestions and editorial assistance. I also thank Mr Joseph
Woods, Director of Poetry Ireland, for reading the translated poems of
Mineko Matsumura and providing helpful suggestions.

True poetic comrades


Aramata, Hiroshi (1991), Kaisetsu: hopp no kurai hoshi [Explanatory notes: a dark
northern star], in Fiona Macleod, Keruto minwasy [A collection of Celtic folk
tales], Chikumashobo, Tokyo, pp.21741.
Arimoto, Shiho (2008), Uiriamu Sypu niyoru Fiona Makuraudo no perusona
kchiku [The construction of the persona of Fiona Macleod by William
Sharp], in Japan Caledonia Society (ed.), Scotland no rekishi to bunka, Akashishoten, Tokyo, pp.51534.
De Angelis, Irene and Joseph Woods (eds) (2007), Our Shared Japan: An Anthology
of Contemporary Irish Poetry, Dedalus Press, Dublin.
Dunn, Douglas (ed.) (1995), The Oxford Book of Scottish Short Stories, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Fujita, Fukuo (1965), Katayama Hiroko no sakufgaikan narabini nenpu [An overview on Hiroko Katayamas poetic style and chronology of her life and works],
The Bulletin of Faculty of Education, Kanazawa University, 14, pp.122.
Harris, Jason Mark (2008), Folklore and the Fantastic in Nineteenth-century British
Fiction, Ashgate, Surrey.
Imura, Kimie (2005), Kaidai: Airurando bungaku honyakuka Matsumura Mineko
[An explanatory essay: Mineko Matsumura, a translator of Irish Literature], in
Macleod, Kanashiki jy-, Chikumashobo, Tokyo, pp.279304.
Katayama, Hiroko/Mineko Matsumura (2006), No ni sumite [Living in the country],
edited by Kaori nishi, Getsuysha, Tokyo.
Keene, Donald (1988), The Pleasures of Japanese Literature, Columbia University
Press, New York.
Kikuchi, Kan (2006), Foreword to Danseini gikyoku zensy [A collection of dramas of
Lord Dunsany] in Katayama/Matsumura, 2006, pp.55960.
Kikuchi, Kan and Shji Yamamoto (1925), Eikoku/Airurando kindaigeki seizui [Essences
of British and Irish modern dramas], Shinchsha, Tokyo.
Kimura, Takeshi (1920), Kojinnai niokeru rysei no katt [A conflict of two sexes
in an individual], Shinch 33, (6), pp.4955.
Kiyobe, Chizuko (1997), Katayama Hiroko: Kok no shijin [Hiroko Katayama: a nobly
solitary poet], Tankashinbunsha, Tokyo.
Kno, Kenji (1997), Kikuchi Kan and Irish Theatre [Kan Kikuchi and Irish dramas],
ire (Ireland-Japan Society), 17, pp.4356.
Macleod, Fiona (1924), Azarashi [The Seal], translated by Mineko Matsumura,
Kokoro no hana, 28, (12), pp.1116.



Macleod, Fiona (1925), Kanashiki jy-: Fiona Makuraudo tanpensh [The sad queen:
a collection of Fiona Macleods short stories], translated by Mineko Matsumura,
Daiichishob, Tokyo.
Macleod, Fiona (1989), Kanashiki jy-: Keruto genso sakuhinsh [The sad queen: a collection of Celtic fantastic stories], translated by Mineko Matsumura, Chsekisha,
Macleod, Fiona (1991), Keruto minwasy [A collection of Celtic folk tales], translated
by Hiroshi Aramata, Chikumashobo, Tokyo.
Macleod, Fiona (2005), Kanashiki jy-: Celt genso sakuhinsh [The sad queen: a collection of Celtic fantastic stories], translated by Mineko Matsumura, Chikumashob,
Matsui, Yuko (2001), Sukottorando to 19seikimatsu Keruto fukkund: Fiona
Makuraudo koto Uiriamu Sypu no baai [Scotland and the Celtic Revival at
the fin de sicle: the case of William Sharp or Fiona Macleod, in Ch daigaku
Jinbunkagaku Kenkyjyo (ed), Keruto fukk [Celtic revivals], Ch University
Press, Tokyo, pp.473505.
Matsumura, Mineko (ed. and trans.) (1925a), Airurando gikyokush [A collection of
Irish dramas], vol. 1, Genbunsha, Tokyo.
Matsumura, Mineko (1925b), afterword, in Airurando gikyokush [A collection of Irish
dramas], vol. 1, Genbunsha, Tokyo, pp.18. (The main text is also given Arabic
page numbers.)
Matsumura, Mineko (1921), appendix in Sharp, William, 1921, p.34.
Noguchi, Yone (2006), Lines, in Katayama/ Matsumura, 2006, pp.25.
Sasaki, Yukitsuna (2006), Kaisetsu: Katayama Hiroko no kychi [Explanatory
notes: the position of Hiroko Katayama] in Katayama/ Matsumura, 2006,
Sharp, Elizabeth A. (2004), William Sharp (Fiona Macleod): A Memoir, 1912, University Press of the Pacific, Honolulu.
Sharp, Mrs. William (1910), bibliographical notes in Sharp, William, 1910b, pp.4489.
Sharp, William (1910a), The Dominion of Dreams and Under the Dark Star, the works
of Fiona Macleod, vol. 3, arranged by Elizabeth A. Sharp, Heinemann, London.
Sharp, William (1910b), The Sin-Eater, the Washer of the Ford and Other Legendary
Moralities, the works of Fiona Macleod, vol. 2, arranged by Elizabeth A. Sharp,
Heinemann, London.
Sharp, William (1921), Ichinen no yume [A one-year dream], translated by Mineko
Matsumura, Kokoro no hana, 25, (1), pp.2834.
Shimokusu, Masaya (2010), Notes for the studies ofMineko Matsumuras translations
of the works of Fiona Macleod, Shury (English Literary Society of Doshisha
University), 72, pp.5162.

True poetic comrades


Tsuruoka, Mayumi (2004), Kaisetsu: hirugaeru nishoku Hiroko to Mineko [Explanatory notes: waving two colours, Hiroko and Mineko], in Hiroko Katayama/
Mineko Matsumura, Tkasetsu [Candlemas], Getsuysha, Tokyo, pp.739802.
Yamada, Tomomi (2007), Kikuchi Kans perception of Ireland, in: ire (IrelandJapan Society), 27, pp.5774.

Appendix 1
Chronology of Mineko Matsumuras Translations of Anglo-Irish Literature and Fiona
Macleod. (This chronology is based on and expands upon Fujita, 1965 and Imura,
2005. The titles of anthologies below are translated into English.)
Lady Gregory, The Full Moon in tanka magazine Kokoro no hana, vol. 18, no. 1
G.B. Shaw, The Dark Lady of the Sonnets in Kokoro no hana, vol. 19, no. 1
J.M. Synge, In the Shadow of the Glen in Kokoro no hana, vol. 19, no. 8
G.B. Shaw, Captain Brassbounds Conversion (Publication form unknown)
G.B. Shaw, Press Cutting in Kokoro no hana, vol. 20, no. 1
Lord Dunsany, King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior in literary magazine
Mitabungaku, vol. 7, no. 8

W.B. Yeats, The Old Men of the Twilight in Mitabungaku, vol. 7, no. 9

Lord Dunsany, short story The Bride of the Man-Horse in Mitabungaku,
vol. 7, no. 11
1917 G.B. Shaw, Androcles and the Lion in Kokoro no hana, vol. 21, no. 1

Lord Dunsany, After the Fire, and four other stores in Mitabungaku, vol. 8,
no. 2

J.M. Synge, The Playboy of the Western World, Tkydshoten, Tokyo.

William Sharp, The Sad Queen and The Laughter of Scathach the Queen
in Mitabungaku, vol. 8, no. 5
1918 Lord Dunsany, The Gods of the Mountain in Kokoro no hana, vol. 22, no. 1

Lord Dunsany, The Tents of the Arabs in Mitabungaku, vol. 9, no. 4
1919 Lord Dunsany, The Queens Enemies in Kokoro no hana, vol. 10, no. 9
1920 W.B. Yeats, three poems from The Wild Swans at Coole in Mitabungaku,
vol. 11, no. 12
1921 William Sharp, The Birds of Emar in Kokoro no hana, vol. 25, no. 1

Two Irish ballads translated by Lady Gregory in Mitabungaku, vol. 12, no. 6

Collected Works of Lord Dunsany, Keiseishashoten, Tokyo




1922 Lord Dunsany, short story The Prayer of Boob Aheera in poetry magazine
Myjy, vol. 1, no. 7

Padraic Colum, short story The Sad Sequel to Puss in Boots in Mitabungaku,
vol. 13, no. 5

W.B. Yeats, Calvary in drama critic magazine Geki to hyron, vol. 1, no. 1

Collected Works of Irish Drama, vol. 1, Genbunsha, Tokyo
1923 Lord Dunsany, short story Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley in
Kokoro no hana, vol. 27, no. 4

Collected Works of Synge, Shinchsha, Tokyo
1924 Padraic Colum, The Miracle of The Corn in Kokoro no hana, vol. 28, no. 1

Anthology of British and Irish Drama, Selected Works of Modern Drama,
vol. 9, Kindaigekitaikeikankkai, Tokyo.

Fiona Macleod, The Moon Child in Kokoro no hana, vol. 28, no. 12
1925 Fiona Macleod, the 1st part of The Harping of Cravetheen in Kokoro no hana,
vol. 29, no. 1

Fiona Macleod, the 2nd part of The Harping of Cravetheen in Kokoro no
hana, vol. 29, no. 2

Fiona Macleod, The Sad Queen, Daiichishob, Tokyo
1927 Anthology of Irish Drama, Selected Works of Modern Drama, vol. 25,
Daiichishob, Tokyo
1928 Selected Works of British Drama, Anthology of World Literature, vol. 33,
Shinchsha, Tokyo (including two plays of Synge)

Liam OFlaherty, short story The Wild Sow in literary magazine
Nyoningeijyutu, vol. 1, no. 1

Selected Works of Irish Drama, Anthology of World Dramas, vol. 9,
Sekaigikyokuzensykankkai, Tokyo
1929 Anthology of Modern Drama, Selected Works of World Literature, vol. 35,
Shinchsha, Tokyo (including Lord Dunsanys The Gods of the Mountain)
1930 Anthology of British Drama, Selected Works of Modern Drama, vol. 39,
Daiichishob, Tokyo (including two plays of G.B. Shaw)
1947 Irish Folk Legends, Iwanamishoten, Tokyo
1948 W.B. Yeats, The Hawks Well, Kadokawashoten, Tokyo (with Cathleen N
Houlihan and The Land of Hearts Desire)
1951 J.M. Synge, Riders to the Sea, Kadokawashoten, Tokyo (with The Playboy of
the Western World)
1989 Fiona Macleod, The Sad Queen, Chsekisha, Tokyo
1991 Collected Dramas of Lord Dunsany, Chsekisha, Tokyo
2005 Fiona Macleod, The Sad Queen, Chikumashob, Tokyo


True poetic comrades

Appendix 2
Contents of Matsumuras Translation, The Sad Queen
Titles of Original Stories

Titles of Translation

1. The Moon Child

(The third episode of The Three Marvels of Hy)


2. The Laugher of Scathach the Queen

Jy- Scathach no warai

3. The Last Supper

Saigo no bansan

4. The King of Ys and Dahut the Red

Kami akaki Dahut

5. The Sabbath of the Fishes and the Flies

Sakana to hae no
(The second episode of The Three Marvels of Hy) shukujitsu
6. The Fisher of Men


7. Cathal of the Woods


8. The Birds of Emar

(Only the first section of the story is translated.)


9. The Harping of Cravetheen


10. The Washer of the Ford

Asase ni arau onna

11. The Song of the Sword

Ken no uta

12. The Sad Queen

Kanashiki jy-

Except for no. 8, all the stories in the list above are from vol. 2 of the Uniform edition of
the Collected Works of Fiona Macleod, arranged by Mrs. William Sharp (Heinemann,
London, 1910). No. 8 is the story from vol. 3 of the Uniform edition of the Collected



The contents of vol. 2 of the Uniform edition of the Collected Works of Fiona Macleod
are as follows:
The tales marked * were not included in the original editions of
Prologue From Iona
The Sin-Eater
The Ninth Wave
The Judgment o God
The Harping of Cravetheen
Silk o the Kine
*Ula and Urla
Legendary Moralities:
1. The Washer of the Ford
2. St. Bride of the Isles
3. The Fisher of Men
4. The Last Supper
5. The Dark Nameless One
6. The Three Marvels of Hy
7. The Woman with the Net
Cathal of the Woods
1. The Song of the Sword
2. The Flight of the Culdees
3. Mircath
*4. The Sad Queen
5. The Laughter of Scathach the Queen
*6. Ahz the Pale
*7. The King of Ys and Dahut the Red
Bibliographical Note (Sharp, William, 1910b, pp.viiviii)


Coming Clean about the Red and the Green:

Celtic Communism in Maclean, MacDiarmid
and MacLean Again

From Sorley Boy MacDonnell to Sorley MacLean

One of the great opponents of English rule in Ireland in the sixteenth century was Sorley Boy MacDonnell (Somhairle Buidhe MacDhomhnaill).
Sorley Boy, according to the New DNB, was:
the sixth and youngest son of Alastair or Alexander MacDonald of Dunyvaig and the
Glens (d. 1536x9), chieftain, of clan Iain Mhir or clan Donald south in Scotland, and
his wife, Katherine or Caitirfhiona, daughter of John MacIan, lord of Ardnamurchan.
He was called Boy (Gaelic, Buidhe [yellow]) because of his fair hair. During Sorleys
youth his father, a cousin of John MacDonald, fourth lord of the Isles, built up a
power base for his family in both Scotland and Ulster, receiving land grants on Islay,
Colonsay, and Kintyre from Colin Campbell, third earl of Argyll, and his brother
in 1519. (McDonnell, 2008)

Sorley Boy MacDonnell was one of the MacDonnells of Antrim, part of

the two-way traffic between Scotland and Ireland that was transformed by
the Anglo-Scottish Union of Crowns in 1603 and the Ulster Plantation of
1609 that followed on the heels of that rapprochement between two old
enemies and sundering of two old friends. Sorley also bears the same name
as the third figure in the triptych we are offering here, three twentiethcentury Scots with a keen interest in Irish affairs: John Maclean, Hugh
MacDiarmid and Sorley Maclean.



Irelands Tragedy, Scotlands Disgrace (1920):

John Maclean and the Greening of Red Clydeside
Praised by Lenin and Gramsci, dramatised by Freddy Andersons Krassivy
(first staged in 1979; published in 2005) and John McGraths Little Red Hen
(first staged in 1977; published in 2008), John Maclean (18791923) is a
formidable figure in Scottish radical history, yet a neglected and overlooked
one, as David Howells ground breaking study, A Lost Left: Three Studies in
Socialism and Nationalism (1986), amply illustrates (the other two figures,
also with Celtic connections, are Edinburgh-born James Connolly and
Waterford-born John Wheatley). In Hugh MacDiarmids poem Krassivy,
Krassivy, this Russian word, meaning both beautiful and red, recalls
MacDiarmids famous early lyric, The Bonnie Broukit Bairn: Mars is braw
in cramasie, / Venus in a green silk goun (MacDiarmid, 1978: 1, 6045).
The street in Saint Petersburg which bore John Macleans name as Maklin
Prospekt while that city was called Leningrad, has now gone back to its
original name, Angliyskiy Prospekt English Street.
According to Owen Dudley Edwards, we have to look for [Connollys]
immediate heirs not among the Irish republicans but with such figures as
John Maclean of Scotland (Edwards, 1979: 424). Many Irish and Scottish
socialists had cross-cultural connections and cross-water connections.
They included Willie Gallacher (18811965), born in the Irish ghetto of
Sneddon, Paisley in 1881, who played a key role in founding the Communist
party of Great Britain in 192021; and Ulster Scots Socialists like William
Walker (18711918), the Belfast Protestant who challenged Connolly, and
David Davy Robb Campbell (1874/51934), the Belfast Protestant who
supported Connolly. John Wheatley (18691930) is another key crossover
figure. Born in Bonhamon, Co. Waterford, in 1869, his family moved to
Bargeddie, near Glasgow, in 1876. Wheatley became a leading Scottish
socialist, joining the Independent Labour Party in 1906, and founding the
Catholic Socialist Society in the same year. The Dublin Lock-out of 1913
and the Glasgow Rent Strike of 1915 showed solidarity across the water
(Smith, 1984: 37). Speaking in March 1918, Cathal OShannon claimed

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


that: Glasgow and Dublin are the two cities in these countries that lead
the van in the militant army of Labour, and from them, if from nowhere
else, we may expect a bold lead (Cited Young, 1990: 30).
According to James Hunter: Both Connolly and MacLean the two
most outstanding Marxist revolutionaries so far produced in these islands
were born to Gaelic-speaking parents. And they devoted no small part of
their considerable abilities to reconcile socialism with the nationalisms of
their respective countries (Hunter, 1975: 198). In the aftershock of Easter
1916, and after a spell in prison for breaching the Defence ofthe Realm Act,
Maclean moved closer to Connollys views. James D. Young has tracked
the emergence of a new IrishScottish form of class struggle arising out
of colonial conflict: An epoch-making event in Irish workers history, the
Belfast dockers and carters strike of 1907 marked the beginning of the
Glasgow, Belfast and Dublin socialist triangle. It also saw the development of a firm and warm friendship between Maclean and Larkin (Young,
1990: 24). Maclean was closer to Larkin and Skeffington than Connolly.
According to Young: The role of Forward in providing Maclean, Connolly
and Larkin with space to expound their views testified to the developing
links between the left ofthe Scottish and Irish workers movements (Young,
1990: 26). This IrishScottish nexus was at its most intense in the years
leading up to Irish Independence/Partition: In America, Larkin predicted
that the Irish working class would resist the draft. In what was probably
his first public identification with the agitation of the Irish in Scotland for
the complete independence of Ireland, John Wheatley, together with Neil
Maclean and Agnes Dollan, opposed the introduction of conscription.
Though John Maclean did not come out of prison until December 1918,
the Voice of Labour reported on the growing militancy of the Scottish and
Irish workers (Young, 1990: 30).
That growing militancy was a cross-water dialogue: From 1 May, 1919,
Maclean was committed to the Irish cause as a part of a worldwide antiimperialist struggle. When he, John Wheatley, and Countess Markievicz
spoke at the Glasgow May Day in the presence of 100,000 workers, Irish
tricolours were openly carried among the crowd and the Soldiers Song
was sung along with the Red Flag (Young, 1990: 31). Gavin Foster notes
that when Maclean visited Dublin for the first time in July 1919, he was



exposed to the large British military build-up in Ireland and was forced
to confront several of his ideological blind spots on the Irish Question
(Foster, 2008: 34).
In 1920, Maclean wrote one of the most forceful pamphlets on the
Irish situation of the period, The Irish Tragedy: Scotlands Disgrace (1920),
to which the postscript read: Since writing this pamphlet the Glasgow
Herald in a leader on Tuesday, June 8, 1920, entitled The Army in Ireland,
gloats over the fact that Scots regiments are pouring into Ireland and others
are held in readiness. It seems the Scots are being used to crush the Irish.
Let Labour effectively reply (Maclean, 1920). In his General Election
Address of 1922, standing in the Gorbals, Maclean declared: When Jim
Connolly saw how things were going in Edinburgh he resolved on the Easter
Rebellion in Dublin, the beginning of Irelands new fight for freedom, a
fight that can only end in an Irish workers republic based on communism
(Maclean, 1922). Connolly had spoken in Glasgow on 15 October 1910, so
he was certainly attuned to events there.
Young confirms Macleans views on Connollys awareness of Scottish
developments in the run-up to Easter 1916: Connolly was aware of what was
happening on Red Clydeside. In the 20 November 1915 issue of the Workers
Republic, he attacked the suppression of Free Speech in Scotland At
much the same time, he published an article entitled Glasgow Gaels Will
Fight in which he reported on a meeting in the Sinn Fein Hall, London
Street, Glasgow In an article on Scots Labour Men and Lloyd George,
Connolly published a report in the Workers Republic saying that the majority of Clydeside workers at the famous meeting in Glasgow were anti-war
(Young, 1990: 267). Connollys intimate knowledge ofthe Scottish scene
was mirrored by the growing activism of other IrishScots increasingly
exercised by events across the water.

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


Scottish Writers in Praise of Connolly and Maclean

According to David Lloyd, one of a number of critics to revisit Connollys
work in recent years: There is no doubt that the concept of Celtic communism lends itself potentially to an idealizing nationalism that seeks to trace
in the past the contours of a benevolent and undegraded national spirit.
But Connollys deployment of the concept in Labour and Irish History,
The Reconquest of Ireland and elsewhere, though a consistent element of
his socialist project, is if anything precisely opposed to such idealizing
(Lloyd, 2003: 351). The phrase reconquest of Ireland was given a Gaelic
dimension in the words of the modernist Irish-language novelist and IRA
volunteer Mirtn Cadhain, S an Ghaeilge athghabhil na hireann
agus is athghabhil na hireann sln na Gaeilge (The Irish language
is the reconquest of Ireland and the reconquest of Ireland is saving the
Irish language). Cadhain called for ire a bheas n h amhin Gaelach
ach saor agus n h amhin saor agus Gaelach ach arb ire Shamais
U Chonaola , Poblacht na n-Oibrithe (an Ireland that will not only
be Gaelic but free and not only free and Gaelic but the Ireland of James
Connolly, the Workers Republic). Several Scottish writers have certainly
drawn inspiration from Connolly as an activist rather than an idealist.
According to Chris Harvie, Hugh MacDiarmid had several streams running through him, one of them Ireland and the Easter Rising of 1916, where
poets had apparently changed a nation. Harvie points out that to younger
Scottish socialists like MacDiarmid, politicised by the war and the industrial struggles of the Red Clyde, Connolly became a hero (Harvie, 1999:
14). Sorley MacLean was another great admirer. His lines on Connollys
shirt in the National Museum of Ireland Ard-Mhusaeum na h-Eireann
(The National Museum of Ireland) testify to his sense of Connolly as a
bridging figure between an Ireland and Scotland divided by England (N
Annrachin, 1991: 456).
In the short story collection, If You Liked School, Youll Love Work
(2007), Irvine Welsh has a character say of a stirring speech that it was
Pure James Connolly or John McLean [sic], and he alludes to Willie



Gallagher [sic] and the Soviet Socialist Peoples Republic of Fife (Welsh,
2007: 3712). James Kelman is another Scottish writer who acknowledges
Connolly and Maclean as relatively unsung Scottish socialists, pointing
to the lost legacy of the left nationalism of the early twentieth century, a
nationalism that was thoroughly internationalist in outlook: Now its just
assumed that if you are not parliamentarian, then you have no politics, and
thats a really extraordinary reaction to what started happening about a hundred years ago when the debate was much more sophisticated politically,
and there was such a great divergence amongst socialists. It was probably
valid to have a belief in self-determination, to have a position like James
Connolly or John MacLean (Cited Toremans, 2003: 5767). Elsewhere,
Kelman speaks of the way the Irish question dropped out of sight in Scottish
political culture: Part of the extraordinary thing is the marginalisation of
Irish politics in relation to Scottish radical history. I would say that you
cannot get an understanding of radical politics, probably throughout the
UK, but certainly in Scotland, without understanding the significance of
Irish politics as well James Connolly was actually an Edinburgh man,
hes Scottish. He didnt go to Ireland until his early twenties (cited Harris,
2009: 23). Actor and film director Peter Mullan observed in a recent interview: What stunned me when I was over in Ireland was how few people
had a clue that he was Scottish and that the tricolour was down to him
(Archibald, 2005: 11). Maclean has fared no better. In James Robertsons
magisterial political novel, And the Land Lay Still, Maclean is a figure who
haunts the Scottish landscape but whose radical rhetoric appears out of
place in a post-war culture of compromise and class collaboration:
The Scots were the same as the English, just less civilised, more indecipherable.
Their culture was non-existent if you discounted Burns Night, their politics a joke,
parish-pump stuff. Once maybe, when Glasgow was second city of the Empire and
Clydeside was Red, Scottish politics might have mattered. John Maclean: We are
in the rapids of revolution. Not in 1963. By then the tanks in George Square were a
fading legend. (Robertson, 2010: 269).

A lost left of fading legends that is how Connolly and Maclean are perceived in a period of somnolence and reaction.

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


Red Clydeside, Green Clydeside

The key to Celtic Communism lies in a radical critique of colonialism
developed by the likes of Lenin, but also the ideas around primitive communism mapped out earlier by Engels. According to David Lloyd:
we can begin to understand Connollys apparently paradoxical assertion that,
although the Irish were politically behind the English and Scottish, a separate Irish
labour movement would allow for the organization of Irish workers on a more
revolutionary basis than was usual in England and Scotland Irelands relative backwardness becomes the means to a more revolutionary organization than is possible in
the more advanced political culture of Great Britain, precisely because it offers the
possibility of an alternative counter-culture. The pivotal element in this direction of
Connollys theory is also its most easily misconceived; that is, the concept of Gaelic
or Celtic communism Deriving almost certainly from Friedrich Engels Origins
of the Family, Private Property and the State, Connollys conception of the primitive
communism of the Gaelic clans, and of Celtic society in general is specically
seen as a moment in the historical development of early society. (Lloyd, 2003: 351)

The Irish Diaspora in the wake of Famine was a key driver for political
change and the force behind a new international radicalism, as Marx and
Engels had recognised in their writings on Ireland. Likewise, Catherine
Morris observes that:
The huge numbers of Irish emigrants living in countries all over the world represented for Connolly the international worker. For instance, he appealed directly
to Edinburghs working classes through its large Irish population when he stood
as the first Socialist candidate for the Scottish Socialist Federation in the municipal elections of October 1894. His election address made clear the transnational
dimensions of his political ethic, refusing a separation that was based on national
identity or interest: The Irish worker who starves in an Irish cabin and the Scots
worker who is poisoned in an Edinburgh garret are brothers with one hope and
one destiny The same Liberal Government which supplies police to Irish landlords to aid them in the work of exterminating their Irish peasantry, also imports
police into Scotland to aid Scots mine owners in their work of starving the Scottish
miners. (Morris, 2008: 103)



Chris Harvie outlines the IrishScottish radical milieu from which sprang
figures such as Hugh MacDiarmid, a seedbed of revolutionary thought:
The phrase Liberal-imperial would have captured the ethos of Scots culture in 1914.
But a war that saw Scots Haig, Bonar Law, the Geddes brothers in key positions
slaughtered a disproportionate number of their compatriots and distorted their
industry: after 1920 the workshop of the world soon became that distressed area.
Organic cosmopolitanism was sidelined as the new literati turned to nationalism
and science while industry crumbled. Responses varied from unionist collectivism
to the intellectual nationalism of the Scottish Renaissance revived by the poet
Christopher Grieve: alias Hugh MacDiarmid. He had several streams running
through him, one of them Ireland and the Easter Rising of 1916, where poets had
apparently changed a nation. One of the Risings executed leaders, the socialist trade
unionist James Connolly, was born in Edinburgh and had been the Irish correspondent of Forward, which was baffled by his self-sacrifice; but to younger Scottish socialists like MacDiarmid, politicised by the war and the industrial struggles of the Red
Clyde, Connolly became a hero. An ethnic nation, of the sort which proliferated
after Versailles in 1919, was the new goal. (Harvie, 1999: 14)

Belfast poet John Hewitt (190787), author of The Bloody Brae (1936),
about vexed relations between Scottish settlers and natives in the north of
Ireland, wrote poems in praise of Connolly in his youth (Walsh 1999), and
Scottish poets too found inspiration in Scottish socialist revolutionaries
like Connolly and Maclean.

Hugh MacDiarmid: John Maclean (18791923)

John Maclean was a crucial figure in the political imagination of the poet
Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Murray Grieve). MacDiarmid founded
the Voice of Scotland (first issue dated June-August 1938), a quarterly magazine supporting Scottish Republicanism and the Leninist line in regard
to Scotland of the late John Maclean, and the detailed analysis of Scottish
issues in the light of dialectical materialism (quoted in MacLean 2002:
198). As Alan Riach explains:

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


This is not a Communist periodical, the magazines first editorial began, although
the editor is a member of the Communist Party. But it will be restricted to left-wing
writers, and may be defined as left in tendency [] our principal aim is advocacy of
Independent Workers Republicanism la John Maclean! (Riach, 2011: 43)

Recalling his father, MacDiarmids son Michael reminds us that One ofthe
founders of the National Party of Scotland (later to merge with the Scottish
Party and become the Scottish National Party), he was expelled for his
Communist sympathies, and later expelled from the Communist Party for
being a Nationalist (MacDiarmid, 2004, xxiii). Often presented as evidence
of MacDiarmids eccentricity, of his desire, in the words of the intoxicated
narrator ofhis famous long poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle to aye
be whaur / Extremes meet (MacDiarmid, 2004: 30), MacDiarmids failure
to find a settled political home suggests the different path that Scottish
political life might have taken had nationalism and socialism in Scotland
not become so separate. The Scottish Labour Party, which preceded the
Independent Labour Party before it too effectively merged with British
Labour, was founded by Keir Hardie, and Cunninghame Grahame, future
founder with MacDiarmid of the National Party of Scotland, on a proindependence platform. The meeting which formed the Scottish Labour
Party, in Glasgow in May 1888, was chaired by John Murdoch (18181903),
a Gaelic-speaking journalist and land-rights campaigner from Perthshire
who had lived in Dublin in 1853. But these two paths diverged, a process
cemented by the founding of the Communist Party of Great Britain and
the failure to establish a separate Scottish organisation, leading to a polarisation in Scottish politics still evident today.
MacDiarmid joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1934,
a year after his expulsion from the National Party of Scotland which
merged with the Scottish Party to become the SNP later in the same year
and the beginning of his geographical exile to Whalsay, in the Shetland
Islands. For Scott Lyall
By the mid to late 1930s MacDiarmid sought Scottish liberation through Celtic
communism, a position personified for the poet by the Scottish revolutionary John
Maclean, who in 1918 was appointed Scotlands Bolshevik consul. (Lyall, 2011: 74)



1934 also saw the publication of Stony Limits and Other Poems, the death
of MacDiarmids mother and would be followed by the onset of a nervous
breakdown the following year. MacDiarmids poem on Maclean, though
written in 1934, had to wait until Stony Limits was republished in 1956
to be included alongside better-known items, such as the great philosophical poem of MacDiarmids Shetlandic exile, On a Raised Beach.
John Maclean (18791923) praises Macleans courage in the face of the
imprisonment in 1918 that caused his health to deteriorate, hastening his
death five years later:
All the buildings in Glasgow are grey
With cruelty and meanness of spirit,
But once in a while one greyer than the rest
A song shall merit
Since a miracle of true courage is seen
For a moment its walls in between.
Look at it, you fools, with unseeing eyes
And deny it with lying lips!
But your craven bowels well know what it is
And hasten to eclipse
In a cell, as black as the shut boards of the Book
You lie by, the light no coward can brook.
It is not the blue of heaven that colours
The blue jowls of your thugs of police,
And justice may well do its filthy work
Behind walls as filthy as these
And congratulate itself blindly and never know
The prisoner takes the light with him as he goes below.
Stand close, stand close, and block out the light
As long as you can, you ministers and lawyers,
Hulking brutes of police, fat bourgeoisie,
Sleek derma for congested guts its fires
Will leap through yet; already it is clear
Of all Macleans foes not one was his peer.

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


As Pilate and the Roman soldiers to Christ

Were Law and Order to the finest Scot of his day,
One of the few true men in our sordid breed,
A flash of sun in a country all prison-grey.
Speak to the others of Christian charity; I cry again
For vengeance on the murderers of John Maclean.
Let the light of truth in on the base pretence
Of justice that sentenced him behind these grey walls.
All law is the contemptible fraud he declared it.
Like a lightning-bolt at last the workers wrath falls
On such castles of cowards whether they be
Uniformed in ermine, or blue, or khaki.
Royal honours for murderers and fools! The fount of honour
Is poisoned and spreads its corruption all through,
But Scotland will think yet of the broken body
And unbreakable spirit, Maclean, of you,
And know you were indeed the true tower of its strength,
As your prison of its foul stupidity, at length. (Riach and Grieve, 1993: 1612)

For Lyall, in this poem MacLean is Christ-like. With its angry, direct,
soapbox-prophet style of delivery, John Maclean (19871923) demonstrates how easily MacDiarmids declarative poetry can be confused with
class propaganda (Lyall, 2011: 74). Yet there is little to confuse readers in
this poem by MacDiarmid for whom the term propaganda would not
have carried the same pejorative ring it has for Lyall here. MacDiarmids
intention to include this piece of agitprop alongside On a Raised Beech in
Stony Limits is in keeping with the catholicity of his poetics in this period.
In his attitude to Maclean, MacDiarmid comes close to the poignant praise
of Joyce and Yeats for an Irishman with a Scottish name, Charles Stewart
Parnell (Maley, 2007). Despite its authors willingness once again to be
whaur extremes meet in poetic as well as political terms, this poem, with its
incitement to violence against the officials of the British state, had to wait
another twenty years, until the febrile atmosphere of the 1930s had passed.
In a recent essay on Louis MacNeice, John Kerrigan maps out the
historical moment when Scottish writers engaged with Ireland as a source
of literary and political energy:



This appeal to Ireland is typical of the Scottish Renaissance, especially for such participants as MacDiarmid and Compton Mackenzie who were active in nationalist
politics. They saw in the Free State a template for Scottish independence, and in the
role of poets in the Irish struggle an attractive model for themselves. Admiring James
Connolly and John MacLean (Scots steel tempered wi Irish fire / Is the weapon I
desire), MacDiarmid hoped for the establishment of a string of Celtic Soviet republics
from Scotland to Brittany. Mackenzie, a nostalgic Jacobite, harked back to the old
ways of Irish and Scottish Gaeldom, and discussed, unsatisfactorily, an alliance with
De Valera. In 1930 he and MacDiarmid attracted the attention ofthe Special Branch
because of their involvement in Clan Albainn, a shadowy organisation inspired by
Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. (Kerrigan, 2011: 61)

Leaving aside the fact that from another perspective Special Branch itself
may be viewed as a shadowy organisation, Kerrigans scrupulously argued
essay marks a new high-point in IrishScottish studies, sensitively teasing
out the tangled strands of culture, history and politics. MacNeice emerges
in Kerrigans capable hands as a major figure for anyone interested in the
IrishScottish paradigm, and someone, as he suggests who should be read
alongside or against MacDiarmid. Kerrigans allusion to the old ways of
Irish and Scottish Gaeldom leads us neatly onto Sorley Maclean, another
of the Macs who liked to mix with the Micks.

Sorley MacLean and Gaelic Socialism

The occlusion of John Maclean, and his Edinburgh counterpart Connolly,
from accounts of Scottish political and literary history is not simply a
result of political amnesia or selective memory. Specific acts of censorship
and suppression, carried out with or without the collusion of the authors
under discussion meant that analysis of Maclean in their work was, as in the
case of MacDiarmids John Maclean (19871923) deferred until the dust
had begun to settle on decades of agitation. A similar process of defusing
through deferral can be seen in the work of the Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean
(Somhairle MacGill-Eain, 191196). As for MacDiarmid, John Maclean

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


was a crucial figure in Sorley MacLeans poetic and political imagination.

Christopher Whyte writes that Sorley MacLean felt a personal connection
with this working-class hero and martyr (MacLean, 2002: 161). In a letter
to Douglas Young, dated 7 September 1941, MacLean wrote, No Seceder
minister showed the least trace of saint-like qualities, but I occasionally
heard hints from two of my uncles that they had come into contact with
a saint and a hero John Maclean (MacLean, 2002: 142). He provided
the link Sorley needed between the history of Gaelic peasant resistance to
the oppression of previous centuries and the proletarian radicalism of his
own time. John Macleans background the descendent of Gaelic-speaking
crofters from the Isle of Mull made him a perfect candidate to fulfil this
role in Sorley MacLeans poetry. Their shared surname, more than merely a
helpful coincidence, allowed the poet to propose a new kind of clan history:
Chan e iadsan a bhsaich
an rdan Inbhir-Chitein
dhaindeoin gaisge is uabhair
ceann uachdrach ar sgeula;
ach esan bha n Glaschu,
ursann-chatha nam feumach,
Iain mr MacGill-Eain,
Ceann is fitheam ar sgeula. (Clann Ghill-Eain, MacLean, 1999: 46)
Not they who died
in the hauteur of Inverkeithing
in spite of valour and pride
the high head of our story;
but he who was in Glasgow
the battle-post of the poor
great John MacLean
the top and hem of our story. (Trans. Sorley MacLean)

MacLean regards his namesakes heroism here as superior to that displayed

at the Battle of Inverkeithing, fought between Scottish Covenanters and
English parliamentarians on 20 July 1651. Writing again to Douglas Young
on 30 March 1942, MacLean tells Young that he wrote the two things on
John Maclean in November or December 1939, while he was stationed in



Hawick (MacLean, 2002: 139). Yet Clann Ghill-Eain had to wait several
decades before it eventually appeared in print. The other poem, Do n
bhreitheamh a thubhairt ri Iain Mac Ghill-Eathain gum b e gealtair a bh
ann (To the judge who told John Maclean he was a coward), appeared in
MacLeans 1943 volume Din do Eimhir agus Din Eile among the Other
Poems that accompanied MacLeans famous sequence of love poetry:
Chuala mi gireachdaich nan reultan,
lasganaich gealaich agus grine,
mothar a chruinne-c s e g iathadh
luine s farsaingeachd na bliadhna.
Gireachdaich, lasganaich is isgeachd
bho mhullaichean gorma anns na speuran,
mothal gire aig na bistean
a magadh ortsa, mo cho-chreutair. (MacLean, 2011: 162)
I heard the laughter of the stars, the pealing laughter of sun and moon, the muffled
laughter of the universe encircling the bareness and expansiveness of the year.
Laughter, peals of laughter, from blue summits in the skies, belly-laughter of the
brutes mocking you, my fellow creature. (Trans. Sorley MacLean)

Here, Sorley MacLeans choice of Gaelic may have provided the cover
he needed to publish a poem in praise of John Macleans anti-war stance
at the height of the Second World War. 1939 was also the date of Sorley
MacLeans long political poem, An Cuilithionn (The Cuillin), dedicated
to Hugh MacDiarmid and to the eighteenth-century Gaelic poet Alasdair
MacDonald (Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair). Like MacDiarmids poem
on John Maclean, An Cuilithionn had to wait many years before its eventual publication, in redacted form, between 1987 and 1989. The poem has
only recently in 2011 appeared in its full original form. In his introduction to the poem in his collected volume O Choille gu Bearradh / From
Wood to Ridge, MacLean tells us that
When I was invalided out of the army in 1943 there was talk of publishing it, but
W.D. MacColls objections to almost every line of my own translations of it delayed
that until the behaviour of the Russian Government to the Polish insurrection in
1944 made me politically as well as aesthetically disgusted with most of it.
I reprint here what I think tolerable of it. (MacLean, 1999: 63)

Coming Clean about the Red and the Green


MacLeans most polemical and politically radical poem was absent from
the Scottish scene from its initial composition on the eve of the Second
World War until the final Chapman instalment was published in 1989,
the year the Berlin Wall fell. This absence contributed to the silence about
crucial elements of Scotlands radical history and, in particular, to those
elements that connected Scottish left-wing radicalism with revolution in
Ireland. References to both James Connolly and John Maclean feature
heavily throughout An Cuilithionn
S ged sgaoilteadh guth eile an ceathach,
Lenin, Marx no MacGill-Eain,
Thaelmann, Dimitrov, MacMhuirich,
Mao Tse Tung no a chuideachd,
bhthadh an caithream diabhlaidh
guth nan saoi is glaodh nam piantan.
S ged bhiodh neart is misneachd Stilin
agamsa ri uchd na h-mhghair,
chlaoidhteadh le sgread na fuaim mi
s an Cuilithionn mr a dol na thuaineal. (MacLean, 2002: 45)
And though another voice split the fog,
Lenin, Marx, Maclean,
Thaelman, Dimitrov, MacPherson,
Mao Tse Tung and his men,
the devilish revelry would drown
the voice of the wise and cry of the tortured.
And though in the face of distress
I had the strength and courage of Stalin,
the screeching noise would oppress me
while the great Cuillin reeled dizzily. (Trans. Sorley MacLean)

When An Cuilithionn was finally published in instalments in Chapman,

MacLean removed the couplet in praise of Stalin. While in 1939, MacLean
felt able to mention the Soviet dictator in the same breath as his Red
Clydeside hero, by the time the poem came to be published half a century
later, this no longer seemed palatable.
As Scotland debates its political future, a fuller understanding of
Scotlands recent political history becomes all the more essential. The



contribution of Scotlands writers to that history is crucial to any such

understanding. For John Maclean, Hugh MacDiarmid and Sorley MacLean,
literary and political activism went hand in hand. As socialists convinced
of the need for Scottish independence, all three looked to the emancipation struggles in Ireland for inspiration and solidarity. The subsequent
occlusion of this Irish influence from Scotlands twentieth-century history
and literature has led to blind-spots in our understanding of how political
thought developed in twentieth-century Scotland, and how Scottish writers contributed and were influenced by that development. Far from being
an exceptional case in the history of Britains imperial decline, each of the
three figures considered here viewed the national and socialist movements
in Scotland as part of an international struggle for workers emancipation
and national self-determination. For contemporary nationalists and socialists, and for students of Scottish, Irish and postcolonial literatures, making
the Celtic connection is essential for a proper understanding of our recent
past, and an informed debate about the future.

Anderson, Freddy (2005), Krassivy: A Play About the Great Socialist John Maclean,
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow.
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My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm

inHanna Bells December Bride

Sam Hanna Bells 1951 novel December Bride is set in a rural Presbyterian
community in the North of Ireland in the early twentieth century. The
narrative centres on the life of transgressive Sarah Gomartin, who comes
with her mother Martha to live with farmer Andrew Echlin and his two
sons, Hamilton and Frank. After their fathers death, she forms sexual
liaisons with both men, and bears two children out of wedlock. The plot
is drawn from Bells family background, so that the novel functions as a
fictional imagining of his ancestors, as well as a parable of the autodidactic Bells own progressive path. It cannot escape our notice as readers that
the composite surname Hanna Bell has a feminine ring to it, and while I
am not for a moment questioning either the writers gender or sexuality,
I am concerned here with exploring his adoption/adaption of a female
protagonist in December Bride, his first novel and his most famous work.
I will discuss the writers representation of the links between female, farm
and family in the text, concentrating specifically on the characterisation
of Sarah. The most remarkable passages are the ones in which the writer
ventriloquises this young woman, and her direct speech often functions
as a personal manifesto, a particularly female, and demonstrably feminist,
Declaration of Independence. The narrative is, for the most part, focalised
through her, with some digressions which I aim to demonstrate are the
authors own disruptive and occasionally self-contradictory voice.
Bell asserted that he modelled December Bride on the pattern of rural
life that had existed for three hundred years [] that remote and idyllic past
(McMahon, 1999: 8), and critics agree that this is a novel firmly rooted in
rural, Northern-IrishScots culture. James Simmonss prefatory comment
in the Blackstaff 1974 edition concurs: it goes to the heart of the Ulster



experience, the look and the feel of the place, and the nature of the people.
However, as Gillian McIntosh affirms, it is more than a pastoral portrait
of rural Ulster (1999: 196), in that it interrogates as much as it reflects that
culture. McIntosh, Caroline Magennis (2010) and others convincingly
demonstrate that the Unionist Loyalist tradition in the North of Ireland
is primarily self-defined as masculine and manly, in binary opposition
to a feminised, childlike representation of the Nationalist tradition. It is
interesting therefore, that the most active agent in Bells book is the young
woman Sarah Gomartin, who demonstrates and even embodies the vigour,
enterprise, dogged determination and much individuality that John Blake
attributes to Presbyterian-Scot settlers (McIntosh, 1999: 157).
As well as being the most active in a physical sense, Sarah is the most
vocal and outspoken character, and her dialogue conserves dialect. December
Bride is liberally sprinkled with Ulster-Scots terminology, drawing on the
writers own cultural heritage. As befits the work of a person integral to the
development of radio broadcasting in Ulster (McMahon, 1999: 192), this
novel showcases the unique voice of the region. Bell was born in Glasgow
in 1909 of a Scottish father and Ulster-Scots mother (McMahon, 1999: 4),
and when his father died in 1918, the boy was brought back to the grandparental home farm on the Ards peninsula in County Down. This period was
formative, and later referred to by the author as a terribly impressionable
three or four years (McIntosh, 1999: 196). In most critical assessments of
this novel, it is Bells maternal grandparents rural way of life that is seen as
the most significant influence on the novel set on their native peninsula.
However, there are other remarkable parallels between Sam Bells childhood and the life he creates for Sarah Gomartin. His independent-minded
widowed mother Jane resented being once more reliant on her father, and
moved to Belfast to take in sewing and lodgers (McMahon, 1999: 7). One
can see echoes of this independent-minded womanhood in the novel: the
self-reliant path carved by widowed Jane Bell and son are analogous to the
economically-dictated removal of Martha Gomartin and daughter from
the cottage at Banyil to the farm at Rathard. The redoubtable Sarah follows a path of self-improvement also trodden by her author, as it was by
his father, albeit in the mens case, in intellectual and cultural rather than
agricultural fields. Moreover, sewing skills are highlighted in December

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


Bride; Frank Echlin lusts after Sarah as she sits flowering (Bell, 1974: 23),
an Ulster-Scots dialect term for embroidering which carries within it an
image of the seamstresss blossoming sexuality. Indeed the novel itself is a
work of art which employs a craftsmans skill in its weaving together of the
common threads of country life and Protestant work-ethic, thus constituting a tapestry of the Ulster-Scots rural scene.
Naomi Doak points out that In the context of Ulster, where religious
divisions were deeply politicised, the audience for novels exploring alternative perspectives on female subjectivity seems to have been limited (Doak,
2008: 130). Doak is writing about female authors, but Bells December Bride
valiantly champions female subjectivity, and interestingly, Doak goes on
to discuss Bells role in fostering the writer Olga Fielden in his 1950s radio
work. This novel can be seen as an attempt to imaginatively address womens
role in a farming community which sometimes sought to silence them, or
to take their labour for granted. As I have discussed elsewhere (OByrne,
1992), womens contribution to the farm economy was much overlooked,
especially in the lifetime of Sam Hanna Bell, but in this novel the author
shows a real understanding of the crucial part females play in farming.
When Margaret Echlin dies, only then did her husband Andrew realise
what part she had filled in Rathard. It was as if the whole framework of
the farms daily life had been withdrawn (Bell, 1974: 17). Significantly, at
first it takes two women to replace her, though Sarah eventually becomes
the sole woman of the house.
From the outset, as befits her migratory and fatherless status, Sarah is
shown, like her mother, to be chiefly interested in finding a stable place in
the world. Martha Gomartin, however, takes a more passive role than her
daughter in carving out a niche at Ravara. With a defiant quick upward
lift of her head, she tells the recently widowed Andrew Gomartin that a
widows seat is aye a lonely seat (20), but as the text reveals, Sarahs father
has disappeared and his death, though rumoured, is not certain (50). Martha
is claiming the respectable mantle of widowhood rather than the potentially-shameful status of abandoned wife, but that is as close as she gets to
promoting herself, and it is actually her daughter who subsequently develops
a personal relationship with farmer Echlin, to the mothers discomfiture,
and arguably, jealousy. The narrator tells us that Sarah was impelled by a



trait in herself, not uncommon in those who have tasted poverty, which
made her prefer the father to the son, the master rather than the steward
(22). Yet, Martha her mother, similarly poor, demonstrates no such preference, and always felt uneasy when her daughter asked favours [of Andrew]
in such a self-assured way (25). Like her biblical namesake, Bells Martha
is forced to concede status to the woman who more directly engages the
masters attention.
As a young woman, urged by her scandalised mother to leave the now
parentless brothers house, Sarah makes a speech that is a manifesto for her
future: always (here she mimicked her mother cruelly) its be humble,
Sarah, God will reward ye. Well, Im tired o it. My ways are my own (50).
Its a declaration of independence, defying and separating herself from a
mother whom she accuses of talking o me as if I was a helpless wean.
Much of the novel centres on Sarahs hunger lust, even for the land,
and reveals her ambition to better herself in the liaison with the brothers.
She and her mother had come as servants and labourers to Rathard, and
now she at least, had attained the position of mistress in the Echlin household. It was not avarice, but the fear of returning to a life of drudgery that
filled her with hatred (64). Having declared autonomy from mother and
mother-church, Sarah will not accept rule by a lover either. Once embroiled
in a sexual relationship with Frank, she feels a great need to retract and
be free. However, she is shown to be yearning, not for some wild untrammelled liberty, but for freedom from financial instability: She wanted
to find her feet again (77). Status and stability are important to her; we
read that she has a hatred of subordination and its drudgery (656). Just
as she cultivates a closeness with Andrew Echlin when he is master, after
his death she is shown to judge the two men in the household in terms of
hierarchy, attempting to weigh her chances for her own future advantage
[]. She retracted and drew away from Frank a little, watching Hamilton
all the time (78). When she eventually begins a relationship with the older
brother, its on a day when he drives her to Belfast. She sits on his cart and
thinks it is pleasant [] to sit up here beside Hamilton, a strong farmer
going to market (86). The lexis up, strong signals the possibility that
Sarah can raise and fortify herself by association with Hamilton. They have

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


sex in the back of the same cart on the way home, thus beginning their relationship, which eventually outlasts Sarahs affair with the younger brother.
Akin to the Scottish settlers before her, once Sarah finds a foothold
in fertile farmland, she doggedly refuses to leave. She ensures the continuation of her line, and displaces Catholic neighbours, the Dineens, when
she persuades her menfolk to buy the property containing their rented cottage. She could arguably be seen as a coloniser, though she is far from the
stereotypical Irish concept of the landlords consort. Sarahs attachment to
her adopted place is shown to be both instinctive and proprietorial: When
Sarah went out in those grey unwakened mornings, scratching herself and
yawning, there was nothing she loved better than to isolate those fields,
trees, loanens and roofs that had passed into the hands of her and her men
(238). The woman here is portrayed as analogous to a newly-risen animal
in her corporeal scratching and yawning, but it is significant that in her
territorial gloating, the textual order places her before the male legal landowners. The narrative also places her consideration of their joint property
in an order worth noting: (1) cultivated land (fields); (2) natural growth
(trees); (3) loanens (man-made access routes to ones territory which in
rural tradition would often follow the paths first created by animal hooves);
and (4) last of all, human habitation (roofs). Sarahs bond with the earth
is thus shown to be primarily primordial, surpassing the mere requirement
of shelter over her head.
There is a significant theme of nature versus culture (that is, conventional religious, Presbyterian culture) in the text. The minister Sorleyson
visits Sarah after the birth of her first child, attempting to persuade her to
marry one of the two Echlin brothers. On his way home, he thinks about
Sarah with the child in her arms. She had seemed so natural, so essentially
right. How futile it was to appeal to a woman like that for conventions sake!
[] He envied them. These people had grasped what he had always secretly
longed for (138). Minister Sorleysons own marriage is portrayed as tepid.
He admits to himself that His insistence that [Sarah] should marry one
of the men was only a nod to the world (147). The narrative juxtaposes, in
his train of thought, the world of peoples conventions against the natural
world: He had come to the conclusion that Nature, with her continual
and invariably indiscreet fertility, was a bad example to simple folk (144).



The natural and unconventional Sarah is thus placed in opposition to the

pious world of Sorleysons church. If we follow Kristevan theory, we might
assume that this space between nature and culture is a liberating one for
women. However, nature versus culture can never be a clear-cut distinction
for people who live by agriculture. By definition, farming is an integration
of nature and culture. Sarah Gomartin is allied to both tamed and untamed
features in the physical description of her body. In the opening scene of
the novel she is described as having a furrow[ed] face, mouse-coloured
hair (12), and a knuckle hard and dented as a chestnut (10), in a lexicon
drawn from a cultivated and uncultivated world. As the novel develops,
Bell continues this practice of using images of nature and agriculture to
describe people who inhabit the land, and vice versa. Occasionally, he
describes landscape in human terms: we read that rain and winds [ ] had
beaten the corn until it lay tangled like the hair of a sleeping man (212),
and furrows gleamed [ ] like fresh-combed hair (79).
So, throughout the text, we are alerted to the bond between people
and place, and the potential for control and chaos in both. Nature, and
perhaps by analogy, Sarah, can be harnessed but never fully tamed. When
the brothers first meet her, the younger brother Frank ponders on her
honey-coloured hair (20), but the story of him attempting to control a
swarm of bees and failing (120) presages his inability to manage Sarah.
Bell is no kinder to the minister in this scene than he is to the layman.
The reverend gentleman was flapping his hand aimlessly round his head
in a classic Freudian enactment of emasculation, while interrogating the
equally ineffectual Frank: Did you get the queen?, whereupon Frank
shrugged his shoulders and turned away. We are forewarned that neither
flapper nor shrugger will tame Queen Bee Sarah. In a similarly Freudian
and apian vein, we read Sorleysons comment to Sarah: I see youre having
trouble with your honey-makers. She regally denies knowledge of any
dissent among her drones: Its Frank thats having the trouble I know
nothing about them (120).
The shattering of moral codes by this woman is signalled by her dropping, and occasionally breaking, of vessels symbolising domesticity. On
Franks first physical approach, Her elbow knocked over the flour-mug
which starred out with a little explosion on the floor (47). The action

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


carries a forewarning which Frank does not heed: that mischievous limb
will eventually elbow him out of the way in favour of the older brother,
and he would do well to be wary of the explosive and stellar quality of the
woman he desires. As in the scene of the bees, Bells writing is metaphorically
powerful. When Sarah first has sex with Hamilton, the lustre jug, which
she bought in Belfast as a present for her mother, shattered into fragments
(101). When she first realises she is pregnant, not knowing which brother
is the father, A plate slipped from her fingers and shattered on the floor
(115). Given Sarahs natural dexterity as a worker, these mishaps alert the
reader to her ability to break conventions as easily as crockery.
However, the narrative resists the reading of Sarah as a woman who is
wild and driven mainly by animal desires. We are shown minister Sorleysons
mental assessment of the new mother crooning over her child (134) as
natural and essentially right (138), but Frank, one of the two possible
fathers for her baby, undercuts this on his entrance by commenting that
the scene is like a picture off a grocers calendar (135). His sardonic remark
highlights Sarahs commercial acumen, as well as the clichd nature of the
ministers male gaze in assessing the maternal scene before his eyes. Pastor of
a church which, like all Christian churches, valorises a motherhood which
embodies virtue (134), and trapped in a marriage of half-fulfilment (147)
with a gentle and attentive (145) woman, Sorleyson is shown to be prey to
his own fantasy of the archetypally assertive, fertile female. Regarding Sarah
and her infant, the narrative has him question himself: Was this not the
very thing that he himself had pictured in his most secret thoughts?, and
when she signals to him that he should leave so that she can breastfeed the
child, he feels that in some way he was being cheated (134). Its a doublebarrelled image: he is denied the fulfilment of his fantasy of observing her
nursing her child, and concurrently displaced by the child in his own desire
for Sarahs breast, which in a later scene, he touches (148). Franks ironic
comment about the grocers calendar, coming from the practical farmer
whom Sarah lives with, rather than the would-be intellectual minister
who is sexually attracted to her, strikes a truer note. Sarah is not romantic;
she is pragmatic. She acts not just from instinct, nor from conventions of
a culture imbued with stereotypical myths of virtuous motherhood, but
from reason, driven by economic considerations.



The characterisation of Hamilton, the man she finally chooses as her

legal partner (but only after Franks death), firmly identifies him with the
farm: Slow and powerful as the animals he worked among. Hamilton set
his life by the sun and seasons and moved as irresistibly []. He grew out
of the soil and a man and a bush and a beast kept their appointed places
in his world (103). Sarah wins him by demonstrating that she has a valuable role to play in this world. In Belfast, he finds he no longer needs to
write a shopping-list as Sarah knows what is needed, and he acknowledges:
I couldna have carried a better list to market (878). She makes herself
indispensible, and therein lies her strength. Its not a case of trading sexual
favours for protection; Sarah is shown to be a fully-functioning member
of the farm, in house, yard and field. We see her grinding corn, bringing
food to men in the fields, and working hard even as she is ready to give
birth. She begins her first labour while active in the hayfield, working to
the last moment despite being in a blindness of pain (129), and moments
after giving birth she orders midwife Agnes to Chase the hens from the
garden (130). The author depicts the younger Sarah as enamoured of the
farm as much as the farm-owners: Slowly, like a late spring in her life, her
desires were budding to fulfilment. A hearth, a home to preside over, the
daily life of cattle and fowl in her hands, the desires of her own body (86),
a list which puts material comfort before sexual desire.
I began this article by saying that an occasional authorial intrusion jars
on the narrative; while depicting Sarah as an archetypal Earth Mother while
she is still fertile, Bells representation of her in early middle-age betrays
ageist and sexist preconceptions: When a woman is forty and the faint
colour that time has left on her face and bones is burned into her body
like enamel, what does it matter if a man is clumsy and uncouth when they
were alone? (239). Apparently unable to imagine female sexual desire outlasting a womans youth, Bell depicts her first as honey-haired siren, then
magnificent matriarch, and finally, a female Bull McCabe (Keane, 1991),
regarding her grassland as a miser might his gold. The older Sarah apparently lusts only after the land, as opposed to the lovers that have passed
into [her] hands (238), and Frank, we are told, tires of her love in which
there was neither passion nor endearment (179). Sarah is represented as
scrupulous in her management of her affairs, commercial as well as sexual.

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


Her neighbours say of her: Fairs fair. Shell never take a penny too much,
or give ye a penny less (164). She is similarly even-handed in her dealings
with the two brothers: She never wavered in her calm attention to the men,
never setting one above the other (111). She retorts to Sorleysons urgings
to marry one of them as follows: it would only be putting a scab on a sore.
What right have I to give myself and the child to one man over the other?
(146). To marry one of the men, in her estimation, would be To bend and
contrive things so that all would be smooth from the outside, like the way
a lazy workman finishes a creel (135). Despite her renunciation of organised religion, Sarah knows her bible: her outburst places Sorleyson in the
camp of the pharisaical whited sepulchres denounced by Jesus. McIntosh
writes that it would be tempting to see Sarahs beration of the minister as
an articulation of Bells own philosophy (1999: 197).
However, I propose that Sam Hanna Bell cannot quite accept the
behaviour of the woman he has created, despite putting forward a perfectly reasonable, and often honourable, explanation for her actions. As
her neighbour Agnes Sampson puts it, Its wonderful what happens tae
black-clocks when they get intae long grass (Bell, 1974: 55), a comment
which paradoxically admires and derides Sarahs social climbing. Bells
narrative betrays a similarly mixed reaction to the character he creates.
For instance, some passages of the novel betray a suspicion that a female
flouting sexual mores must carry some sense of shame and guilt for defying
both kin and kirk. Earlier, I discussed a list of Sarahs wish-fulfilment: her
acquisition of hearth, home, cattle, fowl, and sexual partnership. The narrative undermines her triumphalism immediately afterwards, by telling us
that she winced and turned away again from that impalpable shadow that
hung in the depths of her mind (86). According to Bells biographer, Sean
McMahon, The persistent enigma [] is how to interpret Sarahs character:
is she instinctively manipulative or an independent woman born out ofher
time? (1999: 72). In my opinion, this confusion in the readers analysis
stems from her creators ambivalence. Like Tolstoy in Anne Karenina, Bell
fashions a woman of powerful desires, then, in a Freudian panic over the
femme fatale who threatens to take over his fictional universe, contrives
to mould her into more manageable proportions. While she does not, like
Anna, end up under a train, Sarahs trains of thought cause her much agony.



When she realises she is pregnant, the narrative tells us, she lies awake at
night worrying, while all the possible and impossible consequences of her
guilt that a heated brain could imagine were drawn to her pillow (Bell,
1974: 115). Its certainly credible that a woman in her situation, who is after
all still a servant impregnated by her employer, might be worried about her
future, but I question Bells use of the word guilt, which betrays a moral
judgement more allied to the novels characterisation of the minister than
the defiant woman who tells her mother: Theres nothing wrong wi my
ways o going []. Ye can go to your church if ye will, but youre no taking
me! (64). In chapter 20, were told that: In teaching little Andrew to say
his prayers, Sarah revealed one of those inconsistencies in her behaviour
which, when considered sympathetically, showed plainly that her estrangement from her church was not one of conviction, but of fear and shame
(219; my emphasis). The phrase when considered sympathetically carries
within it its binary opposite, the notion that this woman is leaving herself
open to unsympathetic readings. The supposition that she feels fear and
shame about her estrangement from her church suggests to me that its
her creator, Sam Hanna Bell, thats suffering from some inconsistencies.
After all, a more rational explanation for her teaching the child prayers
would be so that he could fit in easily when he goes to school, an attitude
congruent with Sarahs subsequent marriage to Hamilton for the sake of
her daughters status in the community, even when it means compromising
her own dearly-held principles. The narrative shows a society that is not of
one mind in its assessment of Sarah:
the women, those shapers of opinion and prejudice, would hear nothing in Sarahs
favour, and the men for peaces sake, agreed that she was a shameless bisom and
worth the watching. Yet, among themselves, as they gathered at the crossroads, there
could be detected a tickled humour at the idea of this matriarchal household set up
among them, and one man expressed the opinion that if there was any truth in the
old saying that a man maun ask his wifes leave to thrive then the Echlins would do
rightly with Martha Gomartins girl. (1645)

The author shows himself of a similarly divided mind. His text veers between
a characterisation of Sarah as a practical woman who has turned her back
on craven obedience to religious or social convention, and portraying her

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


as a meeker and more morally-compromised person carrying a burden of

shame and guilt. There is mileage in the argument that a character, even
in a rigorously realist novel such as this, may be complex and contradictory, but my assessment is that the contradiction exists in the creators
own mind. Sarah looks askance at Franks return to church attendance,
deeming it odd (246), and does not agree with Hamis assessment of it as
a potential source of comfort (247). Bell shows that the decision whether
or not to marry is all hers, for when Sorleyson asks Hamilton Will you
not marry her? (136), he answers: Id marry her flying. But she wont
have me (137). Sarah seems about to change her mind when she suspects
that Frank is interested in another woman, as she knew that it would be
impossible to live with another woman a married woman in Rathard.
She decides to ask Hamilton to marry her, having no doubt about
how that request would be received (219). She doesnt go through with
it, however, when Franks plans are forcibly terminated. Once her place is
no longer threatened, Sarah sees no reason to wed. How do we account
for the apparent authorial confusion over his own creation? It may be
because Sarah is based on a real-life figure, and however fully he imagines
her, the writer cannot quite conceive of such a transgressive female. The
author admits that he fell about with laughter when he heard the story
first of a servant girl who forms a liaison with two brothers, and that when
he tried to write it as a short story, it ran all over the edges (McMahon,
1999: 82). This account of his reception of the original story is revealing:
his laughter signals embarrassment at the breaking of taboo, but it also
betrays a sexual excitement, and the personification of a story which ran
all over the edges conjures a similar character to the wayward, uncontrollable Sarah whose ways are [her] own. As she tells her mother about the
pain and evil she expects in the life she has chosen, Ill thole it and it
wont be on my knees! (Bell, 1974: 50).
When she finally agrees to appear before the minister, son of the first
Sorleyson, and take Hamilton as her husband, the text presents Sarah as
stooped, huddled (9) but still not on her knees, and its clear that she has
returned to the church merely for the sake ofher daughter, another Martha,
and only when the minister presents her unmarried status as the single
impediment to young Marthas future. The father of her daughters suitor



refers to Sarah as a Jezebel (253), and throws his son Joe out of home for
continuing the relationship with a family he denounces as a crew o libertines and whores (279). Joe does not pass on the derogatory terms, but he
doesnt have to; Joe knew that she knew (283). Despite this, Sarah shows
no sign at this stage that she is prepared to become a wife. She approaches
Joe in a characteristically upfront manner: Have ye any money by ye, Joe?
When he replies that he has 180, she offers to match the sum and set the
both of ye up in a shop (284). Its surely no coincidence that 180 + 180
= 360. In mathematical terms, 360 degrees is a full revolution. Sarah is
revolutionary in two senses: willing to rebel against convention, but also
instrumental in aiding her daughters advancement in life.
In contrast to this pragmatism, Bells text tells us that she knows that
she was criticised by a standard which she herself accepted, and was being
rightfully blamed for falling below it (154). So, while Bells narrative attributes external moral courage to Sarah, albeit following a moral code deplored
by her neighbours, he paradoxically endows her with internal pusillanimity. There is no sign in the characters outward behaviour that she accepts
the mores of her community, any more than she admits their blame to be
rightful. The speech she makes before her mother leaves Ravara displays
cynicism about socially accepted standards as well as her communitys
moral or godly codes. When her mother warns her: Ye cant prosper,
Sarah, if ye forget your duty to God, she responds with heavy sarcasm:
Aye! Our folks prospered, didnt they, with their running tae Church on
a Sunday! My father died on the roads, and ever since I can mind my life
has been nothing else but slaving for other folk (50). I suggest that the
severe judgemental mores of his forebears have left a mark on the writer,
and however much he admires the character he has created, or the original servant who inspired her, he has not totally silenced, and has to some
extent internalised, church-going ancestral voices that would condemn
women for non-standard sexuality.
I began by looking at the apparent rivalry between nature and church
for Sarah Gomartin, and Ill conclude with some further explorations on
that theme. Lest there is any suspicion that because she ends up married
that Sarah has come back to the fold, like the lost lamb that her mother
compared her to (59), Bell negates this interpretation. The wedding ring

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


the minister tries to force onto her gnarled finger will not fit. Sorleyson says
I think we should manage to do it properly, but Sarahs hand remains too
large for the ring (10), clearly signifying that the enclosure of marriage is
not one to which she is suited. Later, Bell reveals the ministers realisation
that I trapped her into it. I failed just as much as my predecessors failed; as
much as my father failed (15). According to Patrick Griffin, in The People
with No Name, Ulsters dissenters had a long tradition of challenging their
pastors and embracing life beyond the bounds of the meeting-house (2001,
37). This argument is put forward by Patrick Walsh and Marcus Free in
their discussion of the 1990 film December Bride (OSullivan), based on
the novel. They write that Sarahs independence is a logical outcome of
the trajectory of Presbyterianism, which emphasises the individual overthe
organised church (Ramblado-Minero, 2006: 171).
Its interesting that Griffins book characterises the Ulster-Scots as
people with no name, as the question of naming is crucial in this text.
Sarah tells the minister that the brothers favour the name Ben for the
child, but she stiffens when he tells her that it means son of a right hand
(146), apparently affronted that it seems to favour one side Sarah, as
we have heard already, is even-handed. She registers the child as Andrew
Gomartin, thus forging her own bond between its parentage, giving it its
paternal grandfathers name as well as her own. However, we later learn that
the children are given the surname Echlin (227) by their schoolmates, and
in the farm-houses scattered through the townlands, Sarah was known as
Mrs Echlin (240). She feels that No one could dispute Hamilton as her
husband and as father to the children (239). However, when the minister
comes to tell her that her unmarried status is a hindrance to Marthas marriage, he calls her Miss Gomartin, and she looked up sharply at the strange
title (295). So here again, we get a conflict concerning what has apparently
happened naturally in the course of time: despite their legal position, the
woman and children have acquired Hamiltons surname, but the minister
can still point out the illegitimacy of their claims to it. Its not just Sarah
who comes into conflict with her minister. When he remonstrates with a
farmer for keeping his children out of school to work, he is told to attend
to his own affairs and not hinder their work under the drying sun that
God had granted them [and] he learned that the most important thing in



the lives of farm people is saving their crops (122). Sorleyson may assume
in pressurising Sarah into finally marrying that she is coming under his
jurisdiction, but it could be read equally as her finally saving her crops
the future of her offspring.

Bell, S.H. (1974), December Bride, Blackstaff, Belfast. First published Dobson, London,
Doak, N. (2008), Assessing an absence: Ulster Protestant women authors, 190060,
in Busteed, M., Neal, F. and Tonge, J., Irish Protestant Identities, Manchester
University Press, Manchester, pp.12637.
Griffin, P. (2001), The People with No Name: Irelands Ulster Scots, Americas Scots Irish,
and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 16891764, Princeton University
Press, Princeton, N.J..
Hickey, R. (2002), A Source Book for Irish English, John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
Keane, J.B. (1991) The Field, Mercier, Cork.
Madden, D. (2003), One By One in the Darkness, Faber, London.
Magennis, C. (2010), Sons of Ulster: Masculinities in the Contemporary Northern Irish
Novel, Peter Lang, Bern.
McIntosh, G. (1999), The Force of Culture: Unionist Identities in Twentieth-century
Ireland, Cork University Press, Cork.
McMahon, S. (1999), Sam Hanna Bell: A Biography, Blackstaff, Belfast.
OByrne, D. (2002), Irish Womens Rural Writings since Independence, PhD thesis,
Loughborough University, Loughborough.
O Sullivan, T. (dir.) (1990), December Bride, Channel 4.
Ramblado-Minero, M.C. and Prez-Vides, M.A. (eds) (2006), Unmarried Mothers
in Twentieth-Century Ireland: Cultural Reflections, edited by Maria Cinta and
Maria Auxiliadora, Edwin Mellen, Lampeter.
Storey, M.L. (2004), Representing the Troubles in Irish Short Fiction, Catholic University of America Press, Washington D.C..

My ways are my own: Female, Family and Farm


Thaddeus OSullivans 1990 film December Bride brought Bells source text
back to public attention, but a new edition of the original novel is needed.
Ideally, this would incorporate a useful introduction, explaining how the
so-called Amendment years of 1980s Ireland provided many real-life sisters
to the revolutionary Sarah Gomartin, thus sparking interest in the book
and the film, a glossary of the Ulster-Scots vocabulary, and correction of
the punctuation, specifically but not solely, the aberrant apostrophe.


There is something narcotic in watching a war unfold

on your doorstep, knowing all the while it cant hurt
you: Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town

Scotland will be reborn the day the last minister is strangled with the last
copy of the Sunday Post.
Nairn, 1970: 34
Advocates of Tartan Noir should not be satisfied to see crime fiction
considered an equal genre to literary fiction but a superior one. Literary
fiction has now detached itself into its own hermetic bubble away from
the rest of the world, where people do and say things that are excused
from reality because they are literary. Despite its faults (and it has many)
crime fiction is more relevant to us and our situation because, from leaders
declaring war for ropey reasons, to smokers daring to puff in an enclosed
public space, everyone has broken the law. We are all criminals.
OConnor, 2007: 58

Tom Nairns polemical article, Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism,

published in The New Left Review in 1968 offers a resounding clarion
call to Scottish national aspirations. Nairn (1970: 34) argues two reasons,
firstly because it offers a blow against the integrity of British imperialism
and secondly, because it represents some transfer of power to a smaller
arena. Whilst these suggestions range from the eminently supportable to
the potentially problematic, they correlate and resonate with the on-going
principal of how fiction responds to regional feelings of social, cultural
and political fragmentation.



Edmund OConnors own assertive assessment of the dominance of

crime fiction over literary fiction reinforces the pertinence of the popular genres in responding with urgency and immediacy to contemporary
events. Hughes (1991: 6) highlights the point that The major response to
Northern Ireland has been in the form of the thriller and this contentious
and collective criminalisation of the crime-reading public highlights a
cross-cultural bridging between the respective heritages in Scotland and
Ireland. As Bell (2008: 53) suggests, with a comment that can be applied
to the thriller as well: Good crime fiction therefore encourages an active
sociological reading, where the reader becomes an armchair detective of
the world around him or her. As much an effective narrative as a continued
thesis under revision, contemporary popular fiction and particularly crime
fiction and the thriller genre rely on the successful relationship between
reader and novelist in order to reinforce the emphatic commentary both
offer. To this effect, Goldring, Minne and Newsinger observe that there is
an artistic connection [] between social reality and fiction. Any student
of political power and domination is aware that power and domination in
a complex society are not one dimensional phenomena, they are generally
subtle, multi-layered (1997: 54).
In keeping with the overarching theme of this volume, this chapter
will consider the detective fiction of Scottish novelist Liam McIlvanney,
whose debut novel, All the Colours of the Town (2009) is set in and between
the cities of Belfast and Glasgow, exploring the long arm of sectarianism
as it sprawls across the cities. The title references the on-going conflicts
between Catholicism and Protestantism, their distinctive colours characterising their history and longevity. Significantly, the title also reduces two
major cities to the status of towns, maintaining a long cultural history of
such representation. Admittedly it reads with greater fluidity but there
exists an underlying possibility that town also refers to the sentiments
with which McIlvanney views the contemporary conflict in Glasgow:
two parochial sides competing for bragging rights and petty status within
the locale of a town for whom the residents remain trapped in their own
histories, stubbornly refusing to budge until old scores are settled. Their
bitter memories, am adjective the protagonist uses to describe religious
sentiments in Scottish towns, latching onto a long-fought conflict which

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


mimics like the attention-seeking sibling but is forever in the shadows when
compared with the violence over the water.
The younger novelist draws on a lineage established by his father,
William McIlvanney author of the renowned Scottish detective trilogy
featuring Jack Laidlaw and based in Glasgow. McIlvanney is seemingly
posited as the progenitor for the rise to eminence that Scottish crime fiction has undergone, the Tartan Noir that Ian Rankin refers to (Rankin
1999). The tensions between the popular and the literary are exemplified
by the manner in which crime fiction straddles boundaries and genres but
notable in All the Colours of the Town is the way in which McIlvanney
successfully draws on certain elements of the Troubles thriller, producing a novel which openly resists arrest and shifts rapidly between its target
audiences. By attempting to read this work as a Troubles thriller, we must
identify the correlative elements of what Caitlin McGuinness, writing
about David Parks novel Swallowing the Sun (2005), calls:
a blueprint for interpreting the violence and tension it contains; we can expect that
there will be a hunt for a master criminal, and that the central figure will need to
piece together clues from his past and present in order to bring this about. (2009: 331)

Furthermore there are the recognisable commonalities with the thriller

genre which, for the purposes of this chapter, is linked directly as being
congruous with the trappings of the crime thriller. These three main points
are the prologue, the body, its significance and treatment, and the resolution to the novel.
Reviewing McIlvanneys novel for The Telegraph, Thomas Marks
When the Glaswegian reporter Gerry Conway sees a grainy old photo of a Holyrood
bigwig posing with UVF gunmen, hes in two minds: Peter Lyons is Minister for
Justice and one of Conways most valuable contacts, but old-fashioned scoops are rare
and this one seems too good to ignore. Its a story that eventually leads him beyond
the cosmopolitan faades of Glasgow and Belfast to reveal the ugly links between
the cities during the Troubles, when the dark currencies of crime slipped back and
forth between Ireland and Scotland like the phantom e in whisky. (2009: n.p)



The grainy old photo containing a Holyrood bigwig posing with UVF
gunmen highlights the emphasis on history and the roots of conflict and
crime in the past. The personal and the political collide here, exposing
the collusion between crime and the State. Marks highlights further the
cosmopolitan facades which characterise Glasgow and Belfast, exteriors
that ooze culture and sophistication but consciously mask an underlying
complicity between money, violence and power. The lingual commonality
of Gaelic is a further Celtic connection between the two cities, Glasgows
Gles Chu meaning dear green place whilst Belfast takes its origins from
Bal Feirste, meaning mouth of the sandbars (Room, 1986 [1994): 27).
Significantly Marks identifies the currencies of crime, perhaps consciously
riffing on the shifts between Glasgow and Belfast as notable shipbuilding
cities, sea-facing ports which are simultaneously connected by the ravages
of boom and bust, economic expansion followed by the problems of postindustrial decline, the latter a regular site for contemporary crime fiction,
but cities which are dislocated by the estrangement of different forms of
financial exchange. The noun currency is also synonymous with the noun
transmission, suggesting that it remains the financial transactions which
underpin the transnational exchanges, their slipping and shifting across
the waters as part of the virulent spreading of terror, catalysed through
the medium of commerce.
Marks comments further that McIlvanneys novel represents A bold,
impressive debut [which] turns the conventions of noir fiction on the politics of devolution to find individuals compromised and nations wanting,
further emphasising the machinations at work behind the scenes where
there exists the legacy of being turned one way or the other, a punishment
beating for a tout or an informant turned grass, turning here suggesting
a joining of the dots between agencies and people, exposing the interrelationships at work behind the scenes. The pervasive feeling is similar to the
ethics offiction that Rankin discussed. McIlvanney and other novelists such
as Eoin McNamee (Resurrection Man, 2004) and Glen Patterson (Lapsed
Protestant, 2006) is revealing or reinvigorating truths about the cities of
Glasgow or Belfast respectively, using a genre of fiction that functions as well
as it does because it is so close the public that consumes it. Writing directly
from the experiences of his upbringing and articulated in his subsequent

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


fiction, Glen Patterson echoes this talking about his own experiences in
writing about the Troubles. He lays emphasis on the feeling that:
[w]e draw heavily on the communities which nurtured us, and even when we write
out of a desire to inform, in the broadest sense, it is hard sometimes not to feel, in
the narrowest sense, like an informer. (2006: 181)

The authorial position in McIlvanneys novel is one of distance, where he

witnessed the local conflict between factions and fans channelling religion
into football (and the other way around?) but did not directly experience
the Troubles of Ulster and Belfast. The front cover artwork exemplifies this,
a shadowed figure overlooking a city, safe from the heart ofthe conflict but
with the headshot placed directly to the right of a fractured bullet hole in
the title, glass splintered across the print.
The novel opens with an interior domestic scene in the home of
Eamonn Walsh and his family: Already she is smiling, one foot on the
stairs. She stops to listen. She isnt scared. This is a game they play most
nights. Its important to have a story, a pretext. (McIlvanney, 2009: 1) The
reader is unaware at this point as to who the narrator is, only told the gender
and can seemingly deduce age from her declaration that she isnt scared,
which locates her as a young child. That it is important to have a story, a
pretext possesses a multiplicity of meanings, punning on the journalists
story which foregrounds the book, anticipating the crime scene and the
genre where the story is the body, a starting point, with the importance
of a pretext being the reason for Conways visit to Belfast, the justification for the murder which underpins the investigation and significantly,
the rationale for the decision to publish the initial story exposing Peter
Lyons, which ultimately costs Conway his job.
Recalling parties from the past when she dared not enter the living
room, the child makes her way into the guest bedroom of the house, and
finds herself amongst the coats and clothing discarded by the familys visitors: Her fingers trace train tickets, paper hankies, loose coins, stiff folded
banknotes, glasses-cases, bubble-moulded sheets of aspirin. They pat car
keys and ballpoint pens and cigarette lighters (McIlvanney, 2009: 2). These
are markers for the familiar domestic comforts that are enjoyed by the



visitors, the stiff folded banknotes suggesting recent acquisition rather

than a long-standing preservation or the requisite nervous glances until
the next payday which are accustomed to the discomforts of a workingclass life. More significantly their status as cash suggests a non-traceable
form of transaction, an air of deniability freshly retrieved from the bank
and ready for distribution, reward and coercion. The train tickets and
car keys suggest a multitude of people travelling for social engagements
and entertainment, re-acquaintance with old friends. This time she sees
someone in the hall after making her way down the stairs: a man like her
father, with brown hair and glasses, but younger. His face is kind, he has a
kind face, and she smiles at him, a smile that expects his complicity, a smile
that says, Dont tell (McIlvanney, 2009: 3).
McIlvanney here subverts the continuum of the genre, the child
demanding secrecy and silence to enhance the drama of the game while a
more elaborate and brutal game takes place in the room where her father
is. That she identifies this man and his colleague as her fathers clients is
telling, their formal anonymity conveying a respectable business practice,
possessing the trappings of financial or legal meetings, the established
habits of an accomplished businessman masking the more illicit attributes
or reasons for requiring legal assistance or exchanging services for financial
As the pair leave, moving swiftly from the home into the night, the
child gazes out of the door, realising that:
already, the bright room at her back is a foreign land. Its not the living room but a
room in a fairy tale, a dragons cave. And now, for the first time she can remember,
she regrets having left her bed. (McIlvanney, 2009: 3)

The foreignness of the land indicates a sense of estrangement, the living

room being transformed from the familiar domestic and familial preserve
into an abstraction, the reference to the dragon emphasising not just the
dangerous creature who temporarily invades fairy tales before being beaten
off by the hero, but also offering a knowing glance to Raymond Chandlers
knight, acknowledging the tradition from which the novel emerges.

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


As the child moves into the living room she sees her mother kneeling
by the sofa over her father who is slumped on the couch (McIlvanney,
2009: 4). At first the child believes her mother is saying the Rosary, juxtaposing religious ceremony and forgiveness with the death of her husband,
until she slips in her fathers blood and the surrounding neighbourhood
lights come on. The Rosary is significant, suggesting personal responsibility and retribution for the unknown acts which have taken place, enhancing further the element of punishment which characterises beatings and
killings during the Troubles and later in the novel. That this occurs in the
past is significant in the crime narrative, a point with which Skenazy (1995:
114) concurs (when discussing Raymond Chandler) using the term gothic
causality for the hauntings that structure most crime narratives where a
secret from the past [] represents an occurrence or desire antithetical to
the principles and position of the house (or family). The secret from the
past occurs with the murder of the childs father within the domestic sphere
and the lack of knowledge about why the killing occurred.
McGuinness observes that the first structural characteristic of the
Troubles Thriller is:
a prologue, a dramatic primary scene that establishes character, place and motivation
through a closely observed and violent event. The sense that you have been dropped
into the middle of a crisis in the first few lines of the book is a standard feature of
many Troubles thrillers. (2006: 331)

Here McIlvanney establishes the primary scene, the child witnessing her
fathers murder. The close observation, intimately bound up with the unintended sharing of bodily fluids, suggests an inherited trauma, a legacy from
parents to daughter, husband to wife. The killing is the violent event and the
crisis we have been dropped into the middle of is significant: the fathers
death is a major event within the domestic locale, the loss of a parent with
(at this point) unknown motivations. The reader witnesses the transferral
of fear, intrigue and conspiracy from the national to the domestic sphere.
However, in the context of Northern Ireland, it lacks the significance that
would be ascribed to it in Glasgow. Brookmyre quoting from a later section
of McIlvanneys novel, observes:


Glasgow wasnt Belfast. A life meant something in Glasgow, a death mattered, in
a way it didnt here. This, in microcosm, represents the disparity of experience so
incisively drawn in Liam McIlvanneys post-Troubles novel, an engaging exploration
of Northern Irish sectarianism and its pale shadow across the water in the west of
Scotland. (2009: n.p)

The treatment of violence and killing is rendered starkly apparent here:

a murder in Belfast, in the Troubles, is an almost daily occurrence and
the body becomes a tool for political capital, a trophy or a warning, representative of local codes and regulations, territories not to be traversed.
Noticeably, Christopher Brookmyre too reinforces the Celtic Connection,
describing Glasgows own diluted brand of the Troubles the selection
of words specifically indicating the abhorrent commercial exploitation of
violence within the period of time itself as the pale shadow in the West
of Scotland. In Glasgow a murder represents a moment of transgression,
a ritual and symbol. Later Gerry Conway claims:
Gangsters are a local speciality [] People connect them to an older Glasgow, a darker,
truer city before the stone-cleaning and the logos, Princes Square and the City of
Culture. We take solace in their formalised acts of violence, these murders in which
everything location, timing, the disposition of the corpse has an emblematic
aptness, a rhetorical neatness. Bodies dumped in cars, the bullet up the anus, the
dead tout clutching a bag of dogshit: the codes being respected, you feel, protocols
observed. (McIlvanney, 2009: 33)

Murder and its place in Glasgows culture form both a gesture to history and
a process of resistance to the commodification and sanitisation associated
with the City of Culture. The formalised acts of violence suggest that, like
Belfast, there is an unspoken linguistic quality to the murders, a grammar
and order with which the witnesses are to become intimately acquainted
if they are to understand its significance and its warning, ultimately to
avoid the same fate themselves. The rhetorical neatness reinforces the
concept of murder as a codified language, a sequence of rules and protocols. Aaron Kelly contends that Troubles thrillers reveal subtle yet conspicuous references to the material and therefore historical circumstances
under which they were produced: the historical raw materials which the
Troubles thriller simultaneously strives to utilize, transform and repress,

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


encode themselves in determinate structures of formal absence and aporia

(2005: 9). This is representative of McIlvaneys portrayal of both Belfast
and Glasgow and in the extract under consideration, it is apparent that the
clashes between different layers of the cities have informed his depiction.
Allen Feldman argues that Political enactment becomes sedimented with
its own local histories that are mapped out on the template of the body
(1991: 4) and so the bodies in both cities constitute sites upon which historical, spacialised narratives are played out between different sides, the
template effectively dehumanising the people who have been murdered
or attacked, they represent an assemblage of recognisable symbols for the
State and the law-enforcement organisations to appropriate for their own
propaganda and decode to identify the enemys next move. Sedimented
is also a particularly apt term for the sense of preserving history through
preserving the body, figuratively inscribing messages to be passed from
generation to generation. Feldman argues further for a reading of bodies
as signifiers of both past and present structures of violence in the state:
The body, altered by violence, re-enacts other altered bodies dispersed in
time and space; it also re-enacts political discourse and even the movement of history itself (1991: 7). Violence against the body, whether it be
a punishment beating, a kneecapping or a murder, bears the marks which
are recurrent with other politicised acts, hence the parallels between police
interrogation tactics and other tactics adopted by opposition groups. Gill
Plain reinforces this: At the root of nearly all twentieth-century criminal
fictions lies the literal body of the corpse. The corpse is a contradictory
site within criminal fictions: the end point of a life that simultaneously
signifies the beginning of a narrative (2001: 12). Murder as a link to a
darker, truer Glasgow is the city of William McIlvanneys Laidlaw novels
and a further connection with the dark post-industrial Gothic legacy of
Belfast. The gangsters representing a connection with the past are replicated
through the figure of Isaac Kiwi Hepburn, a former Kesh Commander
and enforcer who claimed to run the Shankhill (McIlvanney, 2009: 119).
His status as the owner of a local boxing club, partly funded by European
money, demonstrates a bridge between the old Belfast where physical
strength and discipline was embodied in community hard men and the
next generation of Belfast youth and young men who are trained in a sport



requiring both. Kiwi embodies a tension between the hardmen and the
gunmen, two different categories of individual within locales who represent separate periods of time during the Troubles.
Following the murder, the narrative switches to Conways office at the
Tribune on Sunday as he scans his email. He is presented with a photocopy
of a photograph from an anonymous source which provides information
concerning one of his major contacts, the Scottish Minister for Justice,
Peter Lyons:
Its an interior shot. Seven men are grouped against a bare white wall. The two men
in the foreground wear black balaclavas, army pullovers and webbing wear belts. They
stand with their legs apart and their hands clasped in front of them. The clasped
hands grip pistols, the barrels pointing to the floor. The other men, unmasked and
in civilian clothes, stand behind the gunman. Two of them hold up a UVF flag. The
head of one of the men has been ringed with a marker pen, and the words Minister
for Justice have been written beside it. (McIlvanney, 2009: 25)

The enforced anonymity of the shot renders it infused with the menacing sensation of being in the room at the time but the indicator of an
Ulster Volunteer Force flag in the background, pistols being displayed
in a deliberate execution-style posture politicises the image. Ringing the
head of Peter Lyons with a marker pen conveys the image of him as a target
within a rifle sight but his presence establishes a tangible link between
the Scottish Parliament and Ulster volunteers. His attire as a civilian
marks him out from the paramilitaries with their uniform of balaclavas
and army wear and his positioning at the rear of the photograph seems to
undermine his authority and status, being a mere amateur around professionals. Significantly the anonymity rendered by the balaclava also suggest
that the individuals in this photograph could be anyone, their identities
interchangeable, their personae fluid but their motives underpinned with a
coherent commonality. That it has been reproduced suggests it functions as
a material residue of cultural memory and preservation, an object intended
for dissemination, for gaining status or leverage, for self-promotion. The
original photograph in which Lyons appears is markedly different:

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


It looked a lot different. Lighter and paler, like someone had upped the brightness
too far. The black smudges, the violent chiaroscuro of the photocopy had gone.
The five civilians had features now, eyes and mouths in place of savage black holes.
Everything was sharper, more professional, but something vital had gone, some quality
of impromptu brutality, a sense of the makeshift and illicit. (McIlvanney, 2009: 26)

The original brings humanity and a clear sense of personal engagement

with the photograph. That Conway detects a violent chiaroscuro brings to
mind a rendering of scratches in the margins and across the page, replacing
savage black holes with eyes and mouths detracts from the sinister and
monstrous anonymity suggested in the photocopy. The significance of lacking impromptu brutality, a sense of the makeshift and illicit brings to mind
the theatrical element of performance and spectacle which is foundational
to such posturing. The makeshift and illicit reinforces further how the
forced professionalism means regulation, a sense of the official, an adherence to agreed standards, a legitimising of the publicity as representative
of the groups status and desire to be treated with seriousness and respect.
The group that Conway identifies Lyons as primarily liaising with is
an organisation known as the New Covenanters:
It wasnt a paramilitary group. It wasnt even a street gang of the Billy Boys type. It was
difficult to know what to call it. A pressure group, maybe. They sent menacing letters
to Catholic MPs and known Republican sympathisers. They disrupted Republican
marches, wrestled banners to the ground. (McIlvanney, 2009: 31)

The function of the pressure group, with an organised publication, reinforces the presence of an audience for which journalistic and creative license
can be exercised to disseminate information about events in Ulster and
Belfast. Like the hard currencies exchanged for weapons, the word and
the language functions as a further tool to unite two sections of two cities
in their common purpose.
In his visit to Belfast, Conway comes to see the city at night using this
analogy: After dark, Belfast was a movie-city, a post-apocalyptic ghost town
(McIlvanney, 2009: 106). Eamonn Hughes comments that the reason for
Belfast functioning so well as a a fictional location is that the predominant association of Belfast with the thriller genre is part and parcel of the



recurrent conceptualising of the city as an empty space, simply waiting to

be inscribed with the demands of novelists and film-makers with stock
properties, of which the most frequently employed are Belfasts imputed
attributes of danger, violence and mayhem (1996: 141). The use of ghost
town also suggests a link with the past, a haunting of the present by the
past and the fictional location also correlates with the stock requirements
of genre: an empty structure waiting to be used as a template by the novelist and other artists. This is similar to the symbolism of the body which
remains a template to be manipulated and contextualised by the opposing
power structures of State and Opposition.
Writing about the Scottish perception of Northern Ireland, Conway
describes how:
The violence thrilled us. All the northern carnage. Bombs and executions just out
of earshot. Army choppers shot down over the hills that looked like Ayrshire. We
were close to this slaughter. We understood it. More at least than the English did.
People were fighting and dying in the name of those acronyms that littered our
walls. It was our war too. Only it couldnt touch us. Nobody here was dying. We
werent being smithereened in our shopping malls and pubs. Our high streets and
town crosses retained their integrity, unedited and unabridged by fertiliser bombs.
(McIlvanney, 2009: 132)

The thrill of the violence renders the entire conflict as a piece of shock
entertainment, Belfast as the movie set for the consumption of viewers
from across the water. That bombs and executions are just out of earshot
demonstrates not just the proximity of Scotland to the conflict but also the
sense of safety they enjoyed, not exposed to the visibility of the murders.
The geographical similarities with hills that looked like Ayrshire, generates feelings of kinship with the respective sides reproduced in Scotland
and Conways key assertion that they understood it more than the English
did reduces the Troubles to an act of cultural Tourism, a trophy spectacle
used by the nation for the purposes of getting one over their neighbours,
for claiming a greater level of identification with the Troubles and ascribing authenticity to the Scottish Sectarian spats. The acronyms for which
people died represent a linguistic solidarity between Northern Ireland and
Scotland, a code known only to those who follow the groups they represent.

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


The use of the terms unedited and unabridged to describe the Scottish
cities in their untainted state further reinforces the analogy that there is a
grammar of violence and destruction which underlies the acts committed
within Glasgow and Belfast. The retention of integrity suggests Conway
believes there is a truth to the lack of destruction, a greater honesty in the
undamaged and real cities.
In the course of his investigations in Belfast, Conway discovers the
origins of the New Covenanters:
They had rowed it, I remembered. The Covenanters the original Covenanters. Those
principled, grim Presbyterians, hated and harried by prelate and king. This stretch of
water the Sea of Moyle, the North Channel, the Scheuch was the hinge of their
kingdom. During the Killing Time the Scots sought refuge here; Peden the Prophet
had sojourned in Ulster when the redcoats flushed him from his Ayrshire glens. At
other times, the Irish sought succour in Scotland. Forbidden to worship in their
own meeting houses, the Antrim Presbyterians rowed across to Ayrshire on Sunday
mornings, and rowed back to Ulster after the divine service. (McIlvanney, 2009: 214)

The historical interpretation suggests refuge and the opportunity to worship without harassment or persecution from the monarchy. These two
countries represent both an exchange and a mutual safe-house as they unite
against a common enemy; in this instance the religious elements prove to
be the uniting factor between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Connecting the murders in the old Glasgow with killings in Ulster,
Conway comments that:
Ulster has its Disappeared. People who went astray, mislaid like a scarf or a pair of
glasses. Lost, like a half-drunk glass of wine, set down on a shelf and forgotten. A
troubling skelf in the back of the mind. But the Disappeared werent many. Mostly
the dead turned up. The rhetorical power of a bloodied corpse stricken, bested,
conspicuously wrong depended on the body being found. Dumped at a roadside,
slumped in an alley, left where it fell on a cinderblock path. And this is how it mostly
worked: for every killing a body, for every body a claim. (McIlvanney, 2009: 313)

The rhetorical power of a bloodied corpse echoes the rhetoric of the

Glasgow underworld, the visual, visceral impact of the blood-stained
body, conspicuously wrong meaning there is a telling mark or sign that is



recognisable to convey the reasons for this killing. That it depends on the
body being found also imposes a recognisable process on the procedure
from killing to discovery, a mutually identifiable set of contingencies and
conditions which are acknowledged between killer and those who find the
body. The process is that which allows political capital to be made from
claiming the body, another entry in the records and another act visible
to the seemingly unwilling but watching public.
As Caitlin McGuinness identified, the Troubles thriller typically
has three elements: prologue, treatment of the body and resolution.
McIlvanneys resolution sees the relationship between Peter Lyons, Scottish
Minister for Justice, and Glasgow gangster Walter Maitland exposed. Lyons
is prosecuted for the murder of the father at the beginning of the novel,
his involvement coming because he He asked to go on the job. He wanted
to go. He wanted more responsibility. It was his idea (McIlvanney, 2009:
309). Taken from Glasgow and tried in a Belfast court Lyons is recorded as
being sentenced to life imprisonment. Under the Good Friday Agreement
of 1998 Lyons serves no sentence but is forced to resign his position.
The internecine entanglements between business and conflict are also
thoroughly exposed:
Walter Maitland was a gunrunner. He shipped weapons to the UVF from the early
seventies right through the worst of the Troubles. [] These crates were unloaded in
Antrim and the contents found their way to the back-rooms and cellars of drinking
clubs in Donegall Pass and the Upper Shankhill. (McIlvanney, 2009: 319)

Walter Maitlands status and occupation see him as an exemplar of the big
business of the Troubles, the complicity between commercial enterprise
and political violence and instability which is found in the extension of
the tentacular arms of his business into Belfast. Such relationships provide
us with what McGuinness calls an awareness of the interconnectedness of
sectarian and criminal violence to daily life that suggests a new blueprint
for reading history and agency in Northern Ireland (2009: 331). This new
blueprint can be applied to McIlvanneys work, his self-conscious interrogation of the dark underside of Glasgow, which adopts the conventions of the
Troubles Thriller and exposes not only this national agency and history, but

Liam McIlvanneys All the Colours of the Town


also the relationship between Northern Ireland and its unsung compatriots
over the water in Scotland: an underworld facilitator and economically
illicit beneficiary of the on-going and all too present spectre of conflict.
If McIlvanneys work has a weakness it is the preoccupation with the
overwritten divorce and personal life of his protagonist. Its presence in the
background distracts from the sustained theme of the Celtic Connectors
that draw us from Glasgow to Belfast and back again, seamlessly shifting
and passing like the proverbial gunrunning ships and their complicit crews,
both in and of the night. This novel combines the essence of a literary and
lyrical McIlvanney in his representation of the Scottish and Northern Irish
political psyches and their responses to and formation by different violent
impulses. Indeed he continues a heritage of engagement with crime writing
and through it produces a work which exposes the unspoken allegiances
and the representation of Scottish and Northern Irish lives with their
respective histories.

Anonymous, <http://www.royalmint.com/discover/ukcities/belfast_article.aspx>,
accessed June 2011.
Bell, E. (2008), Ian Rankin and the Ethics of Crime Fiction in Clues: A Journal of
Detective Fiction, 26 (2) pp.5363.
Brookmyre, C. (2009), <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/oct/10/colourstown-liam-mcilvanney-review >, accessed June 2011.
Feldman, Allen (1991), Formations of Violence: The Narrative of Body and Terror in
Northern Ireland, University of Chicago Press, London and Chicago.
Goldring, M., Minne, J. and Newsinger, J. (1997), A few doubles more in Irish Studies
Review, 5(19) pp.536.
Hughes, E. (1991), Culture and Politics in Northern Ireland, Open University Press,
Hughes, E. (1996), Town of Shadows: Representations of Belfast in Recent Fiction,
Religion and Literature, 28, nos. 2/3 pp.14160.
Kelly, A. (2005), The Thriller and Northern Ireland since 1969, Aldershot, Ashgate.



Marks, T. (2009), <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/

accessed 1 June 2011.
McGuinness, C. (2009), Domestic espionage: David Parks Swallowing the Sun as
Troubles Thriller, Irish Studies Review 17, 3, pp.33145.
McIlvanney, L. (2009), All the Colours of the Town, Faber and Faber Ltd, London.
McIlvanney, W. (1977), Laidlaw, Hodder and Stoughton: London.
McIlvanney, W. (1983; 1984), The Papers of Tony Veitch, Sceptre Press Ltd, Frensham.
McIlvanney, W. (1991), Strange Loyalties, William Morrow: New York.
McNamee, E. (2004), Resurrection Man, Faber and Faber Ltd, London.
Nairn, T. (1970), Three Dreams of Scottish Nationalism, in Miller, Karl (ed.), Memoirs of a Modern Scotland, Faber and Faber Ltd, London.
OConnor, E. (2006), Tartan Noir in Chapman, 108, pp.508.
Park, D. (2005), Swallowing the Sun, Bloomsbury London.
Patterson, G. (2006), Lapsed Protestant, New Island, Dublin.
Plain, G. (2001), Twentieth-century Crime Fiction, Fitzroy Dearborn, Chicago.
Rankin, Ian (1999), Why Crime Fiction Is Good for You. Edinburgh Review 102
pp 916.
Room, Adrian 1986 [1994], A Dictionary of Irish Place Names, Appletree Press, Belfast.
Skenazy, Paul (1995), Behind the Territory Ahead in Fine, David (ed.), Los Angeles
in Fiction: A Collection of Essays (revised edition), University of New Mexico
Press, Albuquerque, pp.15162.


Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations

with the Scottish Play in a Northern Irish Prison

Macbeth, or The Scottish Play for the more superstitious, is Shakespeares

most gruesome work. The text was recently given new purchase when a
group of twenty-five inmates serving life terms in one of Northern Irelands
maximum-security facilities, HMP Maghaberry, for crimes ranging from
intimate partner violence to the murder of a stranger in public, created
an adaptation of this classic for film titled Mickey B. With the guidance
of the Educational Shakespeare Company (ESC) the prisoners wrote the
script, built the sets, performed the roles and eventually were the recipients
of prestigious awards for their work, including the Roger Graef award for
Outstanding Achievement in Film at the Arthur Koestler awards (ESC,
2011). Prisoners reset Macbeth in a fictional private prison called Burnam,
where gangs run the wings with violence and drugs as their common currency. Duncan is the number one drug dealer who is about to be released.
Mickey B is his muscle collecting on his behalf (Magill and MarquisMuradaz, 2009: 109). After being held for three years post-production,1
the film is now available for public viewing. The director, Tom Magill, and
the producer, Jennifer Marquis-Muradaz, reflected on their experiences
filming in the Dramatherapy and social theatre: necessary dialogues chapter, The making of Mickey B, a modern adaptation of Macbeth filmed in
a maximum security prison in Northern Ireland (2009). They claim that
the prison personnel were resistant to the production every step of the

After concerns that the film glorified prisoners and compromised prison security,
the crew was required to promise never to screen Mickey B in Northern Ireland and
agreed to hold the public release of the film for three years (Magill and MarquisMurdaz, 2009).



way, explaining prison staff reacted to the film and to our presence with
suspicion and inflexibility, appearing either blatantly apathetic or downright hostile (Magill and Marquis-Murdaz, 2009: 110).2 At the end of the
filming, Magill and Marquis-Murdaz reflected, Our film crew went into
the prison expecting to learn a lot about prisoners. Instead, we learned a
great deal that scared us about the people who care for them, the people
we put in charge of our most vulnerable, our most violent, our most damaged (Magill and Marquis-Murdaz, 2009: 111).
In an insightful analysis ofthe film Ramona Wray describes the production as a series of interconnections between film proper and documentary
footage as mutually constitutive, with fictional construct and reality
commentary speaking to each other in often conflicting but always illuminating ways (Wray, 2011: 3). Wray additionally notes that films made
in and about Northern Ireland have nearly always contributed to, and
become implicated in, broader political conflicts surrounding the region
(Hill, 2006, cited in Wray, 2011: 3). This claim is further bolstered by an
interview in the bonus material of the DVD, in which a prisoner articulates his time in jail around the hunger strikes by Republican paramilitary
prisoners during the Troubles.3
Wray draws parallels between the discourse of the institution in which
these twenty-five men circulate and the well-publicised and oft-analysed
history ofRepublican struggles to attain political status in gaol. Wray argues
these prisoners demand to wear their own clothes while filming is a spectre
of earlier Republican paramilitary prisoner demands to be visually marked
as distinct from Ordinary Decent Criminals (ODCs) by being permitted


This insight clashes sharply with the reflections of the director and others in the
Category A Mickey B documentary, in which the crew broadly praised prison staff
for their helpfulness.
The Troubles were a period of violence in Northern Ireland commonly dated from
19691998. There has been increasing discussion about the validity of the term
Troubles which some argue trivialises the suffering of all people involved and
affected. While understanding these concerns, we do not wish to impose a different
term on that history, given that most locals still refer to that period of violence as

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


to wear their own clothes (Wray, 2011: 7).4 The failure of this connection
becomes apparent when one is reminded of the way Republican prisoners died to separate themselves from ODCs in the face of the Thatcherite
policy of criminalisation. While the request of these actor-inmates to wear
their own clothes may be a political act in and of itself, it is nonetheless
quite distinct from the politics and actions endorsed by the Republican
political prisoners of 197881. Articulating the actions of the former as
an appeal to the politics of the latter invites such a misreading rather than
attempting to judge the prisoners on their own terms.
This amounts to a failed attempt to acknowledge the agency of the
prisoners. While one cannot get away from writing about the Troubles
when dealing with the North, one also must be careful not to suggest the
Troubles were only about paramilitaries. Paramilitary action punctuates
the manner in which most academics write about the Troubles. The bombings, shootings, ceasefires and funerals have become the de facto timeline
around which ordinary experiences of the societys members must cluster.5
However, the very presence of these ODC prisoners and their narratives
in Category A Mickey B of the impact that the paramilitary violence had
on their own understanding of their role within society, indicates that
while individual and communal history may be responding to the spectacular, carnivalesque performances of the paramilitaries, the prisoners
remain a separate nodal point in the broader Northern Ireland narrative.
Their responses to the paramilitary violence cannot be subsumed under
paramilitary interpretations because doing so only conceals and perpetu-

Republican prisoners established five demands in 1978 to reclaim political status:

1. the right not to wear a prison uniform. 2. The right not to do prison work.
3. The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and
recreational pursuits. 4. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week.
5. Full restoration of remission lost through the protest. The prisoners engaged in
extended protests including the dirty protest, the blanket protests and the hunger
strikes to achieve these aims.
This is not a new insight. Most feminist historians begin their work with the understanding that history is written around wars and other masculine-defined political
acts instead of from the perspective of the common, often female, citizen.



ates the victimhood they experience as a consequence of that paramilitary

violence. The use of the prisoners own rhetoric, through narratives and
vernacular, is movement toward autonomy and recognition as an act of
reclamation from the focus on and fetishisation of paramilitary behavior,
from the language of the national and socio-economic other, and from the
gendered impositions of prison heteronormativity.
Though one may contest the manner in which this moment is linked to
paramilitary prison history, we do not deny that the individuals in the film
will be understood by most viewers as inextricably linked to the political
violence in which they were raised. One could equally argue in response,
however, that the primary reason for this view is because of the manner
in which the film, and subsequent reviews of it, encourages the audience
to view these prisoners in such a light, thereby creating a closed circuit or
self-fulfilling prophecy. The documentary is described as a bonus feature
about the impact of violence on prisoners who grew up during Northern
Irelands Troubles (ESC, 2011). While none of these individuals is marked
with paramilitary membership, nonetheless, it is the Troubles that loom
most large as a subsuming presence in player-prisoner strategies of evocation (Wray, 2011: 8).
Magill and Marquis-Muradaz specifically mark the prisoners with the
discourse surrounding the Troubles division when they share that Some
staff thought we had too many Catholics and not enough Protestants in
the cast (2009: 110).6 Furthermore, they indicate prison-authority resistance to their script, because the plot, the prisoners controlling the jail, was
too close for comfort given the recent memory of the Maze Prison where
prisoners did run their own wings (2009: 110). Again, the prisoners who
ran their wings in the Maze were not ODCs but were marked, and sanctioned before 1978 and effectively between 1981 and 1998, as political pris6

The terms Catholic and Protestant have become over-determined both in academic writing on the Northern Irish conflict and in the everyday lived experiences
of the people of the North who ascribe to or are ascribed by these identities. These
terms do not necessarily correlate with regular church attendance by the individuals
they describe. As to the role that religion itself played in the conflict, that particular
relationship is not the aim of this paper.

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


oners. Again, it is not that these prisoners were unaffected by the context
in which they were raised, but that there was more to their context and
their creation of identity than merely paramilitary-perpetuated violence.
That said, during the filming and release of Mickey B, the political
violence of the North did continue to intersect with the actor-inmates in
Maghaberry. During the November filming, freelance dissident loyalist
Michael Stone attacked Stormont in an attempt to assassinate Gerry Adams
and Martin McGuinness (McDowell, 2006). He was captured and sent to
Maghaberry prison where he denied the charges, claiming this incident
was performance art (BBC News, 2006). Stones defence lawyer, Arthur
Harvey, QC, explained that It was, in fact, a piece of performance art replicating a terrorist attack (McDowell, 2006). Stones act and explanation
collapse the mask of a character that ESC was relying on to help prisoners address the motivations and implications of their crime (Magill and
Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 114).
In December 2009, after the three-year injunction expired and the film
was released, the governor of Maghaberry Prison, Steve Rodford, resigned
from his post after his personal and family details were found inside a dissident Republicans prison cell in HMP Maghaberry, ostensibly marking
him as an assassination target (McDonald, 2009). According to the ESC,
the prisoners were unable to productively change the prison system, indeed
the drama group itself was disbanded for fear that the prisoners would begin
to feel they had too much personal power (Magill and Marquis-Murdaz,
2009: 111). Yet, the threat of paramilitary action created immediate change
in the prison regime through the removal of the prison governor.
The prison is often referred to within the context of the paramilitaries roles in the Troubles as well. When the BBC released a story on the
2009 review of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, they followed the
typical prison narrative by explaining that For more than 30 years it was
expected to deal with thousands of paramilitaries, many of them intent on
escape. Twenty-nine members of staff were murdered. As paramilitary violence lessened and prisoners were released the service faced major changes
(BBC News, 2009). Within the context of the paramilitary spectacle in
the media, academic writing, and prison discourse, the ODCs struggle to
find a voice that can be taken for itself; a voice that may be influenced by



the Troubles without being characterised entirely by sectarian organisations or personalities.

This nodal point of identity marking is synecdochal of broader articulations of subjectivity. The prisoners are marked with a religion, nationality
and sex. Their religious identifiers are apologetically articulated as something one cannot avoid when working in or on Northern Ireland. This
constant reference to the nation and the conflict of nationhood makes the
selection of a Scottish play all the more interesting. The history of Scottish
Protestant settlers in Northern Ireland and the dissection of some Scottish
regions, such as Glasgow, along lines mimicking those in Belfast, make the
play fit.7 The reclamation of the play from the words of an Englishman,
who is equated with high culture, to the vernacular of northern, socioeconomically oppressed populations, puts the Scottish-ness of the play
itself into a set of quotation marks, so to speak, which at once reminds one
of the Republican claim that the Scottish and their descendants were and
are invaders on their island from which the land must be reclaimed, while
also alluding to the Loyalist claim that the nation of Northern Ireland
should not be conflated with any other national marker (either Ireland for
the Republicans or Scotland for Shakespeare). Similarly, the bracketing of
the gender of the character Ladyboy, Mickey Bs cross-dressed take on Lady
Macbeth, allows for a series of inquiries as to the way normative conceptions
of gender8 function in the context of the production of Mickey B specifically and prisons more broadly a subject to which we will return shortly.
Many other labels are affixed to the prisoners aside from broad, categorical markers. Prisoners also label themselves, and this process can have
even more detrimental effect on their self-esteem and well-being than being
labeled by others (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 11314). Again,
we are given a unitary self with which one may fix esteem, and active
citizenship awards (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 112). The one

The most visible demonstration of this divide is the rivalry between perceived
Protestant football club, Glasgow Rangers, and perceived Catholic football club,
Glasgow Celtic, in Glasgow.
Sex is biologically determined, though not in the form of a binary as we socially
assume. Gender is the socially constructed meanings we attach to sex.

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


label the ESC specifically wishes to avoid is the specificity of the crimes
committed by the individuals involved. They explain how they do not
want to replicate the process that to be a prisoner is to be defined by the
worst thing you have ever done (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009:
115). However, they do articulate a problem when our make-up girl was
developing a serious flirtation with a lifer convicted of murder (Magill
and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 111). This is only one instance in which the
intended silence was broken and labels were assigned to prisoners once a
threat to the ESC community was perceived.
In light of this context, an evaluation of the current discourses of
and about Mickey B should be advanced. Rather than attempting a position concerning the subtleties of Shakespearean analysis and adaptation
expertise, such as that of Dr Wray, the present work attempts to analyse
the consequences of the production of Mickey B for the subjectivity of the
prisoners involved with it. Particular attention should be paid to the ability
of prisoners to articulate a strategy of resistance through self-authorship that
removes them from the obligation to mimic the good national example
of Scotland in Macbeth and empowers them to provide an alternate reading of the story as related to the politics of Northern Ireland that is not
predicated upon a paramilitary perspective of the Troubles. Accordingly,
the prisoners adopt a dual performance of performing theatre through
the adapted discourse of the Troubles without limiting themselves to
the heteronormative confines of a Troubles identity. The Scottish end to
Macbeth, where all conflict is resolved and a nation is reconciled, is thus
acknowledged through storyline pastiche, while still rejecting the notion
of a good nationhood. Mickey B performs a dissonance that will not be
solved simply through Troubles paramilitary-focused post-conflict resolution projects.
A Foucauldian analysis of the Mickey B adaptation of Shakespeares
Macbeth reveals the ability of this theatrical performance to engage integral
components of Foucaults work namely, the genealogical method and
his conception of the subject in a way which affords the possibility of
restructuring the power relations which govern status quo discourse on Irish
prisoners. This analysis can be further extended to Judith Butlers notion
of performativity in a way which, through the consequences of Foucaults



conception of the subject, avoids the reactive pitfalls of liberal politics by

promoting a radical openness while nonetheless facilitating pragmatically
viable and culturally specific political strategies. This allows prisoners to
successfully resist the prison regime on their own terms, not on those of
a paramilitary discursive platform. Furthermore, the prisoners articulate
a political stance on the state of Northern Ireland that, while intersecting
with the rhetoric of paramilitaries and political parties in particular places,
still presents a queered reading of their society.
The main theoretical contribution for which Foucault is known is, of
course, a productive theory of power: power produces: it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual
and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production
(Foucault, 1995: 194). Although we may be inclined to think of prisons as
the foremost embodiment of the institutionalisation of power as a repressive force, Foucaults point in Discipline and Punish is just the opposite.
Even those concepts which power seems to explicitly repress are revealed to
be effects of its functioning; delinquency, for example, is shown to be an
effect of penalty (and of the penalty of detention) that makes it possible
to differentiate, accommodate and supervise illegalities (Foucault, 1995:
277). This production of delinquency was already argued in the context
of the framing employed by reviews of and publicity for Mickey B, but it
is also the case that such delinquency is produced directly by the way legal
rhetoric is framed. The production of delinquency becomes less counterintuitive when we realise the supposedly universal language of the law, if
it is to be effective, is actually the discourse of one class to another, which
has neither the same ideas as it nor even the same words (Foucault, 1995:
276). An event, consequently, is not a decision, a treaty, a reign, or a battle,
but the reversal of a relationship of forces, the usurpation of power, the
appropriation of a vocabulary turned against those who had once used it
(Foucault, 1984: 88).9 The success of prisons, thus, lies in whether or not

A clear example of the political weight which rests on discursive designations can
be seen in the change of Republican prisoners from political prisoners to Ordinary
Decent Criminals (ODCs), which not only amounted to a direct de-politicisation

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


they succeed in producing delinquency, a specific type, a politically or economically less dangerous and, on occasion, usable form of illegality as
defined in contrast to normatively accepted forms of illegality engaged in
by dominant groups (Foucault, 1995: 277). Additionally, Foucaults work
reveals the necessity of categories such as delinquency shifting endlessly, as
the extent to which deviance persists and is reconceived justifies the continued revision and extension of a system of discourse that meticulously
defines the norm and its effacement alike, which in this case is the prison
system and the disciplinary power which pervades society (Foucault, 1995:
301). In this way, Foucault reveals a fundamental contradiction between
the strategies deployed by disciplinary and carceral power and the ends
they purport to achieve.
Throughout his work, Foucault switches between describing power
via the rhetoric of production and characterising it as a force relation;
Foucault describes disciplinary power specifically as an art of conflicting energies of quantitative differences between opposing forces also
known as a power relation (Foucault, 1995: 104). Herein lies the optimism
of Foucaults thought, for in order for power relations to come into play,
there must be at least a certain degree of freedom on both sides; in other
words, in power relations there is necessarily the possibility of resistance
because if there were no possibility of resistance there would be no power
relations at all (Foucault, 2003: 34). So even during incarceration, which
tends to be thought of as the foremost example of a unilateral relation of
power, running underneath each and every extension of power are new
possibilities of resistance. Some of the most memorable demonstrations
of this point provided in Discipline and Punish concern the strategic possibilities of resistance afforded to those about to be executed: the ability to
speak before a crowd without fear of any recourse from the law (Foucault,
1995: 60); the sympathy inspired between this crowd and those about to be
executed (Foucault, 1995: 63); the mutual distrust and disrespect ofthe law,
resulting in centres of illegality throughout the mob (Foucault, 1995: 63); the

of an ideology but also resulted in a loss of rights offered exclusively to inmates with
political prisoner status.



romanticisation of the criminal through songs and stories (Foucault, 1995:

67); and so on. Insofar as the attempt to carve out a normative archetype
is co-determined by the production of the deviant, negative space against
which it is defined, to refine the texture of the norm is to equally grant
clarity as to how this norm may be violated.
An additional consequence of Foucaults view of power relations is
the realisation that concepts are not eternal; the power relations which
govern the discourse surrounding particular concepts require constant
maintenance and production. The purpose of the genealogical method
is to trace the shaky history of conceptual development and, in so doing,
reveal that although a given configuration of power relations may govern
a discourse in a specific way, this configuration is nonetheless lacking in
necessity. Lurking behind the grand narratives of eternal concepts, the
genealogist uncovers the secret that [concepts] have no essence or that their
essence was fabricated in a piecemeal fashion from alien forms (Foucault,
1984: 78). By pointing out the inconsistent nature of conceptual foundations, genealogy cuts to the lowly historical beginnings of institutions and
discourses in a way that is derisive and ironic, capable of undoing every
infatuation (Foucault, 1984: 79). Indeed, this is what Foucault does in all
his major works, providing genealogical criticisms of the asylum, the hospital, the prison, and sexuality as the accidents, the minute deviations
the errors, the false appraisals, and the faulty calculations that gave birth
to those things that continue to exist and have value for us; it is to discover
that truth or being does not lie at the root of what we know and what we
are, but at the exteriority of accidents (Foucault, 1984: 81). In pursuing
the implications of this line of thought, Foucault even goes so far as to
deny an essential notion of humanity. Within the context of disciplinary
power, humanity is merely a conceptual limit placed on punishments, the
respectable name given to this economy and to its meticulous calculations
(Foucault, 1984: 92).10 As a result of revealing the way concepts, including
the determinations of what constitutes a subject in/of a particular discipline, are the result of extrinsic and accidental determinations of historically

See also The Ethics of the Concern of the Self, p.26.

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


contingent power relations, Foucault preserves an irreducible possibility

of freedom by which a subject may strategically distance themselves from
particular configurations of power.
That concepts originate from historically contingent networks of
power does not amount to an insistence that a transcendental gaze of
knowledge can be achieved with enough historical accuracy. Foucault is
aware of being locked within a particular historical horizon of which statements are acceptable within a field of scientificity (Foucault, 1980: 197).
In outlining the genealogical response to this situation, Foucault turns
to alternative ways of using history, the first two of which are a parodic
or farcical criticism of history and a use of history to dissociate identities. If the artifacts of history are (retro)actively (re)construed to support
the relations of power which govern the discourse of the status quo, the
genealogist will know what to make of this masquerade. He will not be
too serious to enjoy it; on the contrary, he will push the masquerade to its
limit and prepare the great carnival of time where masks are constantly
reappearing Genealogy is history in the form of a concerted carnival
(Foucault, 1984: 94). The second strategic relation to history is the use of
it for the systematic dissociation of identity. This is necessary because this
rather weak identity, which we attempt to support and to unify under a
mask, is in itself only a parody (Foucault, 1984: 94).
This analysis, albeit truncated, is already sufficient to initiate a
Foucauldian discussion of the production of Mickey B in Belfasts
Maghaberry prison. The performance does not attempt to access the content of the Shakespearean play in itself, but openly admits of being an
adaptation locked within a particular configuration of relations governing
the actors discourse, as evidenced by the choice to abandon original setting
in favor of that of a prison and translate the original text into the vernacular
of working-class Northerners. This method is a clear attempt to think not
outside of our current episteme, but through to the limits of the status
quos configuration of power relations, challenging the normative roles of
everyone from inmates (one of whom is the lead), to bookies (who play
the role of the witches), to the prisons governor (who plays the role of the
English King). In this way, Mickey B has the capacity to engage in the sort
of masquerade of historical roles earlier advocated under the genealogical



method, reflecting on Macbeth a play largely about the violent, constitutive crime which is concealed at powers foundations in a way which
dissociates the discursive practices which govern our conception of the
prisoner generally and Northern Irish prisoner specifically.
For example, the choice to translate the text into the vernacular of
Northern Ireland and setting of a vaguely Northern Irish prison is one
which juxtaposes the inner-workings of the highest political powers with
the conflicts of the lowest of deviant society, thereby calling into question
the foundations for the power relations which govern the status quo while
granting a cultural legitimacy to the imprisoned. Moreover, the choice
to translate the plays conflict between the English and Scottish into the
conflict of the two wings of the prison is another instance of using the
determinations of particular social roles to dissect one another, affording space for people to rethink their individual identity. The prisoners
displace the overarching national narrative of the Northern Irish conflict
from one of ethno-national identity to spatially, temporally contingent
identities. Importantly, these prisoners reject the paramilitary prisoners
use of ethno-national and religious identity within the prison to determine
which wing to house in, and instead perform an identity predicated upon
the geography of prison wings in and of themselves. The prisoners give the
wings meanings that are not predetermined such as they are in the political
prisoner narrative. This is a specific articulation of a larger process at work
in acting which requires a minimal dissociation from ones own subject
position and identification with another perspective, thereby affording
unique opportunities for reflection which are conducive to empathy. The
act of distancing oneself from ones social role is one of the most fundamental expressions of the subjects irreducible freedom.
In addition to asking viewers and participants alike to reconsider their
notion of prisoners as violent and uncultured, Mickey B also has the ability
to challenge the gender binary which opposes the machismo of a prison
to the femininity of theatre. Although this applies broadly to the play as a
whole, the clearest site for its expression is the role of Ladyboy, a transvestite
take on Lady Macbeth, who carefully manipulates her husband behind the
scenes of his public life. In clarifying her performative theory of gender,
Judith Butler explains to claim that all gender is like drag is to suggest

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


that imitation is at the heart of the heterosexual project and its gender
binarisms, that drag is not a secondary imitation that presupposes a prior
and original gender, but that hegemonic heterosexuality is itself a constant
and repeated effort to imitate its own idealizations (Butler, 1993: 125).
This is also applicable to other normative definitions of the subject which
try to pass themselves off as essential, concealing the way they are actively
produced by networks of power which govern our discourse. Similar to
the way Butler claims all gender is drag, we may then claim all normative
functions of the subject are mere roles to be acted. Far from being mere
theoretical abstraction, this Foucauldian reading of Mickey B reveals the
possibilities for resistance opened up by the production, the most fundamental expression of which is an irreducible sense of self-authorship.
In light of these readings, a few observations should be made. First,
prisoners have used Mickey B to not only resist the institution of the prison
proper, but moreover to resist the dominating discourse ofthe paramilitary
prisoner as the primary site of resistance. These prisoners reclaim a power
for the ODC that is distinctly opposed to narratives that celebrate paramilitary prisoner resistance. The discursive class that articulates crime as such
is not solely the state, but is also the political prisoners who rhetorically
detest the criminals whom they reject a community with. In this way, the
political prisoner ironically reifies Thatchers discourse regarding criminals
as our most damaged because even a fellow prisoner, albeit acting under
the auspices of political action, articulates the ODCs act as non-political,
despite the fact that texts of all forms consistently tell the ODCs that they
access a similar history and context (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009:
110). The prisoners bring to light the dual-delinquency narrative that paints
them not only as delinquents within society but delinquents within the
prison regime because their reason for crime is ostensibly non-political.
Second, the prisoners use their own vernacular not only to reclaim
power from the marked political prisoner, but also to reclaim the celebrated
Shakespearean language of a manageable national conflict in the form of
Scotland for the unmanageability of the Northern Irish conflict. Though
Scotland has significant divisions it is currently governed by a party that
consistently calls for the secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom
they remain outside of the media discourse that paints rebellion in the



North, both against the State and against those who oppose the State, as
unmanageable and undesirable. Scottish rebellion is broadly understood
as a cultural marker of manageable masculinity, rather than the excessive and chaotic violence of Northern Ireland, because the movement for
Scottish separation has remained primarily linguistic and safely within the
confines of the political sphere of democracy. Separatists are understood
as masculine/rebels rather than the feminine/colonised people, while at
the same time not making that rebellion too inconvenient for the colonial
power or the apathetic or unionist Scottish citizens. As efforts to rehabilitate Northern Irish society focus on bringing Protestant and Catholic,
Republican and Loyalist, together, these prisoners instead call for attention
to those who have been silenced by this society without the silencing being
predicated upon religious difference. In this way, the prisoners argue not
for the clear, neat Scottish ending of convenient divide as is seen at the
end of Macbeth, but instead call for a carnivalesque reading that recognises that unmanageable masculinity that is controlled through national
reconciliation discourses is not enough to make a neat, happy ending for
Northern Irish society.11
Third, by coming onto the set high on drugs (Magill and MarquisMuradaz, 2009: 111) and rejecting an entirely drama therapy model (Wray,
2011: 1), the prisoners also disrupt the charity narrative of those committed
to enabling non-conforming life prisoners to act out and understand the
implications of their crimes (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 113).
The prisoners distance themselves not only from their roles within the
show proper, but also from the roles ESC and the prison system create


Some Republican groups, including irgi, are focusing on bringing together individuals on the basis of socio-economic oppression, rather than on religious difference.
These efforts are slow to take because individuals in socio-economically oppressed
areas have been conditioned around non-class identity markers such as religious
division that lead to a denial of the similarities of other forms of oppression. This
mirrors efforts by third wave feminists to acknowledge similarity between women
with overlapping oppressions that continue to work against each other along racial,
class and gender differences rather than working to form coalitions along the basis
of perceived sex.

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


for them. ESC sets itself up as working against the prison regime through
their creative investment in rehabilitation and their desire to get the prisoners to alter their self-talk so that they wont engage in recidivism. The
director emphasises that he [felt] compelled to try and reduce the level
of recidivism in our prisons. If we can reduce it by one person, that means
one less victim (Acharya, 2010). The assumption of this discourse is that
societys rules are reasonable and a prisoner who has the ability to discover the wrongness of their crime will be able to move within the social
system in a more productive way. Magill and Marquis-Muradaz hope that
empowering violent criminals to transform and heal themselves will hopefully reduce recidivism and consequently, the number of victims (2009:
115). The ESC narrative relies upon a repentant individual who is willing
to perform acceptance of the label violent criminal from individuals who
claim to reject such normative impositions.
These prisoners meet the expectation of a grateful, emotionally changed
prisoner while on camera only to disrupt this role off-camera by way of
continued delinquency. Indeed, several of the actor-inmates reoffended
after their release and ended up back in jail, including one important
cast-member [who] failed to return to prison after being sent home on
compassionate leave (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 111). The crime
committed against the production was by the media, according to Magill
and Marquis-Muradaz, insofar as the horrific details of his original crime
were all over the press and the prison took an embarrassing public beating
(2009: 111). They fail to explain that the prisoner was jailed for attacking
a man who was sleeping in his home with a hammer in an effort to get his
car keys. They fail to take the prisoners crime at face value and in so doing
silence the prisoner as effectively as other disciplinary power structures.
Instead, viewers are expected to understand the limits of dramatherapy,
and appreciate the hard work of ESC, in the face of this personal slight.
We are conditioned to understand that any good citizen would appreciate
the two months of investment by the cast and crew, making them return
to the prison filled with a sense of gratitude. We are asked to read this as a
tragic, rather than a queer, response to the social need for a happy resolution to every narrative. ESC would like the prisoners to come to terms with
their crimes, in order to make the internal journey from understanding to



acceptance and forgiveness that is necessary for them to move on (Magill

and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 113). The ESC narrative is predicated upon
the prisoners playing their part in the broader prison narrative in which
authoritarianism breeds dependence and resistance that frequently end in
destruction (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 110). They believe telling
through fiction, through the mask of a character is a step towards addressing the motivations and implications of their crime (Magill and MarquisMuradaz, 2009: 114). Instead, the prisoners resist the prison regime and
the therapeutic narrative that ultimately reifies the normative archetypes
which it produces. The prisoners perform behind the bars of the prison
only until the moment when the doors are opened.
This queered response is found furthermore in the prisoner who insists
Im straight. Lets get that down just in case. Were in gaol. People have
dodgy thoughts these days (Category A Mickey B, 2009, as quoted in Wray,
2011: 12). The assertion of heterosexuality within the feminised theatre project rejects ESCs expectation that the prisoners will be more open-minded
after this production. When confronted with a cross-dressing prisoner, the
other prisoners maintain masculinity insofar as they work toward socioeconomic success and social status via fame in the film medium, despite
the fact that a primary fear of the security department was that ESC was
grouping the bad boys together and rewarding them by making them
into movie stars (Magill and Marquis-Muradaz, 2009: 109). Capitalism is
inherently patriarchal insofar as economic success is viewed as both good
and masculine while simultaneously granting men greater access to economic success. In this film, gender and sex binaries constantly turn back
on themselves. It is not that a cross-dresser is interesting and revolutionary because it necessarily indicates an awareness of alternative sexualities.
This performance turns back on itself and becomes a heteronormative
expression once disgust at the real performance of drag is expressed.12 The
prisoner articulates a normative identity within the carnival of theatrical,


Wrays reading of Ladyboys gender performance and its implication for the prisoners outside of the ESC narratives is highly recommended.

Macbeth in Maghaberry: Corrupting Power Relations


queer sexuality that reifies resistance even to those performances of therapy

imposed by the charitable power structure of ESC.
Ultimately, these prisoners are in the process of making and remaking their subjectivity constantly. They react to and act upon the various
discourses of power that intersect with their bodies, from gender expectations to political prisoner fetishisation, and therapeutic charity narratives
of prison regimes. The prisoners reshape the broader national narrative
of Northern Ireland and question whether there can ever be such a neat,
Scottish ending to the Troubles in the broadest sense. The resistance of
these prisoners does not fit conveniently into a narrative of reform, either
of their subjectivity or the prison regime, but instead parodies that subjectivity through the masquerade of layered roles. As a result, the prisoners
performance moves away from a binary existence of good-bad, prisonercitizen, giver-receiver, straight-gay, Catholic-Protestant, Good Nation-Bad
Nation, to a layered, multiple existence that asks individuals, imprisoned
or otherwise, to re-conceive of their strategies of resistance.

Acharya, K. (2010), Mickey B shot at Maghaberry, Culture Northern Ireland, 12
October. <http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article/87/mickey %20b/
0/0/1/mickey-b-shot-at-maghaberry>, accessed 17 May 2011.
BBC News (2009), Jailhouse blues for prison service, 9 June. <http://news.bbc.
co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8091747.stm>, accessed 17 May 2011.
Butler, J. (1993), Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, Routledge, New
ESC (2011), Buy Mickey B DVD. <http://www.esc-film.com/buy.asp>, accessed 17
May 2011.
Foucault, M. (1980), Power/Knowledge, in Gordon, C. (ed), Selected Interviews and
Other Writings 19721977, Pantheon, New York.
Foucault, M. (1984), Nietzsche, genealogy, history, in Rabinow, P. (ed), The Foucault
Reader, Pantheon, New York, pp.76100.



Foucault, M. (1995), Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, trans. by A. Sheridan, Vintage, New York.
Foucault, M. (2003), The Ethics of the concern of the self as a practice of freedom,
in Rabinow, P. and Rose, N. (eds), The Essential Foucault, The New Press, New
York, pp.154.
Magill, T. and Marquis-Muradaz, J. (2009), The making of Mickey B, a modern adaptation of Macbeth filmed in a maximum security prison in Northern Ireland, in
Jennings, S. (ed), Dramatherapy and Social Theatre: Necessary Dialogues, Routledge, New York, pp.10916.
McDonald, H. (2009). Northern Ireland prison boss quits over dissident
threats: Steve Rodford leaves Maghaberry prison after personal details allegedly found in cell holding Irish republican inmate, Guardian, 7 December.
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/dec/07/northern-ireland-prison-bossquits?INTCMP=SRCH>, accessed 17 May 2011.
McDowell, L. (2006). In an amazing letter to the Telegraph, Michael Stone reveals
his plan for murder at Stormont, Belfast Telegraph, 29 November. <http://www.
accessed 17 May 2011.
Wray, R. (2011), The Morals of Macbeth and Peace as Process: Adapting Shakespeare
in Northern Irelands Maximum Security Prison, Shakespeare Quarterly, Fall
(12), pp.119.


The Confidence Game:

Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures

In a revealing intervention in the debate over Scottish devolution,

the former Conservative Prime Minister (and close ally of the current
Conservative Prime Minister), John Major, stated that the implications
of recent political developments must be tackled head-on. Addressing
the landslide victory of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the May
2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, Major claimed that [e]ach year of
devolution has moved Scotland further from England. Scottish ambition
is fraying English tolerance. This is a tie that will snap unless the issue is
resolved (Robinson, 2011). For the political commentator Gerry Hassan,
Majors speech was further evidence of the strategy of the Conservative
establishment (which he considers to include the usual suspects of The
Daily Mail, The Spectator, The Economist, among others) to reframe the
debate in terms of the politics of constitutionalism. Hassan claimed that
[t]he Tories are going to do everything they can to retain Scotland in the
union, drawing on their adaptive, flexible unionist tradition, and do so in
a way which maintains the status quo and current deformed nature of the
central British state (Hassan, 2011a). Yet, it was the conscious avoidance
of the nationalistic debate over the Union as much as the Labour Partys
relentless negative campaigning that, in some commentators eyes, was
instrumental in securing that SNP triumph (Carrell, 2011a; Hassan 2011b).
Instead, the very idea of Scottishness was painted in a new language of
cultural confidence and diversity. Scotland is on a journey, announced
the SNPs election manifesto, and the path ahead is a bright one. Now is a
time for Scotland to keep moving forward (SNP, 2011). Furthermore, the
appeal to, and construction of, cultural distinctiveness if not uniqueness



is cleverly used by the SNP to forge the goal of independence almost as

an inevitability. As Neal Ascherson points out:
The 40-page SNP manifesto is a gaudy encyclopedia of visions, promises and relentless optimism But Salmonds plans for Scotlands recovery and progress full taxation powers for Holyrood, control of immigration, rights to at least some oil and gas
revenue, a Scottish voice in the European Union could be brought up short by the
limits of devolution and of the Union itself. And then making the large assumption
that Salmonds grand programme was already showing results independence could
come to seem practical, necessary, even a way ofkeeping Scotland on a course already
chosen. Getting the Scots to that point of view within five years appears improbable.
But so did the scale of the election victory. (2011: 8)

Hence, the SNP-promoted notion of Scotland as a distinct cultural entity

provides the cultural rationale for political independence: political autonomy and sovereignty is presented as the logical and necessary outcome
for ratifying what has already taken place in cultural terms. Stripped of
the rhetorical flourishes that cloak the independence option, the SNPs
project is actually little more than a reheated version of its long-standing
progressivist, nationalistic project.
In a similar, if arguably more crude fashion, elite political discourse in
the Republic of Ireland has sought to harness ideas of cultural self-assurance and pluralism to undercut pressing issues of institutional, political,
social and economic reform. For example, introducing Barack Obama to
the crowds in Dublins city centre on the occasion of the Presidents state
visit in May 2011, the recently elected Fine Gael Taoiseach, Enda Kenny,
celebrated Irelands unique, untouchable wealth:
Wealth that can never be accumulated in banks, or measured by the markets or
traded on the stock exchange. Because it remains intact and alive deep inside our
people. In the heart-stopping beauty of our country. In the transforming currency
of the Irish heart, imagination and soul. (Kenny, 2011)

Kenny is literally correct: given the size of Irish state debt, it will be down
to Irish workers to pay it off for generations to come (Kinsella, 2011). The
linguistic dexterity at the heart of Kennys bombast is twofold. Firstly, it
is evident in the sleight of hand that writes out the inheritors of Irish debt

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


at the same time as it emphasises the countrys cultural wealth. Secondly,

by unwittingly admitting that the beauty of the country and its cultural
inheritance are naturally the only wealth that is left since the banking collapse, Kenny reveals himself as symptomatic of the moral decline of the
Irish state in which responsibility is evaded in a smokescreen of nationalistic handwringing or xenophobic attacks on the Brits, the EU, France, and
Germany (or a combination of all). This tendency is, however, not limited
to fringe nationalists but extends to business leaders and economists (see,
for example, McConnell, 2011).
By comparing recent political developments in Ireland and Scotland,
this chapter suggests that a fundamental rebranding is taking place as a direct
response to economic circumstances, which harnesses culture for political
ends. Borrowing the language of post-nationalism and postmodernism and
thus bearing all the hallmarks of pluralism, diversity and multiculturalism,
the recent reinvention of Scottishness and Irishness effectively works to
suspend all other questions of identity and belonging, whether they are
filtered through the categories of class, gender, age, ethnicity, and locale. It
should also be noted that this rebranding also plays into the hands of the
Tories whose Big Society proceeds from the foundational intellectual
insight that the new age of austerity depends on everyone pulling together,
regardless of economic status. In this way, the economic dimension, which
we regard as including questions of class and social responsibility, is tamed
and put to use for what are essentially middle-class and nationalistic ideas
of community, nation and society. As we point out, this is only partially
successful simply because the effort put into taming and harnessing class
and social justice merely awakens suspicion in the motivation of those
doing the harnessing, together with the import of their ideas.
Of course, the intervention of politicians and their supporters in the
realm of culture and the attempts to rebrand national identity are not
completely new phenomena in either Scotland or Ireland. Prior to the
2007 Scottish Parliamentary Election, the long-time supporter ofthe SNP
and all things Scottish-nationalist, Sir Sean Connery, sought to rouse his
compatriots through an affectionate reflection on the role of culture in
Scottish life along with a call to arms:



Our arts should be Scotlands window and voice to the world. I know that the SNP
is Scotlands Party and it has the right ideas to make positive things happen for
Scotland. Together we can open the door to a new era of optimism and progress for
us all. There will never be a better opportunity then [sic] now. (SNP, 2007)

Sadly, for the SNP at least, Connery was correct. The opportunity he
envisioned was stillborn: overtaken by the global economic collapse in
2008, the SNPs new Scotland faces a future of Tory-imposed cuts. Our
argument is twofold: firstly, what is new in the project of national rebranding is the attempt to use the language of cultural renaissance to write-out
the new social, political and economic reality. Secondly, in this project,
culture is being harnessed as a harbinger of a new, post-nationalist age. In
other words, culture is used to rewrite the traditional idea of a kernel of
Irishness and/or Scottishness as being simply not-English (or, even more
pertinently, not-Tory). In place of these traditional imaginaries a new
vision of Irish and Scottish uniqueness is being enshrined in the political
discourse in both countries. So if Ireland was conceived as the first postcolonial country (and, for some, also the last to be decolonised) (see, for
example, Kiberd, 1996; Deane, 1990; Lloyd, 1993; see also Howe, 2000, for
an alternative interpretation), it is now seen as a harbinger of a postmodern/
post-nationalist age: Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, for instance, considers the
entire history of Anglo-Irish literature as a perennial site of the postmodern (2006: 6). Similarly, Scotland was formerly presented by critics
such as Robert Crawford as both inspiration for postcolonial writing and
also as the very origin of the colonial cultural hegemony which it had to
resist namely, as the title of Crawfords 1998 book suggests, the inventor
of English Literature (Crawford 1998; Craig 2004: 238). More recently,
it has been reconsidered as a precursor of what is now considered as the
postmodern conception of identity (McCrone, 2001: 152).
The paradoxical content of the repainting of Scottishness as newly
exceptional helps to bring together ostensibly distinctive critical visions
just as it creates a congruence of cultural visions among what are ostensibly
contradictory political forces in the Irish Republic. For example, it lies at
the heart of the protests against the Queens visit to the Republic by Sinn
Fin president, Gerry Adams, the erstwhile ideological opponent of Fine

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


Gael. Adams argued that the visit contravened the principles of the 1998
Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. That agreement, he stated, provided the
foundation upon which new relationships can be forged a process that
would entail, he said, a reassertion of Irish sovereignty and independence
and a reshaping of political identities:
The new Ireland must embrace our islands diversity in its fullest sense. This includes
English and Scottish influences, the sense of Britishness felt by many unionists, as
well as indigenous and traditional Irish culture and the cultures of people who have
come to Ireland in recent times. (Adams, 2011)

Thus, it is the politics of inclusivity, of identity-as-plurality, of sovereigntyas-diversity that are to be upheld and extolled. Culture(s) are, in this vision,
still utilitarian and to be placed at the service of nation-building.
What is taking place essentially is that the economic is being displaced in favour of the identitarian. In other words, issues that underline
the economic aspect of life, such as class and social responsibility, are
sidelined and/or subsumed within questions of identity politics. While
the subjugation of the historical realm to political concerns is a widespread and prevalent practice in which the mores and lessons learned
by one generation or governing cohort are written onto other classes or
generations (McGrattan, 2011), the subjugation of culture to political
imperatives often involves what Colin Graham has in other circumstances
described as an aestheticisation of national achievement (2001: 88). The
SNPs recent electoral campaign epitomised this process by recruiting
prominent cultural figures to promote a confident Scottishness (Kane,
2011). Through a special SNP YouTube channel, actor Alan Cumming
and artist Jack Vettriano declared their endorsement of the SNP and its
causes,1 while Scottish literati, such as novelist and painter Alasdair Gray
after a brief defection to the Liberal Democrats as well as national poet
Edwin Morgan, who left the SNP 1m in his will, and Liz Lochhead, the

See <http://www.youtube.com/theSNP#p/a/f/0/C8N5dphbfKI> and <http://

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo7CZH8hgpE>, accessed 10 June 2011.



newly appointed Scots Makar in succession to Morgan, reaffirmed their

longstanding support (Carrell, 2011b).
Such an artistic vanguard seems indeed intended to secure not only
political but also cultural hegemony for the SNP, as Pat Kane (2011: n.p.)
suggests in an article in The Guardians G2 supplement on Scottish independence. For this strategy of constructing Scotlands cultural icons as
the figureheads of a neo-nationalist movement aims not only to detoxify
the Nationalist brand but, more importantly, to turn a vote for them
into an expression of confidence in, and optimism about, Scotlands prospects (Kane, 2011). This tactic resonates in the ways in which Scottish
culture specifically literature has been forged as the expression (and
stronghold) of a resurgent nationalism following the 1979 devolution
debacle. In an example that is typical of this sentiment, Christopher
Whyte asserts: In the absence of an elected political authority, the task
of representing the nation has been repeatedly devolved to its writers
(1998: 284). However, it was previously Scotlands democratic deficit
and lack of political power that was considered to be both a reason and
an inspiration for Scottish literatures role in disseminating and sustaining confidence in the Scottish nation, as, for instance, is apparent in
Douglas Gifford comments in his contribution to The Edinburgh History
of Scottish Literature:
It is tempting to see this change in confidence as somehow related to the 1979
Devolution referendum and the growing assertion of Scottish identity and its varieties that emerged almost in defiance of that quasi-democratic debacle. With this
new confidence, Scottish fiction approached the millennium as a standard bearer
for Scottish culture (2007: 237)

Initially, it was hoped by many critics that the reconstitution of a Scottish

Parliament would free Scottish writing of that representational burden
towards its imagined community, to allow it at last to be a literature
first and foremost, rather than the expression of a nationalist movement
(Whyte, 1998: 284). This sentiment was, for example, echoed by Catherine
Lockerbie, director of the Edinburgh Book Festival, who stated that now
that devolution has been achieved, people dont have to prove they are
Scottish writers anymore, and adds that it will also absolve authors of the

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


obligation to write those quasi-political novels (cited in Massie, 2002: 1).

Equally, where critic Alex Massie acknowledges that the rebirth of the
Scottish Parliament has actually been for many a disappointment, he considered that it will ultimately prove a blessing for literature in this country since it may free novelists from overtly political writing. Devolution,
so banal in other ways, may perversely liberate the imagination (2002:
2). This reduction of the political to the national reflects and prefigures
the shift that we earlier identified as the appropriation by the national of
the cultural realm. Furthermore, it ignores the fact that Scottish writers
have often addressed a more complex matrix of concerns that transgress
an exclusively national question, while also challenging such nationalistic
limitations (Lehner, 2011).
Notably, very similar opinions have been expressed in terms of Irish
writing where Irelands new status and role in the twenty-first century elicited numerous self-referential encomiums and eulogies. For instance, Colm
Tibn celebrates in his preface to The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction the
fact that recent Irish (womens) writing has proven itself as post-Freudian,
post-feminist and, of course (three cheers!), post-nationalist (1999: xxxiii).
Such praise depends on a shift in analytical lens and in Irelands proffered
status from being post-colonial to post-national. As Eve Patten argued, the
fiction of the contemporary period is better categorised as post-national
than as post-colonial (2006: 259). In other words, for Pattens analysis
to be maintained in any kind of way a re-periodisation must be assumed
whereby the contemporary is implicitly defined in terms ofthe Celtic Tiger
period and projected onto literature. Just as the Scottish critics discussed
above define the contemporary in terms of devolution, the import of this
strategy is to subsume questions of class, gender and marginality within
mainstream nationalistic discourse(s) and understandings.
This anticipation of a post-nationalist state was pioneered by the Irish
critic and philosopher, Richard Kearney, who galvanises the linkage with
post-modernism. Kearney, for example, directly references post-modernist
ideas about the decentralisation of power:



It has been suggested that postmodern theory can have radical implications for
politics The postmodern theory of power puts the modern concept of the nationstate in question. It points towards a decentralising and dissemination of sovereignty
which, in the European context, at least, signals the possibility of new configurations
of federal-regional government. (1997: 61)

For Kearney, this has occurred in post-1998 Ireland, in which ancient

antagonisms are laid to rest under the mantle of the European Union.
This is essentially a teleological and tautological vision that supports and
promotes a postmodern morality. For in this vision, adolescent nationalistic
emotions are exorcised and the 1998 Agreement is simply an offshoot of
the EU enlargement process, with all its grown-up promises of peaceful
co-existence, tolerance and plurality: as Kearney explains both sovereign
governments signed away their exclusivist sovereignty claims over Northern
Ireland and came of age (2000: 21).
For Kearney, as for Scottish critics, the contemporary is constituted
by a postmodern version of nationalism. As Colin Graham has pointed
out, post-nationalism is part of the same teleology and discourse as the
traditional nationalistic, self-determination and state-building project. He
explains, [p]ost-nationalism evolves from rather than rejects the nation; but
its dependency on the maintenance of the conceptual value of the nation
goes unrecognised (2001: 98). In this regard, the new multiculturalism
of post-devolution Scotland and post-Celtic Tiger Ireland can be seen as
regurgitating and, at the same time, revitalising the old nationalistic tropes
of difference, cultural uniqueness and parochial egoism. The Irish Times
cultural commentator, Mick Heaney, for example, recently questioned
the proposals by the Minister for Arts in the Irish Republic to convert the
site of the Bank of Ireland at College Green in the centre of Dublin into
a cultural space. For Heaney, the attractiveness of culture for solving the
nations economic woes is clear:
Supposedly untainted by the avarice of the boom years, the arts are now seen as one
of the countrys few remaining valuable assets. If harnessed properly, the theory goes,
the countrys inherent artistic richness will aid recovery, projecting positivity, inviting tourism and even, outlandishly, spurring growth in so-called creative industries
such as software. (2011: 16)

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


Heaneys assessment that the commodification of culture has at best

added a patina of cultural respectability for a population that continued
to delude itself that it was living in a prosperous nation is compelling (ibid).
Furthermore, it resonates with the re-periodisation of culture and the contemporary in ushering in a new (post-nationalist) age that is also apparent
in studies of Northern Irish literature. Reflecting the self-congratulatory
verbiage of the consociational victors of the peace process (as distinct
from the self-exculpatory verbiage of the perpetrators of the violence),
this vision depicts Northern Ireland in solidly post-modern terms (Kelly,
2005). Seemingly unaware of the moral vacuity involved in that depiction, Laura Pelaschiar, for instance, rejoices in Northern Irelands new era.
Believing (or claiming) that Northern Irelands postmodernity seems to
have become almost a necessity for the redemption and rediscovery of the
Northern capital and of its spirit, she describes a post-modern [Belfast] as
the only space where it is possible to build and articulate a (post)national
conscience, the only location for any possible encyclopaedic, multivoiced
and multi-ethnic development of Northern society (2000: 117). Here
the ideological tendency of postmodernism to proclaim itself as the end
of history and meta-narratives is reproduced, unthinkingly, and its thrust
as a hegemonic and totalising force is vouchsafed. Where the victims of
terrorist or state-sponsored violence feature in this redemptive, reconciled utopia is never mentioned. Indeed, to paraphrase Adorno, when in
the house of murderers or when singing the praises of a peaceful postnational Northern Ireland it is unseemly to mention the fact that ethnic
entrepreneurs and, increasingly, terrorist gunmen and gunwomen sit at the
heart of government.2
This (re)periodisation is not simply academic or historical. Insofar as
it obscures resilient and deepening structural inequalities, the very act of
periodising a post-national Scotland or Ireland implies a deferral; and one
that that involves unsettling ethical implications. That these have become
blatant since 2008 reveals the inadequacy of the hitherto existing and

In the house of the hangman one should not speak of the noose, otherwise one
might seem to harbour resentment (Adorno, 2003: 3).



mainstream critical framework deployed in the three state-formations

across the Irish Sea. In this framework, the post-national is almost unconsciously linked to the contemporary and applied to literary and cultural
analysis without regard to historical inequities, in much the same way as
the postmodern ideology proclaims its victory over class-based struggles
(and all other ideologies). The pluralistic, multi-vocal inclusivity of these
ideologies is deceptive. And it is in that very deception that the moral
malaise and malignancy lies. For, in alignment with Grahams critique, what
the post-national impulse does is to usher back in an age of surreptitious
nationalism. In the post-2008 world, this nationalism is fundamentally
conservative and bourgeois. Indeed, as Aaron Kelly has pointed out, the
seeds of this middle-class conservatism were always present within the
post-nationalist ideological project:
post-nationalism pursues the final repression of class in its discourse of cultural difference, its normative society of differentiated individuals. Therein, class antagonism is
rewritten as cultural diversity, a revalued sign ofthe post-nations healthy polyphony,
so that, divested of its own terms and context, the language of class becomes simply
one register amongst others of a cultural relativism that rewords bourgeois hegemony
as social pluralism. (2007: 258)

As we have discussed above, the ploy of a pluralistic rewording is evident

in Scottish cultural criticism, where the resort to devolution on the one
hand, and the ideas of a nationalist movement on the other, while seeming
to critique (and/or bolster) the SNPs bid for culture hegemony, become
inappropriate for the current dispensation. Indeed, read in a post-2008
context, simplistic ideas about wrapping devolution, nationalist emergence
and political hegemony in cultural terms reproduce rather than undercut
the SNPs project. Not only are such analyses out-dated, but their argumentative structure and the import of their logic are redundant: in the same
movement in which they prioritise the cultural/aesthetic, such modes of
analysis also defer the economic.
Secondly, such arguments have already been undercut by the SNPs
own rhetoric. For example, in a 2004 pamphlet written by Kenny MacAskill
(then an SNP leadership hopeful and current Cabinet Secretary for Justice),
the party identified (admittedly, somewhat belatedly) the demands of

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


what Robert Cooper has called the post-modern state (Cooper, 2002).
Addressing the apparently contradictory demands of Independence in an
Interdependent World, MacAskill states that since a competitive economy
is essential, Scotlands nationalist camp should unambiguously promote
Devolution, Globalisation, and a New World Order, as his chapter title
proclaims (MacAskill, 2004: 16, 27). The order of the day therefore is not
only nationalism, but a purported post-nationalism: an aesthetic that is
saturated with political import. Analyses that miss that economic dimension simply play into the hands of what is a tried-and-tested strategy of
nationalistic entrepreneurs.
The problem is that the kind of cultural analysis that forsakes the
economic in favour of the identitarian risks taking the claims of those
entrepreneurs at face value. Essentially, it misses the fact that the assertion of multiculturalism, interdependence and pluralism by nationalists in
Scotland and Ireland is also an affirmation of end goals of self-sufficiency,
independence and self-determination. It is this Janus-faced, chameleon-like
quality of nationalism that enables it to secure hegemony through what the
Marxist critic Antonio Gramsci called transformism: a process wherein
popular discourses and sectional interests are appropriated and absorbed
and then rewritten in the language of the dominant classes (Gramsci, 1971:
5860). Hence, through the language of pluralism and multiculturalism,
the demand for universal equality becomes rewritten as inclusiveness;
an inclusion which entails the assimilation and containment of various
identity struggles and forms of otherness within the hegemonic norms of
the bourgeoisie that pertain, as Wendy Brown points out, to the white
masculine middle-class ideal (1995: 61).
That the transformative energies of (post-)nationalism retain their
power is apparent in the way that they have turned cultural critics and
erstwhile analysts of state power into parodic versions of Gramscian
organic intellectuals. Styling themselves as part of an anti-establishment
vanguard that is disruptive of the prevailing order (Gramsci, 1971: 59),
the travesty of their role lies in their unarticulated reinforcing of that order.
Thus, just as with the post-nationalistic drive of Scottish critics, so too
is Pelaschiars mode of analysis serviceable to the nationalistic imperatives of state-building. Whereas in Scotland, these imperatives are defined



largely by a centre-ground that has been vacated by Labour and left to the
SNP and its aficionados, in Northern Ireland it resides in the ethnic tribune parties of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fin. In the Irish
Republic, the essentially conservative outlook falls under the auspices and
guardianship of the representatives of the urban and rural bourgeoisie
(with the urban-based, ultra-nationalists of Sinn Fin waiting in the wings)
(Coulter, 2011).3 Accounting for context, the result is similar in each case:
the prioritisation of progress and state-, nation-, and party-building and a
subsequent marginalisation of class politics in Edinburgh and Dublin as
well as a (re)marginalisation of victims voices in Belfast. The role of such
critics is to lend an appearance of democratic legitimacy to these projects:
critical voices who, through (at the very least) dint of over-exuberance, end
by buttressing that which they purport to critique.
What does this all mean for culture and politics? Hegemonies may
not necessarily be a bad thing certainly not for those who profit. The key
point is that despite the benefits that accrue to political and cultural elites,
hegemonies are never complete. As we discussed above, its very claims to
fluidity and incompleteness belie its absorptive and totalising qualities
and its encompassing desire. In other words, the post-national agenda is
haunted from without and within. For what the post-nationalist vision
seeks to exorcise is the economic. The various forms that exorcism takes
writing-out, repression, bad faith are unsustainable in the long run.
Certainly, the particular deferral that is involved in the post-national
namely, the economic and the associated and intertwined questions of class
and social responsibility is no longer tenable, and has been revealed in
its ugly glory since the banking collapse of 2008. So just as Sean Connerys

Of course, since Sinn Fin is not presently a party of government in the Republic
it remains to be seen whether its emphasis on grassroots activism may turn into a
populist right wing approach similar to Fianna Fil, or a radical left of centre critique
of the nationalistic ideology that provides the framework for the state. Its previous
track record in attempting to out-green its rivals with its continued emphasis on
commemorating Irish Republican Army volunteers (or paramilitaries), along with its
tokenistic protests at Conservative-driven cuts in the North do little to convince
us as to its leftist credentials.

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


dream of a resurgent, prosperous Scotland floundered on the rocks of

economic upheaval, the Ireland of Enda Kenny and, in albeit a different
way, Gerry Adams (both in his previous roles North of the border and
his present incarnation as a member of the Irish Dil), is haunted by the
ghosts of the Celtic Tiger.
What has been notable is how the responses to the banking collapse
have been reflected in new forms of exorcism in both Scotland and Ireland.
These responses make present that absence within post-nationalism. The
lack of social consciousness and responsibility, the simultaneous absorption
and muting of class and related inequalities that sustain the post-national
have become more and more visible and urgent. The attempt to fill the
hollow moral centre has, unsurprisingly, been filtered and managed by
the proponents of post-nationalism donning a moralistic attire. On the
one hand, in Scotland, a nationalist party is voted in on the basis that it
is left-wing but not Labour; in Ireland, on the other hand, a middle-class
coalition has taken office with a promise of Lets Get Ireland Working
(Fine Gael, 2011).
In Scotland, this exorcism is evidenced in the claim of a new and culturally confident Scotland. According to Alex Salmond, for example, the
SNPs victory illustrated the fact that Scotland had shown faith in itself .
As political commentator Libby Brooks remarks: It was a vote not for
imminent separation but for a [new] cultural understanding of independence more nuanced than the fantasy politics of the late 70s (2011). This
includes not only a belief but a pride in a new social agenda and progressive politics that have made Scotland the putative land of milk and honey
(Fraser and Cusick, 2001). As the biblical reference implies, the appropriation of culture for political purposes brings with it a moral agenda. The
point is clarified in a January 2010 statement by the Minister for Culture,
Fiona Hyslop. Extolling Scotlands world-renowned distinctive cultural
life, Hyslop claimed that
I firmly believe that a Scotland with more control over its own affairs a Scotland
more confident in itself would see fresh creativity shine through as a result. In
turn, a more confident nation leads to an even more creative one a virtuous circle
of increasing confidence and creativity. (Scottish Government, 2010)



Thus, as devolution purportedly inspires not only cultural confidence but

also artistic creativity, it demands individuals to follow suit. But political buoyancy gives way to moral imperatives: the underlying implication
here is that the current creativity is not enough for a fully independent
nation, artists musts live up to their assigned role, and their reward for so
doing is that they will in turn fully evolve. Culture and politics, intertwined
and working together usher Scotland into the neo-political, postmodern
global order; and, as Hyslop outlines, the rewards are there for all who are
willing to recognise them:
There is a hard edge to this, of course, as Scotland trades on the international recognition of its culture and heritage. It is a major attraction for visitors and showcases
our country as a diverse and exciting place to live and work; so increased confidence
and creativity can only be good for business. (Ibid.)

Unfortunately, the prospect of a virtuous circle might mean that the

moral centre itself is hollow or ringed-in and therefore cut off from public
examination. While Scotland has been embracing a future of assurance and
moral upstanding, the debate in Ireland has at least begun to explore what
might lie at the heart of that circle. Yet, similarly to Scotland, this debate is
often limited by nationality. The trauma provoked by the banking collapse
has led to a revival of national sentiment and a return to past glories. For
example, the Irish Times columnist, John Waters, described the responses
to the banking collapse as bearing all the features of a religious impulse.
Just as people tend to find religion when bad things happen according to
Waters (2011), so too has the Irish body politic been hankering after our
nationalistic past.
One objection to the notion that a national reappraisal has begun is
the idea that actually there is nothing new in all of this: Irish and Scottish
politics and culture have not only hankered but have remained stuck in
the past. Yet, this is to miss the point, for it is only by working with and
through our past experiences that we can engage in the present and the
future. The core of the debate concerns how that engagement is taking
place. Joe Cleary, for example, voiced disquiet on this issue at the height
of the Celtic Tiger years: to date, very little Irish writing can be said to

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


have contemplated the vagaries and vicissitudes of the new global order of
which Ireland is a constituent part (2007: 12). More recently, the point was
taken up and given spark in a coruscating reproach of contemporary Irish
fiction by the Berlin-based Irish novelist, Julian Gough, who complained
that Irish writers have
Become a priestly caste, scribbling by candlelight, cut off from the electric current of
the culture Weve abolished the Catholic clergy, and replaced them with novelists.
They wear black, they preach, they are concerned for our souls. Feck off. (Flood, 2010)

Taking up the baton, the Irish Times cultural and political commentator
Fintan OToole has alluded to the fact that this is essentially a moral issue.
Specifically, OToole gestures towards the idea that the debate is about how
society comes to view the trauma of national bankruptcy in ethical terms:
It is certainly true that, for the most part, Irish writing (indeed Irish art as a whole)
was not very good at reflecting boom-time Ireland. It is also true that this has been a
problem for the culture a society without resonant images of its present self is prey
to precisely the kind of self-delusion and false consciousness that had such disastrous
consequences for our economy and society. (2010)

The point is, therefore, not simply to look to the past for lessons for contemporary (or future) life; rather, it lies in the act of looking: who is doing
the looking and why their vision is clearer or standpoint higher than others.
What is at stake, then, is not simply the question of whether artists are
engaging but rather how that engagement is taking place and how individuals in Scottish and Irish society are responding to that engagement.
One notable recent example of this refusal to indulge in nationalistic
sentiment is addressed in James Kelmans short story collection, If it is your
life (2010). The character in talking about my wife refuses to concede class
politics to the crowd:
They actually believe the Scottish Nationalists are a left-wing party, them and the Lib
Dems. Honest! At the same but if ye want to vote socialist ye vote for the Labour
Party. Unless yere an extremist. In that case ye vote for the Scottish Socialists! Honest,
thats what they think. Ye ever heard such crap! But they actually believe it. (2010: 30)



The character addresses the lack of choice open to his own beliefs and, in
growing despair, emphatically stumbles over the word politics, adding
extra ps (pppolitical) the longer he talks as if to distance himself from
the apoliticised mode that marks the current discourse in Scotland and
elsewhere. While culture may not be able to save the economy, in Kelmans
characters, it remains capable of giving voice to those who are rendered
voiceless and choiceless by the all-encompassing catch-all-ism of the new
post-nationalist dispensation. In Kelmans works, literature opens up a
space to harness a critique and, thereby, to remain as critical of Salmond
as of Cameron or, for that matter, of Enda Kenny and Gerry Adams.
The style of politics that reduces culture to commodity is out of joint
with this aesthetic vision. Indeed, in contrast to the pseudo-communalism of Salmonds nationalism, Camerons Big Society, and Kennys new
Ireland, Kelmans character remains ambiguous. Whereas that communalism depends on writing social responsibility out of everyday relationships,
Kelman places it centre-screen with reference to Bruegels Massacre of
the Innocents. Yet, initially, his character collapses the painting with a
(almost wilfully) mis-remembered mythical village scene that plays into
his escapist dreams of absconding to Ireland. However, the fact that this
vision is, in reality, a phantasmagoric delusion, based on a post-nationalist
displacement of the brutality of socio-economic realities, is exposed as
his wife reminds him of the paintings title, the slaughter of the innocents (as she calls it) (Kelman, 2010: 36). As we have argued, a similar
effacement of economic realities has taken place on both sides of the Irish
Sea, concealed by a rhetoric of optimism and cultural confidence. Yet, as
with the character in Kelmans story, that evasion is ephemeral: despite
the circular logic of the progressive nationalisms that we traced, which
treats imagination as a political imperative, in the imagined nations of
Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland the deferred realities of the social
and economic continue to haunt politics.

The Confidence Game: Rebranding Irish and Scottish Cultures


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Notes on Contributors

LAUREN CLARK graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA

in French and English Literature in 2008. She completed her doctorate
at the University of Sunderland as part of the Leverhulme Trust-funded
Consumer Culture, Advertising and Literature 18481921 project. Her
current research interests include Victorian Irish fiction, advertising, consumer studies and childrens writing and she maintains an interest in French,
Scottish and cultural studies. She guest-edited the second edition of the
Journal of Franco-Irish Studies and is currently co-editing a book of collected essays on Scottish and Irish studies with Colin Younger entitled
Border Crossings: Narration, Nation and Imagination in Scots and Irish
Literature and Culture.
MARTYN COLEBROOK recently completed a PhD focusing on the novels
of Iain Banks in relation to British fiction after 1970. He has wider research
interests in contemporary American literature, transgression and contemporary culture and apocalypse fictions. He has published a number of
chapters on topics such as J.G. Ballard and The Atrocity Exhibition, Paul
Auster, The Music of Chance and Alienation, The Gothic and Mental
Disorder, Don DeLillo and Terrorism, Novelistic Representations of
the Yorkshire Ripper and The Troubles Thriller and Contemporary
Scottish Crime Fiction. He has also organised a number of conferences
focusing on topics such as The Representation of 9/11 in Contemporary
Narratives, Millennial Fictions, Jeanette Winterson and Angela Carter,
and is currently organising a conference focusing on Popular Fiction and
Popular Revolt. He is co-editing a collection of essays focusing on Iain
Banks (forthcoming, 2012), and an edited collection focusing on Jeanette
Winterson, and is a regular book reviewer for Critical Engagements and
Literary London.


Notes on Contributors

STEFANIE LEHNER is Lecturer in Irish Literature at Queens University

Belfast. She was previously Visiting Professor in Irish Studies at the
University of Vienna and Postdoctoral Fellow at the John Hume Institute
for Global Irish Studies at University College Dublin. She has published
in the areas of both Scottish and Irish literary studies, and she is author
ofSubaltern Ethics in Contemporary Scottish and Irish Literature: Tracing
Counter-Histories (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
WILLY MALEY is Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of
Glasgow. He is the author of A Spenser Chronology (1994), Salvaging
Spenser: Colonialism, Culture and Identity (1997), Nation, State and Empire
in English Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare to Milton (2003), and Muriel
Spark for Starters (2008). He is editor, with Andrew Hadfield, of A View
of the Present State of Ireland: From the First Published Edition (1997).
He has also edited eight collections of essays: with Brendan Bradshaw
and Andrew Hadfield, Representing Ireland: Literature and the Origins of
Conflict, 15341660 (1993); with Bart Moore-Gilbert and Gareth Stanton,
Postcolonial Criticism (1997); with David J. Baker, British Identities and
English Renaissance Literature (2002); with Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare
and Scotland (2004); with Alex Benchimol, Spheres ofInfluence: Intellectual
and Cultural Publics from Shakespeare to Habermas (2006); with Philip
Schwyzer, Shakespeare and Wales: From the Marches to the Assembly (2010);
with Michael Gardiner, The Edinburgh Companion to Muriel Spark (2010);
and with Margaret Tudeau-Clayton, This England, That Shakespeare: New
Angles on Englishness and the Bard (2010).
CILLIAN MCGRATTAN is Lecturer in Politics and Cultural Studies at
Swansea University. His books include Northern Ireland, 19682008: The
Politics of Entrenchment (2010); The Northern Ireland Conflict: A Beginners
Guide (2010, co-authored with Aaron Edwards); Everyday Life after the
Conflict: The Impact of Devolution and North-South Cooperation (2012,
co-edited with Elizabeth Meehan); and Memory, Politics and Identity:
Haunted by History (2012).

Notes on Contributors


JAMES MOLLISON completed his undergraduate degree in Philosophy at

Loyola Marymount University. He is now pursuing a Masters in Philosophy
from the same institution.
DEIRDRE OBYRNE lectures in the Department of English and Drama at
Loughborough University, specialising in contemporary Irish fiction. She
is particularly interested in writings in the rural context, and focuses in her
work on issues of gender, identity and class. She is Chair of Nottingham
Irish Studies Group.
NIALL OGALLAGHER is an Honorary Research Associate in Celtic and
Gaelic at the University of Glasgow, where he taught from 2004 to 2007
while writing his doctoral thesis on empire in the work of Alasdair Gray.
He is co-editor, with Michael Gardiner and Graeme Macdonald, of Scottish
Literature and Postcolonial Literature (2010) and, with Peter Mackay, of
Sil air an t-Saoghal (2012), a collection of essays on international contexts
for Scottish Gaelic writing.
ALISON OMALLEY-YOUNGER is Senior Lecturer in English at the
University of Sunderland. With Professor John Strachan (University
of Northumbria), she is co-director of NEICN (The North East Irish
Culture Network). Her primary research interests lie in Irish Literature,
particularly Irish Drama from the nineteenth century to the present day.
She has published in the fields of contemporary critical theory, Irish cultural history, Womens writing in Ireland, Advertising and Commodity
Culture, Blackwoods Magazine and Irish Drama. She has edited and contributed to Representing Ireland: Past, Present and Future (2005), with
Frank Beardow, Essays on Modern Irish Literature (2007) and Ireland at
War and Peace (2011), both with John Strachan, and No Country for Old
Men: Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature (2008), with Paddy Lyons. She
is currently working on a further edited collection, Consumer Culture and
Literature in Ireland from the Famine to Independence with John Strachan,
and completing a monograph entitled The Business of Pleasure: Advertising,
Spectacle and the Irish Culture Industries at the Fin de Sicle.


Notes on Contributors

EMILY A. RAVENSCROFT is a Visiting Assistant Professor ofCommunication

Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She completed
her doctoral degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
in 2010 after spending her final year abroad at the National University of
Ireland, Galway, as an Irish Language Fulbright Scholar. Her dissertation
on Northern Irish Republican political ideology was based on a year of
fieldwork in Belfast on a Graduate School Research Grant provided by the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
MASAYA SHIMOKUSU is a Professor of the Faculty of Letters, Doshisha
University, Kyoto, Japan. He is a member of Ireland-Japan Society Executive
Board and the former secretary of IASIL JAPAN. His main research interests are James Joyce and Bram Stoker. He translates both literary and critical works. His recent co-translation is Ian McDonalds Cyberabad Days.
JOHN STRACHAN is Professor of English Literature at the University of
Northumbria. His books include Advertising and Satirical Culture in the
Romantic Period (2007) and, edited with Alison OMalley-Younger, Ireland
at War and Peace (2011). He is Associate Editor of the Oxford Companion
to English Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


A.E. (see George Russell)

Aberdeen, Lady Ishbel Maria Gordon 94
Act of Emancipation (1829) 49
Adams, Gerry 189, 206, 207, 215, 218
Adorno, Theodor 211
Advertiser, The 98
Advertising 67, 90, 91, 97, 107, 109, 110,
Akutagawa, Ryunosuke 119
All Ireland Review 32
Alspach, Russell K. 31
Anderson, Freddy 134
Krassivy 134
Anglo-Irish 26, 34, 35, 129, 206
Anglo-Scottish Ulster Plantation (1609)
Anglo-Scottish Union of Crowns (1603)
Anthologia Hibernica 42
Anti-Catholic / Anti-Catholicism 26,
42, 44, 45, 47, 65
Anti-Protestant / Anti-Protestantism 47,
Antisyzygy 5, 17
Antrim 133, 181, 182
Aramata, Hiroshi 125
Celt minwasy (A Collection of Celtic
Arata, Stephen 74
Archetype 194, 200

Archipelagic Gothic 62
Arnold, Matthew 15, 29, 32
Arthur Koestler awards 185
Ascherson, Neal 204
Austen, Jane 43
Northanger Abbey 43
Bakhtin, Mikhail 7
Banim, Michael 52
Baudelaire, Charles 90
BBC 125, 189
Belfast (Bal Feirste) 10, 28, 34, 91, 93,
94, 95, 99, 108, 134, 135, 140, 154,
156, 159, 160, 170, 171, 172, 173,
176, 177, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183,
190, 195, 207, 211, 214
Belfast Empire Theatre of Varieties 94
Bell, Eleanor 15, 17, 170
Questioning Scotland 15
Bell, Sam Hanna 34, 153, 154, 155, 156,
158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164,
165, 167
December Bride 34, 153, 154, 155
Bennett, Tony 110
Berlin 106, 107, 147, 217
Berresford Ellis, Peter 20
Beveridge, Craig 15, 17, 18
Big Society 205, 218
Bissett, Alan 22, 85
Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazine 23, 36,
37, 43, 58, 61, 76, 78
The Proposed Exhibition of 1851
Noctes Ambrosianae 75

228 Index
Blake, John 154
Bold, Alan 7
Bowen, Desmond 47
Brantlinger, Patrick 62
Brookmyre, Christopher 175, 176
Brooks, Libby 215
Brown, Wendy 213
Bruce, Robert 19
Bruegel, Pieter 218
Massacre of the Innocents 218
Bulln 10
Burke, Edmund 42
Burke, William 36, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67,
68, 69, 71, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 80,
81, 82, 83, 85
Burns, Robert 2, 3, 10, 21, 110, 138
Butler, Judith 191, 196, 197
Caledonian antisyzygy 1, 6, 16, 17, 29, 30
Caledonian Mercury, The 77, 80
Calvinist / Calvinism 45
Cameron, David 218
Campbell, Colin 133
Campbell, David Davy Robb 134
Cantrell and Cochrane 94
Carleton, William 21, 96, 98, 99, 100
Fair of Emyvale 98
Traits and Stories of the Irish
Peasantry 98
The Master and Scholar 98
Carnivalesque 187, 198
Category A Mickey B 187
Catholic / Catholicism 4, 9, 14, 24, 25,
26, 29, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47,
48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57,
58, 65, 77, 78, 105, 143, 157, 170,
179, 188, 198, 201, 217
Catholic Emancipation 46, 49, 51, 52
Catholic Socialist Society 135

Celtic Communism 20, 133, 137, 139, 141

Celtic Consumerism 28, 89, 92, 93, 94,
95, 96, 97, 101, 103, 105, 107, 108,
110, 111
Celticism 3, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32
Celtic periphery 22, 24, 25, 61, 63, 78
Celtic Renaissance 125
Celtic Tiger 209, 210, 215, 217
Celts, The 125
Chandler, Raymond 174, 175
Cheng, Vincent 62, 63, 66
Christian Examiner and Church of
Ireland Magazine, The 52
Clan Albainn 144
Cleary, Joe 216
Coates, Paul 16, 17
Colonialist / Colonialism 7, 9, 12, 24,
94, 95, 139
Colvin, Sidney 67, 72, 73
Communist / Communism 134, 141
Connery, Sir Sean 205, 206, 214
Connolly, James 18, 19, 100, 101, 102, 103,
104, 105, 109, 112
Labour and Irish History 102
The Reconquest of Ireland 102
Conspicuous consumerism 28, 104
Constable, Archibald 42
Consumer culture 90, 91, 92, 95, 96, 97,
99, 103
Consumerism 28, 90, 92, 99, 100, 104, 111
Contemporary Review, The 32
Cooke, Pat 111
Cooper, Robert 213
Co-operative movement 28
Corcoran, Neil 6
Craig, Cairns 2, 15, 17, 18, 22, 34, 72, 72
Crawford, Robert 10, 14, 18, 21, 22, 206
Devolving Scottish Literature18
Devolving Irish Literature 18

Croker, John Wilson 53
Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851) 91, 101,
Culzean, Micky 68
Cumming, Alan 207
Cumming, Elizabeth 95
Daily Mail, The 203
Dargan, William 102
Deane, Seamus 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 14, 15, 22, 61
Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish
Literature, 188019805
de Friene, Sean 11
De Valera, Eamon 144
Defence of the Realm Act 135
del Riego, Rafael 56
Democratic Unionist Party 12, 14
Disraeli, Benjamin 63
Doak, Naomi 155
Dollan, Agnes 135
Douglas, Hugh 68
Down 103, 154
Doyle, Roddy 15
The Commitments 15
Dramatherapy and social theatre: necessary
dialogues 185
Dublin 9, 19, 28, 41, 42, 47, 49, 68, 90,
91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100,
101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 108, 110,
118, 135, 136, 141, 204, 210, 214
Dublin Industrial Exhibition (1853) 97,
Dublin International Exhibition (1865)
101, 104
Dublin Lock-out 134
Dudley-Edwards, Owen 77, 134
Duncan, Ian 24

Dunn, Douglas 116
The Oxford Book of Scottish Short
Stories 115
Dunsany, Lord Edward John Plunkett
118, 119
East India Company 94
Easter Rising (1916) 137, 140
Economist, The 203
Edgeworth, Maria 2
Edict of Nantes 47
Edinburgh 8, 20, 23, 28, 42, 64, 66, 68,
69, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 83, 84,
89, 91, 93, 94, 95, 98, 99, 101, 103,
105, 134, 136, 138, 139, 140, 144,
208, 214
Edinburgh Arts and Crafts Club 95
Edinburgh Book Festival 208
Edinburgh Evening Courant, The 75
Edinburgh Industrial Exhibition (1886)
89, 98
Edinburgh International Exhibition
Edinburgh Review, The 2, 26, 42, 44,
45, 55
Edinburghs Social Union 95
Educational Shakespeare Company
(ESC) 34, 185, 189, 191, 198, 199,
200, 201
Edward I 20
Edward II 20
Eliot, T.S. 7, 8
Ellmann, Richard 30
Empire Exhibition (1938) 93
Engels, Friedrich 139
Origins of the Family, Private Property
and the State 139
English language 6, 7
Englishness 71, 102
Enlightenment 2, 24, 25, 66, 84, 85

230 Index
Essentialist / Essentialism 5, 15, 16, 17, 18,
29, 61
Europe 3, 14, 15, 25, 43, 46, 49, 50, 56, 80,
90, 97, 106, 107, 177, 204, 210
European Union 204, 210
Evolue 18
Exhibition Expositor, The 98
Fanon, Frantz 17
Feldman, Allen 177
Feminist / Feminism 12, 13, 14, 100, 153
Fenian / Fenianism 67, 70, 71, 76
Ferdinand VII 56
Fielden, Olga 155
Fin de Sicle 29, 62, 64, 71, 95, 106, 107
Fine Gael 204
Forward 135, 140
Foster, Gavin 135
Foster, Roy 25
Foucault, Michel 191, 192, 193, 194, 195
Discipline and Punish 192, 193
France 22, 43, 47, 205
Franco-British Exhibition (1908) 106
Free, Marcus 165
Freudian / Post-Freudian 158, 161, 209
Gaelic League, the 27
Gaelic Revival 91
Gallacher, Willie 134
Gaze, the 159, 174, 195
Geddes, Patrick 28, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 95,
98, 111, 120, 140
Gender 5, 11, 12, 13, 153, 173, 188, 190, 196,
197, 200, 201, 205, 209
Genet, Jacqueline 27
Gentle Highlander 13
Gentlemans Magazine, The 42
Geppert, A. 106, 107

Gibbons, Luke 16, 25, 62, 63, 78, 96, 97

Transformations in Irish Culture 96
Gifford, Douglas 208
The Edinburgh History of Scottish
Literature 208
Gill, M.H. 102
Gladstone, William 92
Glasgow (Gles Chu) 9, 28, 34, 89, 91, 93,
94, 95, 99, 101, 103, 105, 106, 108,
109, 110, 134, 135, 136, 138, 141,
142, 154, 170, 171, 172, 175, 176,
177, 181, 182, 183, 190
Glasgow Boys, the 95, 110
Glasgow Herald, The 136
Glasgow Rent Strike (1915) 134
Glasgow School of Art 95
Godwin, William 53
Caleb Williams 53
Goldring, Maurice 170
Good Friday Agreement (1998) 182, 207
Gosse, Edward 73
Gothic / Gothicism 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 42,
43, 44, 45, 47, 55, 56, 61, 62, 63,
64, 65, 67, 68, 72, 73, 76, 78, 83,
85, 95, 177
Gothic causality 175
Gothic novel, the 42, 43, 44, 45, 56
Gough, Julian 217
Graham, Colin 207, 210, 212
Grahame, Cunninghame 141
Gramsci, Antonio 19, 134, 213
Grand Central Dome 108
Gray, Alasdair 9, 207
Lanark 9
Great Britain 2, 46, 50, 93, 101, 107, 134,
139, 141
Great Exhibition 28, 102
Gregory, Lady Augusta 31, 32, 118, 119
Hyacinth Harvey 118
The Full Moon 119

Grieve, Christopher Murray 140
Griffin, Patrick 165
The People with No Name165
Guardian, The 208
HMP Maghaberry 34, 185, 189, 195
Haiku 116, 123
Hare, Maggie, ne Laird (Lucky Logue)
68, 69
Hare, William 26, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67,
68, 69, 71, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 82,
83, 85
Harnett, A.W. 98
Harris, Jason Marc 123
Harris, John B. 48
Charles Robert Maturin 48
Hart, Francis Russell 17
Hart, Matthew 7, 19
Harvey, Arthur 189
Harvie, Chris 137, 140
Hassan, Gerry 203
Hayes-McCoy, G.A. 70
Heaney, Mike 210, 211
Heaney, Seamus 116
Midnight Anvil 116
District and Circle 116
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 10
Heteroglossia / Heteroglossic 7, 21
Heteronormative / Heteronormativity
188, 191, 200
Heterosexuality 197, 200
Hewitt, John 140
The Bloody Brae 140
Highland Home Industries 106
Hogg, James 16, 17, 26, 45
The Private Memoirs and Confessions
of a Justified Sinner 16, 45
Home Industries 28, 106
Home Rule 69, 92

Howell, David 134
A Lost Left: Three Studies in Socialism
and Nationalism 134
Hughes, Eamonn 170, 179
Hunter, James 135
Hyde, Douglas 33, 120
Hyslop, Fiona 215, 216
Illustrated London Magazine, The 90, 97,
98, 99, 100
Illustrated London News, The 97
Imperialist / Imperialism 3, 5, 19, 51, 94,
97, 135, 169
Independent Labour Party 134, 141
Internationalism 5, 6, 20
IRA (Irish Republican Army) 137
IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) 77,
Irish Free State 144
Irish language 137
Irish Literary Revival 5, 118, 120, 126
Irish Literary Theatre 31
Irishness 26, 61, 64, 76, 77, 80, 205,
Irish peasantry 99, 100, 139
Irish Times, The 210, 216, 217
Isle of Mull 145
Jacobite / Jacobitism 25, 144
Jackson, Ellen-Rassa 14
James I 9
Jamieson, John 8
Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish
Language 8
Japan Caledonia Society 115
Japanese Pavilion 108
Jeffrey, Francis 44, 45, 46, 53, 55, 57,
John Bull 73, 74, 77

232 Index
Joyce, James 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 21, 35,
98, 99, 143
Gas from a Burner 4
Ulysses 8, 9
Kailyard 13, 27, 71
Kane, Pat 208
Katayama, (Nee Yoshida) Hiroko 33, 115,
116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 126
Azarashi 121, 122, 123, 124
Celtic Fantastic Stories 125
The Moon-Child 122, 123
The Sabbath of the Fishes 122
Three Marvels of Hy 122
Celt gens sakuhinsh125
Kanashiki jy- (The sad queen)115,
121, 123, 124, 125
Kawasemi (A Kingdisher) 116, 117
No ni sumite (Living in the
Kearney, Richard 18, 209, 210
Keir Hardie, James 141
Kelly, Aaron 176, 212
Kelly, Stuart 16
Kelman, James 138, 217, 218
If it is your Life 217
Kelvingrove Art Gallery 108, 110
Kennedy-Andrews, Elmer 206
Kennedy, Liam 14
Kenny, Edna 204, 205, 215, 218
Kerrigan, John 144
Kiberd, Declan 11
Kidd, Colin 10
Kilfeather, Siobhan 23
Kilgour, Maggie 62
Kilmainham Gaol 19
Kikuchi, Kan 118, 119
Chichi kaeru (The father returns) 119
Kimura, Takeshi 120, 121

Kinchin, J. 110
Kinchin, P. 110
Knox, Robert 23, 24, 61, 77
Kokoro no hana121
Kno, Kenji 119
Kristeva, Julia 158
Labour Party 203, 217
Laing, R.D. 1
Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan 47
Leader, The 95
Lebor Gabla renn 55
Lewis, Matthew 43, 44
Liberal Democrats 208
Linehan, Katherine 67
Lloyd, David 72, 137, 139
Lloyd George, David 136
Lochhead, Liz 207
Lockerbie, Catherine 208
Lombroso, Casare 74
London 67, 94, 97, 101, 106, 107, 136
Longley, Edna 14
Lonsdale, Henry 77
Loyalist / Loyalism 154, 189, 190, 198
Lyall, Scott 141, 143
Lyons, Pater 172, 173, 178, 179, 182
MacAskill, Kenny 212, 213
MacBrane, David 108
MacColl, W.D. 146
MacDiarmid, Hugh 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 17, 20,
21, 133, 134, 137, 140, 141, 142, 143,
144, 146, 148
A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
4, 141
In Memoriam James Joyce 4
John Maclean 140, 142, 143, 144
Krassivy, Krassivy 134

On a Raised Beach 142
The Bonnie Broukit Bairn 134
A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle5,
Stony Limits and Other Poems 142,
MacDonald, Alastair/ Alexander 133, 146
MacDonald, John 133
MacDonnell, Sorley Boy (MacDhomh
naill, Somhairle Buidhe) 133
MacKenzie, Compton 144
Mackenzie, J.M. 93, 94, 95
The Second City of the
Empire: Glasgow Imperial
Mackintosh, Charles Rennie 110
Maclean, John 19, 20, 133, 134, 135, 138,
140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146,
147, 148
The Army in Ireland 136
The Irish Tragedy: Scotlands Disgrace 19, 136
Maclean, Neil 135
Maclean, Sorley (Somhairle MacGillEain) 20, 133, 137, 144, 145, 146,
147, 148
An Cuilithionn (The Cuillin) 146,
Din do Eimhir agus Din Eile 146
Do n bhreitheamh a thubhairt ri
Iain Mac Ghill-Eathain gum b e
gealtair a bh ann (To the judge
who told John Maclean he was a
Other Poems 146
O Choille gu Bearradh / From Wood
to Ridge146
Macleod, Fiona (see William Sharp)
MacNeice, Louis 143, 144
Macpherson, James 2, 30, 31, 33, 34

Magennis, Caroline 154
Magill, Tom 185, 186, 188, 199
Maitland, Walter 182
Major, John 203
Mal de Sicle 62
Maley, Willy 65
Manning, Susan 34
Marcus Ward and Co. 93
Markievicz, Countess Constance 135
Marks, Thomas 171, 172
Marquis-Muradaz, Jennifer 185, 188, 199
Marxist / Marxism 19, 135, 213
Massie, Alex 209
Matsumura, Mineko (see Hiroko
Maturin, Charles Robert 22, 23, 35, 36,
37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 41, 43, 44, 45,
46, 47
Five Sermons of the Errors of the
Roman Catholic Church 41, 42,
46, 47, 48, 49, 54, 56, 58
Melmoth the Wander 25, 41, 42, 44,
49, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58
The Albigenses 42, 48
The Milesian Chief: A Romance 55
Maze, the (HM Prison) 188
McArthur, Colin 14
McCluskey, Seamus 99
McCormack, William (Bill) 9
Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing
McDonald, Helen 64
McDougal, Nelly 68, 69
McGrath, John 134
Little Red Hen 134
McGuinness, Caitlin 171, 175, 182
McGuinness, Martin 189
McIlvanney, Liam 34, 169, 170, 171, 172,
173, 174, 175, 176, 182, 183
All the Colours of the Town 34, 169,
170, 171

234 Index
McIlvanney, William 171, 177
Laidlaw 177
McIntosh, Gillian 154, 161
McMahon, Sean 161
McNamee, Eoin 173
Resurrection Man 173
McNeil, Kenneth 66
Meiji Restoration 118
Mickey B 28, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150
Middleton, Tim 7
Mighall, Robert 74
Milesian 55, 74, 80, 81
Miller, Gavin 15
Minne, J. 170
Mitabungaku 121
Modernist / Modernism 5, 6, 7, 8, 21, 99,
107, 137
Molly Maguires 76
Monoglossia / Monoglossic 6, 7
Moore, Thomas 46
Moran, D.P. 95
Morgan, Edwin 4, 207, 208
Morley, Charles 74
Morris, Catherine 139
Muir, Edwin 21
Muldoon, Paul 61
Mullan, Peter 138
Murdoch, John 141
Nairn, Tom 15, 169
Three Dreams of Scottish
Nakagi, Teiichi 118
Nation, The 23
Nationalist / Nationalism 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12,
13, 14, 19, 20, 27, 28, 89, 92, 95, 135,
137, 138, 140, 141, 144, 148, 154,
203, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 212,
213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218
New DNB 133

New Left Review, The169

New Monthly Magazine, The 45
Newsinger, J. 170
Noguchi, Yone 116
Nolan, Emer 27
Northern Ireland 34, 35, 170, 175, 180,
181, 182, 183, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189,
190, 191, 192, 196, 198, 201, 210,
211, 214, 218
Cadhain, Mirtn 137
OBrien, Connor Cruise 63
OConnor, Edmund 170
ODonovan Rossa, Jeremiah 70
OGrady, Standish 32
ORourke, Donny 3
OShannon, Cathal 134
OSullivan, Thaddeus 34, 167
December Bride 165, 167
OToole, Fintan 14, 217
Obama, Barack 204
Old Glasgow Exhibition (1894) 110
Ordinary Decent Criminals (ODCs)
186, 187, 188, 189, 197
Ossian 2, 25, 30, 34
Outlook Tower 89
Paisley 30, 101, 103, 134
Pall Mall Gazette, The 67, 73, 74
Pan-Celtic / Pan-Celticism 11, 27, 31
Paramilitary / Paramilitaries 179, 186,
187, 188, 189, 191, 192, 196, 187
Paris 6, 107
Park, David 171
Swallowing the Sun 171
Parker, Stewart 10
Lost Belongings10
Parkinson, Henry 104, 105
Illustrated Record of the Dublin
International Exhibition 104


Parnell, Charles Stewart 143
Patriotic / Patriotism 27, 106
Patten, Eve 209
Patterson, Glen 172, 173
Lapsed Protestant 172
Pelaschiar, Laura 211, 213
Peoples Palace, Glasgow 95
Performative / Performativity 191, 196
Peterson, Dale 67
Phrenology / Phrenological 78, 80, 81, 82
Physiognomy 78, 81, 82
Pitt Dundas, William 65
Irish Immigrants and Their Effect on
the Native Scots 65
The Races of Men in Scotland65
Plain, Gill 177
Poe, Edgar Allen 44
Polidori, John 45
The Vampyre 45
Political Prisoners 187, 197
Postcolonial / Postcolonialism 14, 15, 22,
24, 95, 148, 206
Postfeminist / Postfeminism 209
Postmodernist / Postmodernism 12, 205,
206, 209, 210, 211, 213, 216
Postnationalist /Postnationalism 206,
209, 211, 212, 213, 214, 218
Pound, Ezra 7
Presbyterian / Presbyterianism 46, 153,
154, 157, 165, 181
Protestant / Protestantism 24, 25, 29, 42,
46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 53, 78, 134, 155,
170, 188, 190, 198, 201
Provincialism 6, 21
Punch; Or The London Charivari 67, 71
The Maniac Man-Monkey. A New
Sensational Christmas Story by
B. Bones 67
Quarterly Review, The 53

Queen Victoria 92
Radcliffe, Anne 43, 44, 53, 55
Rains, Stephanie 91, 98
Commodity Culture and Social Class
in Dublin 18501916 91
Rankin, Ian 171, 172
Red Clydeside 20, 134, 136, 139, 147
Rees, Catherine 19
Reformation, the 50
Regan, Stephen 61
Reid, Julia 72, 84
Reizbaum, Marilyn 10, 12, 13, 14, 18
Renan, Ernest 32
Renfield, James W. 79
Renton, Mark 3
Republic of Ireland, the 19, 204, 206,
210, 214
Republican / Republicanism 19, 71, 134,
141, 144, 179, 186, 187, 189, 190,
198, 204, 206
Revisionist / Revisionism 100
Riach, Alan 140
Richtarik, Marilynn 10
Rodford, Steve 189
Roger Graef award 185
Rosner, Lisa 68
Russell, George 32, 33
Sage, Victor 24
Salmond, Alex 204, 215, 218
Saris, Jamie A. 97
Sasaki, Yukitsuna 116
Saturday Review, The 90
Scoto-Celtic movement 33, 120
Scots Makar 208
Scott, Sir Walter 2, 3, 110
The Waverley Novels 2
Scottish devolution 203
Scottish Exhibition (1911) 89, 106, 110

236 Index
Scottishness 11, 17, 30, 61, 203, 205, 206,
Scottish Renaissance 140, 144
Scottish Review, The 16
Second Cities of Empire 28, 89, 92, 93,
94, 95, 102, 110
Sermons of the Rev. Richard Hayes 49
Shakespeare, William 34, 35, 185, 190,
191, 195, 197
Macbeth 34, 185, 191, 196, 198
Sharp, Elizabeth A.120, 121
Collected Works of William Sharp
Sharp, William 30, 31, 33, 115, 120, 121, 123
The House of Usna 120
The Laughter of Scathach the
The Sad Queen 121
The House of Usna31
The Immortal Hour 31
The Sin-Eater 120, 121, 125
The Washer of the Ford 120, 121
Shaw, George Bernard 10, 118
Shaw, Glenn W. 119
Sheffield 101
Shelley, Mary 45
Frankenstein; or the Modern
Prometheus 45
Shetland Islands 141
Simmel, Georg 90
Simmon, James 153
Sinn Fein 27, 136, 144, 206, 214
Skenazy, Paul 175
Smith, George Gregory 17, 29
Smith, Sydney 45
SNP (Scottish National Party) 141, 203,
204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 212, 214,

Socialist / Socialism 5, 19, 20, 94, 134,

135, 137, 138, 139, 141, 144, 148, 217
Spain 41, 43, 44, 54, 55, 56
Spanish Inquisition 42, 44, 55, 56
Spectator, The 203
Sproule, John 102, 105
Stage Irishman 13
St Andrews Agreement (2006) 18
Star Theatre of Varieties 94
Stevenson, Robert Louis 10, 26, 61, 62,
67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75,
76, 83, 84, 85
The Body Snatcher 62, 67, 72, 73,
74, 75, 83
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr
Hyde 1, 62, 73
Confessions of a Unionist 69
The Dynamiter 70
Weir of Hermiston 71
Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes 75
Stone, Michael 189
Sunday Post, The 169
Suzuki, Beatrice Lane 116
Suzuki, Daisetsu 116
Synge, John Millington 21, 118, 119
The Playboy of the Western World 119
Synthetic Scots 7, 21
Tanka 115, 116, 117, 121, 123, 126
Tartan Noir 169, 171
Taylor, Isaac 78
Telegraph, The 171
Thatcher, Margaret 187, 197
Times, The 103
Toibin, Colm 209
The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction 209

Tolstoy, Leo 161
Anna Karenina 161
Tomahawk, The71
Tory / Tories 53, 73, 203, 205, 206
Tourist / Tourism 106, 180, 210
Translation 33, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121,
122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 146
Tribune on Sunday, The 178
Trollope, Anthony 47
Troubles, the 13, 171, 173, 175, 176, 178,
180, 182, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190,
191, 201
Tsuruoka, Mayumi 117
Turnbull, Ronald 15, 17, 18
Ulster 9, 10, 120, 123, 133, 153, 154, 155,
165, 167, 173, 179, 181
Ulster Plantation (1609) 3, 18, 133
Ulster-Scots 154, 155, 165, 167
Ulster Scots Socialists 134
Union Canal 66
Unionist / Unionism 69, 78, 154, 203,
UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) 171, 172,
178, 182
Vebelen, Thorsten 104
Theory of the Leisure Class 104
Vettriano, Jack 207
Voice of Labour, The 135
Voice of Scotland, The 140
Walker, William 134
Wallace, William 19

Walpole, Horace 43, 44, 55
The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story
Walsh, Patrick 165
Ward, Thomas 49
Errata of the Protestant Bible 49
Waters, John 216
Welsh, Irvine 3, 15, 137
Rents (Mark Renton) 15
If You Liked School, Youll Love Work
West Britonism 28
Wheatley, John 134, 135
Whyte, Christopher 145, 208
Wicklow 55, 103
Wilde, Oscar 10
Williams, Raymond 96
Woolf, Virginia 107
Workers Republic, The 136
Wray, Ramona 186
Yamamoto, Shji 119
Eikoku-Airuranndo kindaigeki seizui
(Essences of British and Irish
modern dramas)119
Yeats, William Butler 3, 10, 21, 27, 29, 30,
31, 35, 118, 119, 125, 143
At the Hawks Well 119
Cathleen ni Houilhan 119
On Bailes Strand 10
Young, Douglas 145
Young, James D. 135, 136

Reimagining Ireland
Series Editor: Dr Eamon Maher, Institute of Technology, Tallaght

The concepts of Ireland and Irishness are in constant flux in the wake
of an ever-increasing reappraisal of the notion of cultural and national
specificity in a world assailed from all angles by the forces of globalisation and uniformity. Reimagining Ireland interrogates Irelands
past and present and suggests possibilities for the future by looking
at Irelands literature, culture and history and subjecting them to the
most up-to-date critical appraisals associated with sociology, literary
theory, historiography, political science and theology.
Some of the pertinent issues include, but are not confined to,
Irish writing in English and Irish, Nationalism, Unionism, the Northern
Troubles, the Peace Process, economic development in Ireland,
the impact and decline of the Celtic Tiger, Irish spirituality, the rise
and fall of organised religion, the visual arts, popular cultures, sport,
Irish music and dance, emigration and the Irish diaspora, immigration
and multiculturalism, marginalisation, globalisation, modernity/postmodernity and postcolonialism. The series publishes monographs,
comparative studies, interdisciplinary projects, conference proceedings and edited books.
Proposals should be sent either to Dr Eamon Maher at eamon.maher@
ittdublin.ie or to ireland@peterlang.com.
Vol. 1

Vol. 2

Vol. 3

Eugene OBrien: Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse:

Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies
ISBN 978-3-03911-539-6. 219 pages. 2009.
James P. Byrne, Padraig Kirwan and Michael OSullivan (eds):
Affecting Irishness: Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and
Beyond the Nation
ISBN 978-3-03911-830-4. 334 pages. 2009.
Irene Lucchitti: The Islandman: The Hidden Life of Toms
ISBN 978-3-03911-837-3. 232 pages. 2009.

Vol. 4

Paddy Lyons and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds): No Country

for Old Men: Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature
ISBN 978-3-03911-841-0. 289 pages. 2009.

Vol. 5

Eamon Maher (ed.): Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation

and Ireland
ISBN 978-3-03911-851-9. 256 pages. 2009.

Vol. 6

Lynn Brunet: A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials:

Bacon, Beckett and Spurious Freemasonry in Early TwentiethCentury Ireland
ISBN 978-3-03911-854-0. 218 pages. 2009.

Vol. 7

Claire Lynch: Irish Autobiography: Stories of Self in the

Narrative of a Nation
ISBN 978-3-03911-856-4. 234 pages. 2009.

Vol. 8

Victoria OBrien: A History of Irish Ballet from 1927 to 1963

ISBN 978-3-03911-873-1. 208 pages. 2011.

Vol. 9

Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Elin Holmsten (eds): Liminal

Borderlands in Irish Literature and Culture
ISBN 978-3-03911-859-5. 208 pages. 2009.

Vol. 10 Claire Nally: Envisioning Ireland: W.B. Yeatss Occult

ISBN 978-3-03911-882-3. 320 pages. 2010.
Vol. 11 Raita Merivirta: The Gun and Irish Politics: Examining National
History in Neil Jordans Michael Collins
ISBN 978-3-03911-888-5. 202 pages. 2009.
Vol. 12 John Strachan and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds):
Ireland: Revolution and Evolution
ISBN 978-3-03911-881-6. 248 pages. 2010.
Vol. 13 Barbara Hughes: Between Literature and History: The Diaries
and Memoirs of Mary Leadbeater and Dorothea Herbert
ISBN 978-3-03911-889-2. 255 pages. 2010.
Vol. 14 Edwina Keown and Carol Taaffe (eds): Irish Modernism:
Origins, Contexts, Publics
ISBN 978-3-03911-894-6. 256 pages. 2010.

Vol. 15 John Walsh: Contests and Contexts: The Irish Language and
Irelands Socio-Economic Development
ISBN 978-3-03911-914-1. 492 pages. 2011.
Vol. 16 Zlie Asava: The Black Irish Onscreen: Representing Black
and Mixed-Race Identities in Irish Film and TV
ISBN 978-3-0343-0839-7. Forthcoming.
Vol. 17 Susan Cahill and Ein Flannery (eds): This Side of Brightness:
Essays on the Fiction of Colum McCann
ISBN 978-3-03911-935-6. 189 pages. 2012.
Vol. 18 Brian Arkins: The Thought of W.B. Yeats
ISBN 978-3-03911-939-4. 204 pages. 2010.
Vol. 19 Maureen OConnor: The Female and the Species: The Animal
in Irish Womens Writing
ISBN 978-3-03911-959-2. 203 pages. 2010.
Vol. 20 Rhona Trench: Bloody Living: The Loss of Selfhood in the
Plays of Marina Carr
ISBN 978-3-03911-964-6. 327 pages. 2010.
Vol. 21 Jeannine Woods: Visions of Empire and Other Imaginings:
Cinema, Ireland and India, 19101962
ISBN 978-3-03911-974-5. 230 pages. 2011.
Vol. 22 Neil OBoyle: New Vocabularies, Old Ideas: Culture, Irishness
and the Advertising Industry
ISBN 978-3-03911-978-3. 233 pages. 2011.
Vol. 23 Dermot McCarthy: John McGahern and the Art of Memory
ISBN 978-3-0343-0100-8. 344 pages. 2010.
Vol. 24 Francesca Benatti, Sean Ryder and Justin Tonra (eds):
Thomas Moore: Texts, Contexts, Hypertexts
ISBN 978-3-0343-0900-4. Forthcoming.
Vol. 25 Sarah OConnor: No Mans Land: Irish Women and the
Cultural Present
ISBN 978-3-0343-0111-4. 230 pages. 2011.

Vol. 26 Caroline Magennis: Sons of Ulster: Masculinities in the

Contemporary Northern Irish Novel
ISBN 978-3-0343-0110-7. 192 pages. 2010.
Vol. 27 Dawn Duncan: Irish Myth, Lore and Legend on Film
ISBN 978-3-0343-0140-4. 181 pages. 2013.
Vol. 28 Eamon Maher and Catherine Maignant (eds): Franco-Irish
Connections in Space and Time: Peregrinations and
ISBN 978-3-0343-0870-0. 295 pages. 2012.
Vol. 29 Holly Maples: Culture War: Conflict, Commemoration and the
Contemporary Abbey Theatre
ISBN 978-3-0343-0137-4. 294 pages. 2011.
Vol. 30 Maureen OConnor (ed.): Back to the Future of Irish Studies:
Festschrift for Tadhg Foley
ISBN 978-3-0343-0141-1. 359 pages. 2010.
Vol. 31 Eva Urban: Community Politics and the Peace Process in
Contemporary Northern Irish Drama
ISBN 978-3-0343-0143-5. 303 pages. 2011.
Vol. 32 Mairad Conneely: Between Two Shores / Idir Dh Chladach:
Writing the Aran Islands, 18901980
ISBN 978-3-0343-0144-2. 299 pages. 2011.
Vol. 33 Gerald Morgan and Gavin Hughes (eds): Southern Ireland and
the Liberation of France: New Perspectives
ISBN 978-3-0343-0190-9. 250 pages. 2011.
Vol. 34 Anne MacCarthy: Definitions of Irishness in the Library of
Ireland Literary Anthologies
ISBN 978-3-0343-0194-7. 271 pages. 2012.
Vol. 35 Irene Lucchitti: Peig Sayers: In Her Own Write
ISBN 978-3-0343-0253-1. Forthcoming.
Vol. 36 Eamon Maher and Eugene OBrien (eds): Breaking the Mould:
Literary Representations of Irish Catholicism
ISBN 978-3-0343-0232-6. 249 pages. 2011.

Vol. 37 Mchel hAodha and John OCallaghan (eds): Narratives of

the Occluded Irish Diaspora: Subversive Voices
ISBN 978-3-0343-0248-7. 227 pages. 2012.
Vol. 38 Willy Maley and Alison OMalley-Younger (eds): Celtic
Connections: IrishScottish Relations and the Politics of Culture
ISBN 978-3-0343-0214-2. 247 pages. 2013.
Vol. 39 Sabine Egger and John McDonagh (eds): PolishIrish
Encounters in the Old and New Europe
ISBN 978-3-0343-0253-1. 322 pages. 2011.
Vol. 40 Elke Dhoker, Raphal Ingelbien and Hedwig Schwall (eds):
Irish Women Writers: New Critical Perspectives
ISBN 978-3-0343-0249-4. 318 pages. 2011.
Vol. 41 Peter James Harris: From Stage to Page: Critical Reception of
Irish Plays in the London Theatre, 19251996
ISBN 978-3-0343-0266-1. 311 pages. 2011.
Vol. 42 Hedda Friberg-Harnesk, Gerald Porter and Joakim Wrethed (eds):
Beyond Ireland: Encounters Across Cultures
ISBN 978-3-0343-0270-8. 342 pages. 2011.
Vol. 43 Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Carmen Zamorano Llena (eds):
Urban and Rural Landscapes in Modern Ireland: Language,
Literature and Culture
ISBN 978-3-0343-0279-1. 238 pages. 2012.
Vol. 44 Kathleen Costello-Sullivan: Mother/Country: Politics of the
Personal in the Fiction of Colm Tibn
ISBN 978-3-0343-0753-6. 247 pages. 2012.
Vol. 45 Lesley Lelourec and Grinne OKeeffe-Vigneron (eds): Ireland
and Victims: Confronting the Past, Forging the Future
ISBN 978-3-0343-0792-5. 331 pages. 2012.
Vol. 46 Gerald Dawe, Darryl Jones and Nora Pelizzari (eds): Beautiful
Strangers: Ireland and the World of the 1950s.
ISBN 978-3-0343-0801-4. Forthcoming. 2013.