Literature, drama and the visual arts

In relation to literature, drama and the visual arts, there has been much for Ireland to celebrate in recent years. Throughout the early years of the twenty-first century Irish writers continued to contribute much to literature in English and adapted successfully to the challenge of writing about an Ireland that was increasingly modernised and internationalised. There was still much preoccupation with traditional themes of family, history and class but also a sense of an Ireland that was in a state of transition and adaptability; an Ireland in pursuit of profitability and the self rather than focusing on the aesthetic and the collective. One critic, Joseph Cleary, suggested that a society embracing positively its modernity also relied heavily “on invocations of the darkness of the past to validate its sense of its own enlightenment” and thus historical themes remained important despite the focus on the breaking down of definitions and boundaries in relation to Irishness. Fiction writers, including Colm Toibín, Dermot Bolger, Anne Enright, John Banville and Sebastian Barry, dealt with memory and the dislocations of a new modern existence. Seamus Heaney, the Nobel laureate poet who died in 2013 and considered by many as Ireland’s greatest poet since W.B.Yeats, generated enormous pride. By continually reinventing his language and exploring and wandering poetically, he was widely recognised as excelling at his craft. Scholars from all parts of the world have spent decades trying to assess Heaney’s impact, method and legacy and the quality and evenness of his output. Their studies range from his use of images and symbols to his visions of education, religion, societal conflict, regionalism, international dialogues, memory and love.


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