Irish Writers and Religion
IASAIL-JAPAN series Volume 4
In Memory of Barbara Hayley
This volume analyses the interplay between religion and society in Ireland and how Irish writing, whether poetry, prose, drama, sermon or pamphlet, has reflected that interplay, and how the idea of wholeness and integration, as part of the religious search, informs Irish writing.
Irish literature has been influenced by religion from the beginning. Writing itself came about as a result of the conversion to Christianity, because the early church brought with it a Latin orthography which the native men of learning adopted. Pagan beliefs and practices were assimilated into Christianity, but not entirely so: a theme that surfaces continually in Irish writing is the conflict between Pagan and Christian values. This tension is also an interaction: one of the characteristics of Irish literature of all periods is its capacity to retain pagan stories and modes of thought. This retention reflects a society which, while Christianised, has many roots in a pre-Christian Celtic past.
The essays follow a broadly chronological pattern covering every facet of the subject, starting with Paganism in early Ireland, and moving on to the literary uses of folk belief and religion in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
'Paganism and Society in Early Ireland'. Séamus MacMathúna
'Literature and Religion in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: A Critical Survey'. Joseph McMinn
'Religion and Society in Nineteenth-Century Fiction'. Barbara Hayley
'The Word, the Lore, and the Spirit: Folk Religion and the Supernatural in Modern Irish Literature'. Dáithi Ó hÓgáin
'Ghosts in Anglo-Irish Literature'. Peter Denman
'Shaw and Creative Evolution'. A. M. Gibbs
'Catholicism in the Culture of the New Ireland: Canon Sheehan and Daniel Corkery'. Ruth Fleischmann
'Yeats and Religion'. Mitsuko Ohno
'Joyce and Catholicism'. Eamonn Hughes
'Francis Stuart and Religion: Sharing the Leper's Lair'. Anne McCartney
'Received Religion and Secular Vision: MacNeice and Kavanagh'. Alan Peacock
'"A mythology with which I am perfectly familiar": Samuel Beckett and the Absence of God'. Lance St John Butler
'Pilgrim's Progress: on the Poetry of Desmond Egan and Others'. Patrick Rafroidi
'Religion?'. Desmond Egan
'Mis and Dubh Ruis: A Parable of Psychic Transformation'. Nuala ni Dhomhnaill
Notes on Contributors