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Expressing the Nineteenth Century in Irish: The Poetry of Aodh Mac Domhnaill (1802–67)

Expressing the Nineteenth Century in Irish: The Poetry of Aodh Mac Domhnaill (1802–67) Fionntán de Brún When reflecting on the seemingly relentless decline of the Irish language in the nineteenth century, the Donegal Gaeltacht writer Séamus Ó Grianna, was wont to recall John Mitchel's indictment of that century itself: "the `nineteenth century' would not know itself, could not express itself in Irish."1 For Mitchel, and for generations of his nationalist devotees like Ó Grianna, the Irish language found itself not just out of favor but outside of time itself. Of course, Mitchel regarded "the nineteenth century" as less a specific period of time than as an insidious amalgam of evils--chief among which were industrialization, rampant pauperization, and the rise of the British trade empire and the accompanying Victorian socioeconomic value system. For Mitchel, this was truly "the darkest of all dark ages" in which language--rather like the Irish monks in the dark ages-- existed without and in spite of the nineteenth century. As such, the language was a reminder the Irish of an age of pristine virtue, the mark of which was that "there is no name for modern enlightenment in Irish, no word corresponding with the `masses' or with `reproductive labour'; in short, the `nineteenth century' would not know itself, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png New Hibernia Review Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas

Expressing the Nineteenth Century in Irish: The Poetry of Aodh Mac Domhnaill (1802–67)

New Hibernia Review , Volume 15 (1) – Apr 1, 2011

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Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Copyright
Copyright © Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
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1534-5815
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Abstract

Fionntán de Brún When reflecting on the seemingly relentless decline of the Irish language in the nineteenth century, the Donegal Gaeltacht writer Séamus Ó Grianna, was wont to recall John Mitchel's indictment of that century itself: "the `nineteenth century' would not know itself, could not express itself in Irish."1 For Mitchel, and for generations of his nationalist devotees like Ó Grianna, the Irish language found itself not just out of favor but outside of time itself. Of course, Mitchel regarded "the nineteenth century" as less a specific period of time than as an insidious amalgam of evils--chief among which were industrialization, rampant pauperization, and the rise of the British trade empire and the accompanying Victorian socioeconomic value system. For Mitchel, this was truly "the darkest of all dark ages" in which language--rather like the Irish monks in the dark ages-- existed without and in spite of the nineteenth century. As such, the language was a reminder the Irish of an age of pristine virtue, the mark of which was that "there is no name for modern enlightenment in Irish, no word corresponding with the `masses' or with `reproductive labour'; in short, the `nineteenth century' would not know itself,

Journal

New Hibernia ReviewCenter for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas

Published: Apr 1, 2011

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