Today the world is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!
In light of this day of appreciation for the Emerald Isle, we wanted to present some of the ways in which Irish Studies scholars are attempting to reappraise the concept of Ireland and Irishness, sometimes employing a French lens, which is an important task in a world assailed by globalisation and a type of enforced uniformity, which the French have resisted better than most.
The space of Irish Studies is greatly expanding and new viewpoints and studies are continuously being portrayed touching on Ireland’s cultural, social and political development at this difficult point in time Exploring the concept of patrimoine, a French word used to denote cultural heritage, traditional customs and practices, we can seethe extent to which this concept impacts on France and Ireland. In terms of France, we might look at fashion, wines, gastronomy, literature, philosophy, regional specificities, architecture and café culture, while in Ireland the emphasis might be on the pubs, the writers (traditionally quite often to be found in said pubs!), the fighting spirit, the greenness, the historic struggle with our near neighbours, the beef, the Guinness. There are strong connections between the two countries and this is manifested in the way in which they underline and commodify their respective heritages. Both countries have a rich and diverse cultural legacy that remains essential and unique, and patrimoine forms part of culture, and is a means of mediating that culture.
While exploring Franco-Irish relations allows insight into one aspect of culture, scholars are re-examining Irish Famine scholarship, adopting a broader interdisciplinary approach that includes ground-breaking demographical, economic, cultural and literary research on poverty, poor relief and class relations during this devastating food crisis. Incorporating a comparative European framework, as well as exploring the issue of class in relation to the British and North American Famine diaspora, Marguerite Corporaal and Peter Gray have established a significant new stage for the study of Irish history.