The Irish Book in Irish in the early modern period, 1691-1800

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Abstract

Despite a whole series of political, socio-economic and cultural impediments, a small but significant corpus of religious/devotional, antiquarian, grammatical and lexicographical texts, wholly or partly written in Irish, supplemented the Church of Ireland's and the Roman Catholic church's contribution to the printed book in Irish between the end of the Jacobite/Williamite War (1691) and the Act of Union (1800). These works invariably related to religion or grammar and were either funded by the various communions or by the proliferation of antiquarian, learned and religious societies which emerged in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Furthermore, these last decades of the eighteenth century also witnessed the emergence of a printed literature in Irish, almost exclusively derived from the Irish manuscript tradition. The story of the Irish Book (in Irish) is a story of continuity, consolidation, development and diversification. Macpherson's Ossian (1761) encouraged Irish-language writers, scholars and publishers to diversify from purely religious and grammatical texts to historical, hagiographical, annalistic and literary works based on the language's unrivalled manuscript heritage. Their travails brought Irish literature to a wider European audience and effectively established Irish philology and linguistics as professional European academic disciplines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-36
Number of pages24
JournalEighteenth-Century Ireland
Volume28
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2014

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