Saothar Mháire agus Dúshlán an Fichiú Céad

Translated title of the thesis: Thesis on Séamus Ó Grianna [Máire]: Máire’s writings and the Challenge of the Twentieth Century
  • Ciarán Ó Dornáin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Séamus Ó Grianna [Máire from this onwards] was a writer who was intricately involved with the twentieth century. The twentieth century presented him with various challenges and his writings presented a challenge to the twentieth century. With the passage of time, Máire’s writings have earned a reputation as being concerned solely with old-fashioned notions of traditional Gaeltacht life. It is felt that they did not refer to, and have little or no relevance to, contemporary life. While it can be readily admitted that there is a kernel of truth in that caricature, it is the aim of this thesis to re-evaluate the whole of Máire’s works to show how Máire’s works deal with more than the past. To that end, the contemporary themes in Máire’s various writings will be looked at. More than this, however, it will be argued here that Máire’s approach show him to be a progressive and radical twentieth century writer. This can be seen particularly in relation to his analysis of the role of imperialism, the value he attaches to native culture and in his social attitudes, particularly to the traditional role of women. It is the argument of this thesis that Máire’s approach has much in common with literary modernism as it emerged in fin-de-siècle western Europe. Máire was part of the ‘archaic avantgarde’ whose aim was to create a synthesis of the old and new. He created his own literary doctrine of ‘Irish Art’ to address contemporary social and political questions. It will also be shown, however, that Máire also drew on other non-native literary models. While grounding his prose on the oral tradition, Máire consciously sought out and studied English literature as well as contemporary European literature. Máire bound various ancient and modern elements in his writings to produce a literary form most suited to his contemporary needs. It will be further argued that this approach prefigured, and was eminently suited to, the postcolonial era. It is in this context that the modernizing value of his approach is best appreciated. The framework of modern western European literature and criticism is found wanting in analysing a writer like Máire. Aspects of his work will be discussed in the context of postcolonial theory and it will be seen that Máire’s approach can be compared with postcolonial writers who emerged after the second European war.
Date of AwardJun 2018
Original languageIrish
SponsorsSt Mary's University College, Belfast
SupervisorGearoid O Domagain (Supervisor) & Fionntán De Brun (Supervisor)


  • iarchoilíneachas
  • íochtarán
  • organic intellectual
  • firthbheartaíocht
  • litríocht
  • athbheochan
  • nua-aoiseachas
  • canóin

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