Office—School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 10 Burlington Rd., Dublin 4, Ireland.
Writer and educator. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin, Ireland, assistant professor.
The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World, Cork University Press (Cork, Ireland), 1990.
Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality, Cork University Press (Cork, Ireland), 2007.
Coeditor, Celtica 22 and Celtica 23.
Author and educator Michelle O'Riordan is an assistant professor in the School of Gaelic Studies of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
O'Riordan is the author of two book-length studies that examine Irish poetry and its place in the Gaelic world. In The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World, O'Riordan reconsiders the function of Irish Bardic poetry in terms of how it represented a response to conquest. For O'Riordan, it is a mistake to look for such a response, especially within the realm of Irish poetry. Bardic poetry of the time "was not concerned with the here and now, nor with events nor with chronology," commented reviewer Thomas Bartlett in the Linen Hall Review. Because the "conquest" had little discernible impact on the daily lives or mentality of the Gaelic world of the time, concerns about it or reactions to it were not reflected in the contemporary Bardic poetry, which functioned under its own timeless laws and conditions. Bartlett noted that O'Riordan's assessment does not include consideration of the nonpoetic works that were also common, including prose, annals, and pious works.
O'Riordan again examines Gaelic Bardic poetry in Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality. In this work, she carefully considers a number of Irish-language poems written in the post-Norman period, analyzing their rhetorical content and placing them in context with other poetic works from Europe in the High Middle Ages. A writer on the Stylus Publishing Web site described the book in this way: "This study explores the rhetorical devices used by Irish bardic poets to create poetry of literary worth and abiding interest." For O'Riordan, Irish poets operated within the European poetic areas of elegy, eulogy, and satire, reported Choice reviewer E.M. Slotkin. In her analysis, O'Riordan does not see any exclusionary trend in the history and development of Irish poetry. She finds no evidence that Irish Bardic poetry is a model of an "unbroken, unique poetic tradition" that avoided influence from sources in continental Europe. O'Riordan explores the wide literary world occupied by Irish Bardic poetry, infusing her study with scholarly assessments published over the century. She looks at the literary nature of Irish poetry, and works to place it within the context of a vibrant, active, and engaged literary culture that thrived in Ireland. In the end, she sees Irish verse as a "fully chromatic, vibrant, humorous, scholarly, and literary enterprise," commented the Stylus Publishing Web site contributor. Slotkin concluded, "This scholarly book makes a striking contribution to a field that is too little studied."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice, October, 2007, E.M. Slotkin, review of Irish Bardic Poetry and Rhetorical Reality, p. 284.
Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Celtic Studies,http://www.celt.dias.ie/ (February 4, 2008).
Linen Hall Review,http://www.ricorso.net/rx/library/criticism/revue/ (February 4, 2008), Thomas Bartlett, review of The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World.
Stylus Publishing Web site,http://styluspub.com/ (February 4, 2008), biography of Michelle O'Riordan.