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Irish literature

Irish literature Body of work produced by inhabitants of Ireland. The earliest written works, mainly heroic sagas, date from the 7th to the 12th centuries and were composed in Gaelic. A number of lyric poets were also active during this period, writing on historical or religious subjects. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Gaelic was gradually eroded by Norman and English encroachment, preserved only in poetic works commissioned by wealthy patrons. Leading figures in English literature, such as Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne and Oscar Wilde, were of Irish descent. Inspired by the movement for Irish Home Rule, the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw an Irish literary renaissance. Although largely writing in English, the movement drew on the traditions of Gaelic culture. The revival was led by W. B. Yeats. The Abbey Theatre hosted the resurgence in Irish drama, staging plays by J. M. Synge, George Bernard Shaw and Sean O'Casey. James Joyce and Samuel Beckett reflected on Irish culture from self-exile. Leading contemporary Irish writers include Brian Friel and Seamus Heaney.

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Irish literary renaissance

Irish literary renaissance, late 19th- and early 20th-century movement that aimed at reviving ancient Irish folklore, legends, and traditions in new literary works. The movement, also called the Celtic renaissance, was in part the cultural aspect of a political movement that was concerned with self-government for Ireland and discovering a literary past that would be relevant to the struggle for independence. The revival produced some of the best plays of the 20th cent. in the dramas of J. M. Synge and Sean O'Casey and some of the greatest poetry in the works of W. B. Yeats. One of the movement's most impressive achievements was the establishment of the Abbey Theatre. Other important writers of the revival were Lady Gregory, G. W. Russell (pseud. A. E.), and James Stephens. James Joyce was a caustic sometime participant in the movement.

See R. Hogan, After the Irish Renaissance (1967); J. W. Foster, Forces and Themes in Ulster Fichon (1974).

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Irish literature

Irish literature: see Gaelic literature.

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