Cultural Links between Irish and Scottish Gaelic

The Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures cordially invites you to the workshop “Cultural Links between Irish and Scottish Gaelic”, organized as part of KREAS project.


9:30 Opening of the workshop

Máire Ní Annracháin (University College Dublin): The music of the Otherworld and the language of heroes: soundings and resoundings in Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic literature

The folklorist Gearóid Ó Crualaoich has argued that the two great impulses of Irish literature, whether written or oral, are An Ceol Sí and Friotal na Laoch, which could be loosely translated as ‘The Music of the Otherworld’ and ‘The Language of Heroes’. This session will consider examples of both of these as they were taken up and re-imagined in Irish-language and Scottish Gaelic literature over the past century. The cailleach, or goddess of sovereignty, often figured as a hag, was intimately associated with, and often personified the land of Ireland. She is found in Scotland, though less centrally. She has generated one of the most productive tropes of modern Irish literature; we will examine some of these, which are often ironic in tone, and will find some examples from Scotland. The role of the hero, another seminal figure, was similarly connected to the land and its fertility. We will consider the role of the hero as it too has become transformed in the modern period in the Gaelic literature of both countries.
(Ó Crualaoich, G. ‘An Ceol Sí agus Friotal na Laoch – Toradh an ghnímh liteartha ‘nár measc’  Comhar Bealtaine 1992, 92-99)

Petra Johana Poncarová (Charles University): Derick Thomson and Ireland

In this paper, I will look at Derick Thomson’s lifelong concern with Irish literature, culture, and politics, which manifested itself in his editorials, essays, and reviews for the quarterly Gairm and also in is academic work, translations, and poetry. I will mention how efforts to promote the Irish language inspired Thomson’s own conception of Scottish Gaelic revitalization efforts, both in terms of adopting good practices in Scotland and avoiding policies and initiatives which did not prove productive in Ireland. In terms of engagement with Irish writers, I will discuss Thomson’s long-standing interest in W. B. Yeats, who, in the context of Scottish Gaelic poetry, tends to be associated chiefly with Sorley MacLean.

Coffee break

Peter Mackay (University of St Andrews): “On Irish Poets Writing in Scotland”

Starting from the polyglot work of the Dublin-born and Skye-based Rody Gorman, who writes in Scottish and Irish Gaelic, English and his own invented deconstruction of English, Sweeney-ese, this will explore recent poetic connections between the two countries, including the diasporic Gaelic writing of Niall O’Gallagher, the Gaelic and Irish peregrinations of David Wheatley, and the ‘minoritized diasporic’ position of poets in English such as Alan Gillis, Miriam Gamble, Aoife Lyall and Rachel McCrum.

Christopher Whyte (independent scholar, Budapest): “What Horrors Could Be Worse Than These?”: Growing Up in Catholic Glasgow

Even at the start of the 1990s, prising the terms ‘Irish’ and ‘Catholic’ apart demanded a major effort in central Scotland. A difference in religion was synonymous with a fundamental difference in culture and in race. Who was allowed to claim that they were “Scottish”? And who was subjected to a relentless process of “foreignisation”? With the help of a poem and a piece of music, I will describe what “the seven horrors” were, with a particular focus on the last three – disidentification, amnesia and exclusion from cultural representation. Then, with reference to a Kenyan novelist’s analysis of the effects of British – English – colonialism in Ireland and in Africa, I hope to show how a predicament that had seemed exquisitely personal to begin with actually typified a whole community, and discuss the often paradoxical consequences of searching for strategies with which to overcome it, so as finally to emerge onto the stage of what is talked about and represented.

13:00-14:00 lunch break

Caoimhe Nic Lochlainn (Dublin City University): Réics Carló in Albain agus scéalta eile | Depictions of Scotland in 20th century Irish-language Prose

This paper intends to examine depictions of Scotland in 20th century Irish-language prose across a range of genres: fiction, autobiography, travel writing, translations and children’s literature. References to our closest neighbour are diverse: Séamas Ó Grianna’s oeuvre frequently referred to Scotland as a place of toil, an economic imperative; “Beirt Shiubhlóirí” wrote a travelogue in the 1930s of their hiking trip around Scotland; there are unexpected references to the Isle of Skye in Tomás Mac Aodh Bhuí’s translation of Enid Blyton’s The Secret Mountain, which is set in Africa; while the prolific Cathal Ó Sándair attempted to have his famous detective, Réics Carló finally visit Scotland in the 1980s. This research will examine how these texts and authors represent space, language, culture and religion in Scotland. Where available, editorial advice and attitudes to the representation of Scotland will also be considered, as well as contemporary reviews of the work.

Radvan Markus (Charles University): Máirtín Ó Cadhain and Scotland

In the last twenty lines of what is arguably Ó Cadhain’s most important literary manifesto, Páipéir Bhána agus Páipéir Bhreaca (1969), one can be surprised to find two references to Scotland, pointing to two minoritized languages spoken in the country. This paper uses archival and newspaper sources in order to explore Ó Cadhain’s manifold relationship to Scotland and Scottish Gaelic.  Ó Cadhain’s interest in Scotland can be seen in the context of the author’s complex positioning of himself as an international writer, while always remaining loyal to the Irish language and his native Gaeltacht. An outreach to literatures in other small languages, especially of the Celtic branch, was an integral part of this strategy. The paper concentrates principally on a series of twenty-four articles, mostly in Irish, which Ó Cadhain published in the Irish Times in 1953 and 1954.  In these, he gives an account of the 1953 Jubilee Mòd in Oban and informs the readers about the history and prospects of Scottish Gaelic, as well as the Scottish struggle for autonomy within the UK.  Ó Cadhain draws multiple comparisons with the situation in Ireland, showcases his knowledge of Scottish Gaelic song and modern literature, and displays a keen sense of paradox as well as his characteristic wit and humour.

Coffee break

Gerard Cairns (independent scholar, Glasgow): “The Honourable Ruaraidh Erskine of Marr and the ‘Kings’ of Ireland”

My contention in this paper is to look at how Ruaraidh Erskine of Marr interacted with some key aspects of contemporary Irish culture by focusing on some imagined kings of that country. The paper will look at these points of contact and their impact on the ‘kings’ and their concerns, as well as on Erskine himself.


  • The Gaelic League orthodoxy : the impact of Irish organization and thinking on Erskine’s own cultural and political journey with a focus on the influence of Arthur Griffith and the Hungarian model of dual monarchy and how notions of kingship became more prevalent in Erskine’s thinking.
  • Pearse’s little king: Patrick Pearse had written for Erskine’s Guth na Bliadhna in late 1905 on education in the west of Ireland. A theme that Pearse would develop in a series of lectures as well as an Irish language play, The King: A Morality Tale which would develop notions of foster ship, monarchy, faith and sacrifice.
  • The literary ‘kings’: looks at the Anglo-Irish school as a challenge primarily to the Gaelic League orthodoxy and secondarily to Erskine’s thoughts on Gaelic drama. I will look at Erskine’s motivators for his position and his real level of awareness of the debates and conflicts unleashed by the success of Ireland’s National Theatre.
  • The high-king of Ireland: this section will look at two pieces of literature that were so against the grain of contemporary thinking. These were William Ferris’ The Gaelic Commonwealth and Erskine’s Changing Scotland and I will look at their respective timing and their rootedness in the 1904 orthodoxy.
  • Kingship as a motif: an idea that would Erskine would never abandon and explains his Gaelic enthusiasm, his own faith and his own future literary endeavours in a Scottish and English context.

Alan Titley (University College Cork): A Potent Mix: Modernising History, Mythology and Society in the Fiction of the Islands

The islands of Ireland and Scotland have often been seen as the most authentic places of Irish/Gaelic linguistic purity. They are thus often depicted as places unsullied by the rampant Anglicisation of their worlds. Classics of this traditional life are elevated as examples of a life that might have been, of a time which could have been a rational stepping-stone into modernity without great rupture. On the other hand, islands have also been depicted as places that were backward, left behind, primitive, the location of peoples beyond the pale of civilized discourse.

The classic accounts of island life such as the Blasket autobiographies An tOileánach and Peig, or the Gaelic A’ Suathadh ri Iomadh Rubha and Saoghal an Treobhaiche will always be what they are. The challenge is how can island life be depicted when these traditional ways are gone without being simply part of the main, undifferentiated from the rest? This paper looks at some of those attempts in the Irish and Gaelic novel, in particular those of Proinsias Mac a’ Bhaird and Iain F. Macleoid, with some excursions by skiff and currach to other outliers.

17:00 – 18:00 Concluding discussion

This event is supported by the European Regional Development Fund project “Creativity and Adaptability as Conditions of the Success of Europe in an Interrelated World” (reg. no.: CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000734).

Podrobnosti události

Začátek události
11th November 2022 9:30 - 18:00
Místo konání
Room 201, Faculty of Arts, nám. Jana Palacha 2, Prague 1
Typ události
Conferences, Seminars
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