Type: Review Article
Ó Buachalla, Breandán. ‘Poetry and Politics in Early Modern Ireland’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 7 (1992), Pp 149-175..
This article takes as its starting point The Gaelic Mind and the Collapse of the Gaelic World by Michelle O Riordan (Cork University Press, 1990), in which the author selects the themes of unity, sovereignty and acceptance of the fait accompli as crucial to an understanding of bardic poetry and the Gaelic aristocratic mentality. Ó Buachalla dismisses the authors thesis but considers it a challenging and novel one which warrants a comprehensive and informed critique. The rest of the article provides such a critique, in which there are extended quotations from sources which Ó Buachalla considers O Riordan to have neglected or misrepresented. The passages he quotes show how bards and others did not show the conservative attitudes suggested by O Riordan but, on the contrary, accepted the changing order realistically and adapted to those changes, particularly in the seventeenth century. Ó Buachalla leaves down O Riordans book with a deep sense of disappointment as the fundamental questions raised by its thesis and methodology have never been addressed; nor have its terms of reference as encapsulated in the title (Gaelic Mind… Gaelic World) been adequately defined or considered.