Irish literary renaissance

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).

Flowering of Irish literary talent in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was closely allied with a strong political nationalism and a revival of interest in Ireland's Gaelic heritage (see Gaelic revival). Other factors in the renaissance were the retelling of ancient heroic legends in books such as Standish O'Grady's History of Ireland (1878, 1880) and Douglas Hyde's A Literary History of Ireland (1899), and the Gaelic League, formed in 1893 to revive the Irish language and culture. It developed into a vigorous literary force centred on William Butler Yeats; other important figures were Augusta Gregory, John Millington Synge, and Sean O'Casey. Seealso Abbey Theatre.

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The Irish Literary Theatre was a precursor to the Abbey Theatre. Founded by W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, George Moore and Edward Martyn in 1899, this theatre had presented a number of plays by the founders and other writers, including Padraic Colum.

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