our words make worlds

Cultural Memory and the Irish Language


This conference, organized by Dr Marcas Mac Coinnigh and taking place at the Institute of Modern Languages Research on 22 February 2019, will examine the role of language in memory, forgetting and remembering during conflict in the North of Ireland.

The conflict in the north of Ireland, euphemistically known as ‘the Troubles’ (1968-1998), witnessed the acute ideological and physical confrontation of Irish Nationalism-Republicanism, Unionism-Loyalism, and the British State over a prolonged thirty-year period. The role of memory in this conflict has been comprehensively investigated in disciplines such as History, Political Science, Anthropology, and Sociology (see Smyth 2017), yet the question of the Irish language has been a noticeable omission. Moreover, within the ‘post-conflict’ period, the issue of culture and particularly the question of language has become the main source of contestation in political negotiations (e.g. the devolved institutions in Belfast have been in abeyance since January 2017 over the very issue of an Irish Language Act). This conference will examine memory and the Irish language to see how ‘forgetting’ and ‘remembering’ have featured in the construction of oppositional group identities with a focus on language. Furthermore, it will seek to contextualise these perspectives within contemporary scholarly frameworks of memory to provide a better understanding of the nature and function of memory in communities where language is contested. 

To book a place, visit the conference webpage.

Further reading:

Smyth, Jim (Ed.) 2017. Remembering the Troubles. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.