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Posts tagged "irish history"

Students of Anglo-Irish literature and Irish history may be interested to learn that their studies could be markedly different were it not for the phenomenon of Asperger’s syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. Professor Michael Fitzgerald from the department of child and adolescent psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin has uncovered a link between levels of unusual creativity in men and Asperger’s syndrome. Among the outstanding figures of the past century whom he reckons were affected by this developmental disorder are the Nobel prize winning poet WB Yeats and the politician Eamonn de Valera.

Dr Mary Condren, author of the groundbreaking The Serpent and the Godess, is a former Carmelite nun, with degrees in theology, sociology, and social anthropology. A combination of studies which she says, in the introduction to her book, has “to this day left me unable to read any text without asking questions about power, sexuality, and economics”

She spoke to TMO about nationalism, patriarchy, and sexual politics - full interview here

The romantic view of terrorists as misfits and lost souls, presented by Dostoevsky and Conrad in their novels is not borne out by Irish History

Tom Brace argues that  all war is a form of terrorism, buut not all ‘terrorists’ conform to the same pattern as is shown by looking at Ireland’s War of Independence

One of the interesting things about biography is its limits. You can make educated guesses but you can never really know people’s motivations and desires. People aren’t necessarily conscious of the motives which drive them. It’s very easy to rationalise anything we want or that is in our interest, no matter how it appears to others. Hitler – one of the most incontrovertibly evil people in history – perceived himself as doing good. The same goes for most fanatics, then or now. Like most fascists, O’Duffy was egotistical, megalomaniacal, irrational and full of contradictions. But his entire career was also informed by a desire – whether consciously hypocritical or not – to make Ireland a morally and culturally pure nation.” (Fearghal McGarry)

Queens University Belfast Historian Dr. Fearghal McGarry interviewed in TMO about his biography of Ireland’s oft forgotten fascist leader Eoin O’Duffy - Eoin O’Duffy, Self-Made Hero

Censorship is not limited to totalitarian States. It can be a subtle thing, when disconcerting ideas are not banned, but, through various means, marginalised. Dr. Mary Condren’s groundbreaking work The Serpent and the Goddess, a study on women, religion and power in Celtic Ireland, was never placed on an index of banned books, and yet it remained until recently a very difficult book to get your hands on. As Condren describes in the introduction to the latest edition of the book [New Island Books 2002], in 1989 when The Serpent and the Goddess was first published, despite an enthusiastic public reception and encouraging sales, getting the book into shops proved difficult.

Perhaps not surprising, given the scope of the book. While concerned with themes of a universal importance, in an Ireland to a large extent dominated by the twin ideologies of Nationalism and Catholicism, the book challenged a number of ‘sacred cows’. For example, Condren argues in the book, “surely, just as England had colonised the people of Ireland, we Irish women were, just as effectively, a people colonised by the patriarchal relations of Church and State?”[The Serpent and the Goddess - pg xviii].

In a wide ranging interview ground-breaking scholar Dr Mary Condren talks about religion, tribal identities, and the violence of certain historical narratives.

The relationship with her was a fantasy, completely unrealistic. She had no relationship with him on a personal level, and if you want to have a relationship, it has to have two partners. This was a one-person-relationship where an autistic person was basically having a relationship with himself


Did W.B. Yeats have Asperger’s Syndrome? Prof. Michael Fitzgerald of Trinity College Dublin suggests that he may well have, along with other figures from Irish history like Eamonn De Valera.