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The Middle Ages in the Modern WorldTwenty-first century perspectives$
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Bettina Bildhauer and Chris Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266144

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.001.0001

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‘The North Remembers’: The Uses and Abuses of the Middle Ages in Irish Political Culture

‘The North Remembers’: The Uses and Abuses of the Middle Ages in Irish Political Culture

Chapter:
(p.45) 2 ‘The North Remembers’: The Uses and Abuses of the Middle Ages in Irish Political Culture
Source:
The Middle Ages in the Modern World
Author(s):

Eamon Byers

Stephen Kelly

Kath Stevenson

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.003.0003

‘Each person in Ulster’, Seamus Heaney famously remarked, ‘lives first in the Ulster of the actual present and then in one or other Ulster of the mind.’ While explicit reference to the Middle Ages may seem conspicuous by its absence in the litany of formative dates which pepper contemporary political and popular narrative in the North of Ireland – whether 1690 (the Battle of the Boyne), 1798 (the Rebellion of the United Irishmen), 1801 (the Act of Union), 1912 (the signing of the Ulster Covenant), 1916 (the Easter Rising) or 1998 (the signing of the Good Friday Agreement) – this essay argues, through examination of three case studies – of Cú Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster; the Red Hand; and St Patrick – that medievalism is at the very centre, both chronologically and conceptually, of the historicising reflexes of Irish politics.

Keywords:   Ireland, Northern Ireland, Ulster, medievalism, Irish politics, Red Hand, St Patrick, Cú Chulainn, Game of Thrones

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