Ancient Ireland

Parsons, G. (2023) Ancient Ireland. In: Arrington, L. and Campbell, M. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of W.B. Yeats. Series: Oxford handbooks. Oxford University Press, pp. 115-133. ISBN 9780198834670 (doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198834670.013.10)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


The places and times to which Cuchulain and Oisin alike belonged were conceptualized by William Butler Yeats as ‘ancient Ireland’. This chapter seeks to illuminate some sources underpinning Yeats’s long and fruitful engagement with—as he saw it—the literary output of Ireland’s ancient past, born of his desire to forge a national, anglophone literature for Ireland. It shows how Yeats’s ancient Ireland was built on foundations laid in the 1880s and 1890s, using materials from the 1850s and 1860s, and how those foundations were broader than is sometimes acknowledged. It argues that Yeats made greater use of the work of Eugene O’Curry than has hitherto been acknowledged.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Yeats, Ireland, Irish literature, Anglo-Irish literature, Celtic studies, medieval Irish literature, medieval Gaelic literature.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Parsons, Dr Geraldine
Authors: Parsons, G.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages > PB1201 Irish Language
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Celtic and Gaelic
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Published Online:18 July 2023

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record