Publication Details

Lucchitti, I. M. (2013). The Blasket Islands and the literary imagination. Shima: the international journal of research into island cultures, 7 (1), 1-10.

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As part of an ancient mythology that saw an animated nature reflected in every place and thing, the island motif has long resonated with spiritual and political significance within Irish culture, and none more so than the Blasket Islands, which rose to prominence as Ireland undertook the processes of national Revival. Reverberating with the ancient significances of the island motif as a place of heightened metaphysical experience, the Great Blasket Island, home of Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Suilleabháin, stirred the imaginations of those who lived upon it and of those who visited. Although the island community ceased to be more than half a century ago, the Blasket Islands continue to fascinate. This article will offer a brief telling of the Blasket story and then examine the various significances of the island motif in Irish culture that drew the Blasket Islands into the nation’s story of cultural and political revival. It will then consider various representations of the Blaskets in literature written since the demise of the island community – poetry, including Brendan Behan’s ‘A Jackeen Says Goodbye to the Blasket’, Desmond Egan’s ‘The Great Blasket’, Dairena Ní Chinnéide’s suite of poems ‘An Blascaod Mór/The Great Blasket’, and Julie O’Callaghan’s poem, ‘The Great Blasket Island’ followed by two short stories, ‘The Islanders’ by Andrew Sean Greer and Brian Doyle’s ‘The Train’.