Declan Kiberd On Exploring Irish Identity Through Culture
Declan Kiberd is former Professor of English at UCD and now holds the same position at the University of Notre Dame in the United States.
His new book, After Ireland, looks at the role artists have played in the analysis of Irish political and economic events.
"It begins in the late '40s when John A. Costello declared Ireland a republic and kind of comes to a conclusion with the recent financial crisis and the fact that the country was micro-managed by outsiders."
"My argument is that culture is really the main centre of the action when it comes to exploring an Irish identity, and I look at the way writers did that. It's about being Irish but transcending the limitation."
Declan thinks we have lost "a fair degree of political and economic sovereignty" in recent years, but our artists have always been ahead of others in exploring this.
"We were never entirely self-determined, but in culture we have a way of projecting and exploring our freedom."
"I do think that artists predict things. They know what's really going on and they tell us."
Does Ireland disappoint him?
"I'm frustrated at times by the willingness of Irish people to accommodate themselves to catastrophe and extreme difficulty, and our recent history has given us many examples of that," he says.
However, he cites the legalisation of same-sex marriage as an example of positive change.
"There are all kinds of ways in which I think the actual people on the ground are ahead of the institutions. There's an institutional lag - political leaders seem warped in a different timescale."