Fenian Tradition and Gaelic Identity from Past to Present

March 2018

The vast cycle of stories about the hero Fionn and his heroic band has thrived from the era of the earliest written literature in Irish to recent times, in the oral traditions of speakers of Irish and Scottish Gaelic, and in the popular culture and educational system of contemporary Ireland. Throughout this long span, Fionn and his heroic companions, simultaneously culture heroes and perennial social outsiders, have played a vital role as vehicles for the development of a nascent nationalism as well as of a counterbalancing cosmopolitanism—trends that have engaged in a lively dialectic since early medieval times. Now that more attention is being paid by younger generations of scholars to the Fenian tradition, and its ideological importance throughout the histories of Gaelic Ireland and Scotland is increasingly appreciated, our workshop will produce a major advance in the understanding of the diverse materials that constitute the Fenian tradition and their historical contexts, as well as offer a unique opportunity to discover further what this tradition has “said” and still has to “say” about Gaelic concepts of identity, both individual and collective.

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