Easter 1916: Revolutionary Medievalists, the Celtic Revival, and the Cultural War for Irish Independence (A Roundtable) at the Western Michigan University Medieval Congress,


Location: Western Michigan University, Schneider 1220

Easter 1916: Revolutionary Medievalists, the Celtic Revival, and the Cultural War for Irish Independence (A Roundtable) at the Western Michigan University International Congress on Medieval Studies

Friday, May 13: 10-11:30 AM in Schneider 1220

2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the dramatic and devastating events of the Easter Rising and the proclamation establishing the Irish Republic, ultimately giving way to an independent Ireland. More so than other nations fighting their way out of colonial situations, the Irish turned to their medieval past: key figures in the Irish insurgency and later political leaders of the newly-founded Irish state were prominent medieval scholars, and the ideology, imagery and rhetoric of the fight for Irish independence relied heavily on medieval art, story and mythology. One hundred years on, it is time to examine the role that the Celtic Revival, a material, linguistic, literary and mythological turn to the “Golden Age” of Medieval Ireland, played in allowing the Irish to construct a new history and identity for themselves as a nation. This interdisciplinary roundtable at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies will consider critical questions such as:

How were medieval characters and stories used to martial Irish support in the fight to leave the British Empire? What strands reappear in (re)constructions of the medieval Irish past ca. 1916? Were turns to the Classical world as prominent as turns to the Celtic Middle Ages? What did it mean for the men and women of the Celtic Revival to costume themselves as medieval Irish nobles, to choose to perform their late 19th and early 20th c. identities as Irish people in the materials, terms, stories and images of medieval Irishness? What role did medieval “icons of Irishness” (Williams), the investment in simulacra and ability to possess reproductions, mean for newly conceived national Irish identities? Why did so many politically and militarily active figures adopt the images, names, rhetoric and identities of early medieval heroes and heroines? Did medieval models for active, militaristic Irish female citizenships provide real alternatives to the objectified, passive Mother Ireland images that proliferated in the verbal and visual rhetoric of the Easter Rising? Finally, how has the close intertwining of medieval Irish culture with the fight for and establishment of Irish independence shaped our own scholarly treatments of the sources?


“Oliver Sheppard’s vision of the Celtic Revival,” Meredith Bacola, Univ. of Manitoba

“Ireland’s Youth and the Heroic and Saintly Past,” Aedin Clements, Univ. of Notre Dame

“The Book of Kells, Old Saint Pat’s Church, and Revolutionary Images in Irish-Catholic Chicago,” Amy C. Mulligan, Univ. of Notre Dame

“Thomas MacDonough and Shakespeare,” Rory Rapple, Univ. of Notre Dame

“Celtic Heroes in Early Twentieth-Century School Curricula and Children’s Literature,” Catherine Swift, Mary Immaculate College, Univ. of Limerick

Respondent (and Presider): Maggie M. Williams, William Paterson Univ.


Organizer: Amy Mulligan (amullig2@nd.edu)

Co-sponsored by Roinn Theanga agus Litríocht na Gaeilge/Dept. of Irish Language and Literature, Univ. of Notre Dame, and ASIMS (American Society for Irish Medieval Studies)


Please also join us for the Kalamazoo Medieval Ireland Reception (open bar) on Friday 13 May, at 5:15 PM in Fetzer 1035, co-sponsored by Notre Dame’s Department of Irish Language and Literature and the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies (ASIMS).

For more information, please contact Professor Amy Mulligan (mulligan.22@nd.edu)