Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5d6d958fb5-8cb25 Total loading time: 0.286 Render date: 2022-11-27T06:51:37.140Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

9 - Reading in the gutters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 April 2011

Eric Falci
University of California, Berkeley
Peter Mackay
Queen's University Belfast
Edna Longley
Queen's University Belfast
Fran Brearton
Queen's University Belfast
Get access


Contemporary poetry in Irish and Scottish Gaelic emerges out of a tangle of material conditions. Closely related minority languages, Irish and Scottish Gaelic have continually outlived their supposed deaths, surviving traditionally in regions in northwest Scotland and the west and southwest of the island of Ireland. Severely weakened in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, both have undergone periods of revitalisation since the late nineteenth century, and though the number of native speakers of both languages continues to decline, the second half of the twentieth century featured renewed efforts to incorporate Gaelic more substantially into educational programmes and bolster institutional support for Gaelic cultural activities within and without the Gaeltacht and Gàidhealtachd. While neither has yet achieved Welsh's sustained renaissance, both are healthier than the many languages around the world in immediate danger of extinction. Additionally, Irish and Scottish cultural activities and products have thrived in the Anglo-American marketplace, and Ireland and Scotland are cultural and genealogical touchstones for large numbers of people globally. Gaelic has long been imagined to be the repository of origins in Irish cultural debates, and while the situation is surely different in Scotland, where English, Scots and Scottish Gaelic exist in a nuanced tension, both languages carry notions of authenticity even as their actual day-to-day use has declined over the past two centuries. The relevance and portability of Irishness and Scottishness in a postmodern and hyper-capitalist global fabric has both furthered and forestalled their obsolescence.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Translation in a Postcolonial Context: Irish Literature in English Translation (Manchester: St Jerome Publishing, 1999)
Cronin's, MichaelTranslating Ireland: Translation, Languages, Cultures (Cork University Press, 1996)Google Scholar
Venuti's, The Translator's Invisibility: A History of Translation, 2nd edn (New York: Routledge, 2008)Google Scholar
An Tuil: Anthology of 20th Century Scottish Gaelic Verse (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1999), lxiv–lxvi
Dàin do Eimhir agus Dàin Eile (Glasgow: William MacLellan, 1943)
Dàin do Eimhir (Poems to Eimhir) (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2008), 1–41
Benjamin, Walter, ‘The Task of the Translator’, in Illuminations, trans. Zohn, Harry and ed. Arendt, Hannah (New York: Schocken, 1969), 69–82, 71Google Scholar
Bateman, Meg, Soirbheas/Fair Wind (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1997), 174–5Google Scholar
Gorman, Rody, Air a' Charbad fo Thalamh/On the Underground (Edinburgh: Polygon, 2000), 168Google Scholar
Lochlainn, Gearóid Mac, Sruth Teangacha/Stream of Tongues (Conamara: Cló Iar-Chonnachta, 2002), 190Google Scholar
Selected Essays (Dublin: New Island, 2005)
Dhomhnaill, Nuala Ní, Selected Essays, ed. Frawley, Oona (Dublin: New Island, 2005), 200Google Scholar
Dhomhnaill, Nuala Ní, Pharaoh's Daughter (Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest University Press, 1993 [1990]), 48–9Google Scholar
Dhomhnaill, Nuala Ní, Selected Poems: Rogha Dánta, trans. Hartnett, Michael (Dublin: New Island/Raven Arts, 1986/1993), 99Google Scholar
Heaney, Seamus, Poems, 1965–1975 (New York: Noonday, 1988), 192Google Scholar

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats