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The Soul-Searching Landscape of Irish Literature

 Sara Harding
I arrived on Inishmaan at night. The sea was rough, and there was no way for our ferry to tie up at the small cement dock. The crew brought the bobbing ferry as close as they dared and one of the crewmen jumped ashore. Two other crewman took up stations by the door and each time a swell lifted our ship to the level of the dock, the crewmen threw one of us passengers to their waiting mate. We tried to dash to land between the waves that periodically splashed over the pier. Some of us made it, some got wet.  After the crew tossed all of the passengers ashore, they threw our bags after us. When the last bag landed, the lone crewman jumped back into the ferry and the ship chugged off into the dark. read on

Synge: entre Paris et Inis Meàin

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John Millington Synge ((1871-1909), poète, écrivain et accessoirement musicien, était aussi photographe. Issu de la bourgeoisie protestante irlandaise, il passa une partie de sa vie à voyager pour étudier les arts et la littérature.

En 1897, malade, il décide de vivre entre Paris et Inis Meàn, dans les îles d'Aran. Il y effectue un véritable travail d'ethnologue, sillonnant la campagne avec son appareil-photo, collectant récits et chansons à chacun de ses passages.

En 1907, il publie son livre Les Iles d'Aran, illustré par Jack Butler Yeats. Les photos prises par Synge dans les îles d'Aran entre 1898 et 1902 ne seront rassemblées et publiées qu'en 1971 dans un recueil intitulé My Wallet of Photographs aux éditions Dolmen Press.

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Irish novelist's quest for a perfect Aran


It is hard for me to think about the Aran Islands, the three rugged outposts off the coast of Galway, without dreaming of a perfect pint of Guinness on a drizzling summer afternoon, when all hopes of walking, or cycling, or swimming had been gloriously dampened by the weather, and there was only one place to go, and that was the pub. And from the window you could study the gray sky over the fierce Atlantic ocean, the white wash of the waves breaking in the distance, and somehow the drink in your hand, the beauty of the black and white liquid, the silky softness of its taste, especially if you were on your second or third pint, meant freedom, ease, time you treasured and longed for.

Read more....

I--Colm Tóibín is the author of the novels "Brooklyn" and "The Master."

See also Sean Scully: Walls of Aran with afterword by Colm Toibin

O Ceallaigh's journey of longing to Inis Mor

The Pleasant Light of Day
Philip O Ceallaigh
Penguin, €16.89

By Emer O'Kelly
Sunday July 12 2009

When Philip O Ceallaigh's first collection of stories burst on the reading public, it had a fairly electrifying effect. The likelihood was that after Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse, his second collection might disappoint; and a dip would have been acceptable from such a disturbingly unique voice. But The Pleasant Light of Day merely confirms his reputation.

That, in itself, is phenomenal: to have become a respected fixture with only two books is, to say the least, unusual.

There are, by and large, three locales for this collection of stories (where there is a recognisable locale other than the uneasy world of a detached soul). They are set in Ireland, North Africa and eastern Europe, all made similar to each other by their individual narrators/central characters who obsessively seek salvation through a kind of grim self-sufficiency that withdraws fearfully from contact with the world.

From the student residences of Galway to the tourist hotels of Cairo and chalets of rest in the mountains of eastern Europe, the locale is actually a desert of the soul, a single journey of troubled longing, ending nowhere, but with arms still reaching out.

In Tombstone Blues, a man follows the reputed travels of St Antony to the roots of Coptic Christianity and settles in for what purports to be some research in a monastery library. Effectively, he is in retreat, indeed "on" retreat as Roman Christianity would put it. The supervising priest does not read the books which surround him. Questioned, he says merely, "I used to".

The pilgrim reflects on Athanasius' Life of St Anthony, in which the saint is mocked because he has no letters, and when he questions his mockers as to which is first, mind or letters of mind, they accept that mind is first and the inventor of letters. Antony tells them, "Whoever, therefore, hath a sound mind hath not need of letters."

The equating of anti-intellectualism with purity and peace of mind pervades most of the stories. That seems to be the universal search, broken only by a surging sexual desire that is almost profane in the context of its cold detachment. The narrator of Tombstone Blues seeks out a woman traveller he sees from his window, uses her as though she were hanging on a cross for him, but never wonders at the self-abasement of her compliance.

He makes no connection when she tells him she is dying of cancer; the darkness he later experiences when there is a power cut in his seedy Cairo hotel illuminates nothing for him: as long as he can locate the bottle beside him without knocking it over, it is enough. It's the light that is disturbing: when the power comes back, he is disturbed because the room is ugly.

In Uprooted, a young lecturer goes to a student party because, until he has tenure, he and his wife can't afford to live together, and he's lonely. The city is Galway, the hostess a young Circe who watches herself exercising power over men. There is damage in her smile, but Jonathan emerges relatively unscathed because he believes "the obstinate will inherit the earth".

Aidan, too, a sculptor at a loose end on a trip from Inis Mor, salvages his equilibrium with a return to the basics of collecting driftwood and preparing his barren island holding for planting after the visual and aural stench of the student party. Isolation is salvation.

Back in Cairo, in the story of the collection title, a man takes his small son to visit the museums, meticulously explaining the meaning of the words he uses to the avid youngster, combining truth with a tempering of realism.

When the boy asks why the ancient arrows on display are barbed, he tells his son it was "to hurt more", not that any attempt to pull them out would have ripped the flesh agonisingly. But he avoids the room of mummies, and as they sit to eat ice cream in the square named for the assassinated Anwar Sadat, he reflects that every generation goes about its business as if none of it had happened before.

This is O Ceallaigh's insistent, contradictory message. To find peace, the stories demand, man (and it is always man: women are receptacles in this strange world) must avoid analysis and immure himself in intellectual oblivion. But, by so doing, he condemns himself to learn nothing. And thus he remains an eternal traveller in a barren, unsure landscape of his own making, out of time and place.

It's a hell of a message; that O Ceallaigh delivers it so compellingly, enticing us, however reluctantly, into what he sees as its lonely certainties, is remarkable.

- Emer O'Kelly

Beidh Cripil Inis Meáin á léiriú in Áras Inis Gluaire, Béal an Mhuirthead, Co. Mhaigheo, Dé Máirt an 21ú Iúil, ag 8.30i.n. I934. Tá scannán Robert Flaherty, Man of Aran, atá á dhéanamh ar Inis Mór, an áit a bhfuil sé suite ag cur iontais ar mhuintir Inis Meáin.

Tapaíonn an 'Cripil' Billí Claven a dheis éalú óna dhá aint atá ag coinneáil súil ghéar air, Kate agus Eilín, lena shaoirse a bhaint amach. Téann sé go hInis Mór ag tóraíocht clú agus cáil le cúnamh ón iascaire Bobby Bhobby in éineacht le cailín báire na dúiche, Helen agus a deartháir Beairtlín, a bhfuil dúil mhór aige i milseáin.

Idir an dá linn, is breá leis an bhfear beadáin Johnny Pheaitín Mhaidhc an deis cainte atá aige agus mearbhall ar mhuintir an oileáin faoi eachtraí an cheathrair agus imní orthu an mbeidh  an 'cripil', Billí, in  ann déanamh dó féin sa saol mór.

Is é Mícheál Ó Conghaile a d'aistrigh an dráma dorcha seo go Gaeilge agus is é Beartla M. Ó Flatharta atá ag déanamh an chéad léirithe riamh de. Baineann pearsantacht láidir agus domhain le carachtair Mhartin McDonagh.

Is taispeántas casta, gasta, greannmhar é seo a choinneoidh an lucht éisteachta faoi dhraíocht de bharr a spraoi agus an spleodar atá faoi.

Tá aisteoirí mór le rá rannpháirteach ann ina measc: Bríd Ní Neachtain, Darach Ó Dubháin, Bridie Ní Churraoin, Mícheál Seoighe, Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill, Brídín Nic Dhonncha, Seán Ó Flatharta, Breandan Murray agus Áine Ní Dhroighneáin. Dearadh Stáitse - Dara McGee agus Dearadh na Soilse ó John Comiskey.

Is é Máirtín O'Connor a chum an ceol agus is é Conor McBrierty atá i mbun Dearadh Fuaime.

Is féidir tuilleadh eolais a fháil agus ticéid a chur in áirithe ag Áras Inis Gluaire (097-81079), nó téigh chuig suíomh idirlíon na féile:

June 16, 2009
From The New York Times

A LONDON nursing home. The shape of a figure beneath the sheets. My grandfather could just about whisper. He wanted a cigarette and a glass of whiskey. "Come up on the bed here, young fella," he said, gruffly. It was 1975 and I was 10 years old and it would be the first -- and probably last -- time I'd ever see him. Gangrene was taking him away. He reached for the bottle and managed to light a cigarette. Spittle collected at the edge of his mouth. He began talking, but most of the details of his life had already begun slipping away.

Long wars, short memories.

Later that afternoon my father and I bid goodbye to my grandfather, boarded a train, then took a night boat back home to Dublin. Nothing but ferry-whistle and stars and waves. Three years later, my grandfather died. He had been, for all intents and purposes, an old drunk who had abandoned his family and lived in exile. I did not go to the funeral. I still, to this day, don't even know what country my grandfather is buried in, England or Ireland.

Sometimes one story can be enough for anyone: it suffices for a family, or a generation, or even a whole culture -- but on occasion there are enormous holes in our histories, and we don't know how to fill them.

Two months ago -- 31 years after my grandfather's death -- I got a case of osteomyelitis, a bone infection. I was admitted to a hospital in New York for a surgical debridement and a high-octane dose of antibiotics. I got a private room, largely because I'm middle class and insured, but also because it was an infectious disease. The double doors clacked when the nurses entered, visitors came and went, but for long stretches of time I listened to the ticking of a Vancomycin drip.

There is a lovely backspin in silence.

I had brought an old copy of "Ulysses," James Joyce's masterpiece that takes place in the back streets of Dublin on June 16, 1904. I wanted to read it cover to cover. I have been dipping into the novel for many years, reading the accessible parts, plundering the icing on the cake, but in truth I had never read it all in one flow.

The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words.

Soon my grandfather was emerging from the novel. The further I went in, the more complex he got. The man whom I had met only once was becoming flesh and blood through the pages of a fiction. After all, he had walked the very same streets of Dublin, on the same day as Leopold Bloom. I began to see my grandfather outside Dlugacz's butcher shop, his hat cocked sideways, watching the moving "hams" of a young girl. I wondered if he had a penchant for "the inner organs of beasts and fowls." I heard him arguing with the Citizen in Barney Kiernan's pub. I felt him mourn the loss of a child.

He walked the city alongside Bloom, then turned the corner into Eccles Street, and then another corner into my hospital room and sat on the edge of my bed. I could smell the whiskey and cigarettes on his breath.

The book carried me through to the far side of my body, made me alive in another time. I was 10 years old again, but this time I knew my grandfather, and it was a moment of gain: he was so much more than a forgotten drunk.

Vladimir Nabokov once said that the purpose of storytelling is "to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right: the times when a man who might put on the most ordinary jacket of today will be dressed up for an elegant masquerade."

This is the function of books -- we learn how to live even if we weren't there. Fiction gives us access to a very real history. Stories are the best democracy we have. We are allowed to become the other we never dreamed we could be.

Today is Bloomsday, the 105th anniversary of the events of the novel. All over the world Joyce fans will gather to celebrate the extraordinary tale of an ordinary day. There will be Bloomsday breakfasts, and Bloomsday love affairs, and Bloomsday arguments and, indeed, Bloomsday grandfathers hoisting their sons, and their sons of sons, onto the shoulders of never-ending stories.

As for me, with a clean bill of health now, I finally know where my grandfather is buried -- happily between the covers of a book, where he sits, smoking and drinking still.

Colum McCann is the author of the forthcoming novel "Let the Great World Spin."

Christopher Nolan, Irish Author, Dies at 43

Christopher Nolan, an Irish writer who, mute and quadriplegic since birth, produced a highly praised volume of verse and short stories at 15 and went on to publish a prize-winning autobiography, "Under the Eye of the Clock," died Friday in Dublin. He was 43 and lived in Sutton, near Dublin.

His death was confirmed by a condolence message from the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese. His family told the Irish and British press that he died after food became trapped in his airway.

Oxygen deprivation during a difficult delivery left Mr. Nolan physically helpless, able to communicate with family members only through eye movements. At 11, supplied with a new drug to relax his neck muscles, he began writing with a "unicorn stick" strapped to his forehead, pecking a letter at a time on a typewriter as his mother held his chin with her hands.

The brain that one doctor had predicted would remain infantile turned out to contain a distinctive literary voice awaiting release.
There's more
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New York Times raves about "Cripple"


On a Barren Isle, Gift of the Gab and Subversive Charm

Published: December 22, 2008
For those of you for whom an annual reading of "A Christmas Carol" is as welcome as a two-ton fruitcake, the Atlantic and Druid Theater Companies have provided a savory alternative. That's the fine imported Irish revival of Martin McDonagh's "Cripple of Inishmaan," which opened Sunday night at the Linda Gross Theater, offering its own salty variation on that sugarplum Tiny Tim. He is called Cripple Billy, and like Dickens's beloved tot, he is sickly, misshapen and deeply wistful. I can promise you, though, that he isn't about to say, "God bless us, everyone."
There's more at the NYT

Arts Trip to an Aran Island

A group of Sligo people are organising the 3rd annual weekend on the Aran island of Inis Meain, promising creativity, community and fun.
There's more

Why it's time to bring a major Irish artist home

Maybe now we've sufficiently recovered from both the cultural ideology of the 1930s and the subsequent reaction against it to look at Peig Sayers for what she is - a remarkable artist. Its time to recognise a great storyteller's magic imagination says The Irish Times' Fintan O'Toole 
read it here

HOLIDAY BOOKS - The New York Times


The New York Times  December 7, 2008 Sunday

(Joshua Hammer, a former bureau chief for Newsweek, is a freelance foreign correspondent. His most recent book is ''Yokohama Burning.)

''Treeless chunks of rock also loom large in J. M. Synge's ARAN ISLANDS and CONNEMARA (Mercier/Dufour, paper, $22.95), based on the playwright's sojourns in the west of Ireland during the last years of the 19th century. Reissued this fall, Synge's classic travel essays chronicle the harsh, dignified lives of the region's Gaelic-speaking inhabitants, who survived -- barely -- by fishing the storm-tossed waters of Galway Bay. ''The red dresses of the women who cluster round the fire on their stools give a glow of almost Eastern richness,'' he writes from the island of Inishmaan, vividly evoking a world of poverty, isolation and endurance, ''and the walls have been toned by the turf-smoke to a soft brown that blends with the gray earth-color of the floor.'' Synge's excursions in currachs -- lightweight canoes piloted by fishermen whose drowned corpses all too often washed up on the islands' beaches -- capture an existence bound inextricably to nature and intimately familiar with death. ''Down in this shallow trough of canvas that bent and trembled with the motion of the men,'' he writes, ''I had a far more intimate feeling of the glory and power of the waves than I have ever known in a steamer.''

Passage to Inis Mor

passage to inis mor.cdr
A Passage to Inis Mor is the story of a 38 year old man, John Carlyle, (nee Sean O'Rourke.) Born in Ireland but taken by his mother to Australia at the age of eight after the accidental death of his father..
As the story opens Sean is experiencing a crisis in his personal life. His wife has left him, taking their seven year old son with her. The advertising agency he owns is in severe financial difficulties, his creditors are threatening to bankrupt him and he's hearing poetic voices in his mind urging him to return to Inis Mor. At first he resists these mysterious promptings but when he receives a letter from his grandmother saying that she's dying and wishes to speak with him, he books a ticket to Ireland. On his return he learns that his grandmother has already died, leaving him a cottage and a dilapidated old sailing boat built by his grandfather.
On his first day back on the island he meets a strange old seafaring man who offers to help him rebuild the boat. As the old man teaches Sean the art of boatbuilding he recounts stories of the seafaring men of Inis Mor, of the Selchies that the island is famous for, and of Sean's own father, Con Rua O'Rourke, whom Sean had thought to be a fisherman but who was, it turns out, a well known Seanachie (Irish storyteller)
The old man teaches in the traditional way, through storytelling, song, and poetry, and it is in working with this mysterious old man that Sean is led to a realisation of his own gifts and his talents and ultimately, back to his heart, his soul and the possible meaning and purpose of his life. (Available now as download or hard copy from )


Directing her first opera, Vaughan Williams's Riders to the Sea at ENO, Fiona Shaw is devastated by the death of its conductor


For the Cork-born Fiona Shaw, her introduction to the world of opera could hardly be more traumatic.

 Last Friday the conductor Richard Hickox was in the midst of exhausting final rehearsals for English National Opera's new production of Vaughan Williams's harrowing opera - the adaption of Synge's Riders to the Sea - a work that is a mere 40 minutes long, yet saturated with death and with people struggling to come to terms with death. On Sunday Hickox himself died of a suspected heart attack. He was just 60.

The 50-year-old actress is making her opera-directing debut with Riders. "I went to a concert Richard was conducting in Cadogan Hall a few days ago," she says. "He told me about his frantic schedule, and I said to him: 'How on earth do you keep going?' He replied: 'Enthusiasm breeds its own energy.' I think those words summed up his whole attitude to life and music. He gave so much. We are in a state of shock. It's as if a hole in the ground has appeared."

But the show will go on, as Hickox would certainly have wished. ENO's music director, Edward Gardner, will conduct. And suddenly the grief portrayed in Riders will have an unexpected and tragic immediacy. "This year has been full of death in my life," Shaw says. "But I thought that, in late November, I was finally out of it. Now this terrible news." Could these performances of Riders prove consolatory, or even cathartic? The subject matter is certainly apt. "We're meeting the central figure, the mother Maurya, at the very end of her tragedy," Shaw says. "Almost everything terrible has already happened to her. What we watch is the straw breaking the camel's back."

That's true. Based on J.M. Synge's 1902 play, the opera is set in an impoverished fishing community on the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland. Maurya has already lost her husband and four sons to the sea. A fifth, Michael, is missing, presumed drowned. Forty minutes later, the dripping body of the sixth and last, Bartley, will be carried in. It's not a show to undertake, or to experience, in anything other than the most serious frame of mind. The subject is grief, raw and unmitigated. Even before Hickox's death, Shaw was already drawing on her own experience of mourning a brother.

In the opera, Maurya has a terrible premonition of the dead Michael leading his one surviving brother into the sea. Shaw, controversially, will depict Michael actually appearing, portrayed by an actor - as if still haunting his mother's consciousness. "I saw my own brother after he died," Shaw says. "I was walking in fields by Stratford-upon-Avon and I saw him - at least a young blond boy exactly like him - by the river. I knew that if I walked up to him he would change into someone else. But from a distance it was him."

And Maurya's vision of the dead brother leading the living one to his death? "Possibly she is projecting her need to be freed of her final son, in order to be permanently released from the terror of the sea," Shaw says.

"I read a wonderful book this summer: Darian Leader's The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia and Depression. It's about how we haven't properly developed our processes for dealing with grief, and coming back to non-grief. It's not just the grief. You also have to deal with the shared memories. My dog was killed earlier this year. I feel that all those walks I did with him belonged in the shared memory of me and him - and now he's taken those shared memories with him. We lose lumps of ourselves when other people grow ill or die. And that can remove some of our own identities. My father is ill at the moment, and I suddenly have had to shift my own identity - put my own life and work on hold - in order to deal with something much more important."

Shaw and the Irish artist Dorothy Cross have set the action of Riders, she says, "literally among the rocks, with these poor, subsistence-level people clinging to existence like crabs". She is also emphasising the wild forces of Nature invoked in the opera by prefacing it with an atmospheric Sibelius vocal work called Nature Spirit, and then with specially composed sounds of whooshing and Celtic keening by the composer John Woolrich ("I told him it must sound like nothing on earth!").

Yet she denies that Riders is a specifically Celtic work. She detects the inexorability of Greek tragedy - and also something closer to home for Vaughan Williams, composing in the 1920s. "After the First World War the overwhelming number of dead meant that a whole generation couldn't deal with grief," she says. "In choosing Synge's play, Vaughan Williams may have been responding to that. He may have noticed people blocking up grief, or diminishing it."

Shaw's belated big-screen fame as Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia, and the unsought gossip-column exposure stemming from her relationship with the actress Saffron Burrows, have not deflected her from the stage. Before preparing Riders she was touring in Beckett's Happy Days, and after the opera opens she will dash to Paris to speak a prologue in a production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas by her longstanding collaborator Deborah Warner. Next year she's back at the National in London to play in Brecht's Mother Courage.

So how difficult has she found adjusting to the very different theatrical rules of opera? "How difficult? Have we got time to do a book? What I have realised is the obvious thing: that the music defines a lot of your choices as director. If I were doing Synge's spoken play there would be lots of moments where I would stop the dialogue and let minutes go by. Here, though, Vaughan Williams sets the pace.

"I'm well out of my comfort zone. I have an L-plate on my back. Having said that, a week ago I was having some of the happiest times I've ever had in a rehearsal room, with a wonderful cast playing scenes brilliantly. Of course, the mood is so different now."

opens at the London Coliseum (0871 9110200) on Thurs

Island Ireland directory for Irish literature

 The Island Ireland directory for Irish literature contains hand-picked links will take you to resources on Irish writing of all kinds, Irish poetry, useful academic organisations and more.
The Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) provides an A-Z Dataset with comprehensive biographical & bibliographical information on 4,500 Irish writers, along with extracts from their works and commentaries. Once you have reached a given author, you can browse through seven possible types of information (Life, Works, Criticism, Commentary, References, Quotations & Notes). The database also includes similar material on Irish serial publications and journals of all periods. A tremendous academic resource...
Columbia University's includes information and online works J.M. Synge, Padraic Colum, W. B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, G. B.Shaw, and Oliver Goldsmith.
The International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures was founded in 1969 to promote the teaching and study of Irish literature in third-level education throughout the world, and to facilitate contact between scholars researching Irish literature. Of special note is information on their yearly scholarly conferences, a very good online newsletter, and an extensive list of links to further resources on literary topics and Irish studies.
The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Yeats in 1923, Shaw in 1925, Beckett in 1969 and Heaney in 1995. Visit the Nobel site for their biographies, acceptance speeches, and more.
CELT is a collection of online text documents related to Irish literature, history and politics. The texts can be searched, read on-screen, downloaded, and printed out. From 'The Annals of the Four Masters' to writings by Oscar Wilde, this University College Cork project is a wonderful resource.
On Reading Ancient Literature:The Text and the Context is an interesting essay by Michael Sundermeier that discusses the importance of cultural context and background in reading Irish literature.
Literary figures tend to have interesting graves. The intriguing is a collection of photos of the graves of all sorts of famous individuals... See the final resting places of Brendan Behan, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and many others.
Find out about upcoming workshops on all sorts of writing at The Irish Writers' Centre. Details of upcoming readings too, and a list of literary journals, links, information on competitions and an online newsletter.
Read new writing in issues of the Electric Acorn at the Dublin Writer's Workshop site.
Poetry Ireland is the place to go to find out about poetry readings, festivals, writing courses and new publications. There's also information on a rather intriguing service whereby tentatively established poets can send a selection of their work along to be evaluated, an advice section for those just starting out, and details on the Great Book of Ireland project of 1991. A very good resource.
Specially designed to help young people understand and enjoy Irish poetry, the Study Ireland: Poetry site from BBC Northern Ireland presents twelve poems by Irish authors (Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, Elaine Gaston, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, Eilish Martin, Paul Muldoon.) Audio files, suggestions for literary discussion, and comments from the poets themselves.
Maureen O'Brien is an enthusiastic exponent of Medieval Irish poetry who maintains a site featuring poetry in Irish with English translations.
Mary Mark Ockerbloom is collecting links to Internet resources on Irish women authors. The list of names she's complied is a useful resource, in and of itself...
The issue of copyright laws and the Internet is complicated. There are many sites where you can read online versions of Yeats poems or Shaw plays... but for the most part I am not including such sites individually. You may want to check the following for the works of particular authors:
Lyra Celtica is an extensive anthology of Celtic poetry originally published in 1896, and updated in 1932. Mary Ann Dobratz has made it available online... works range from Saint Columba through Douglas Hyde and Padraic Colum.
Sonnets from Ireland features many lesser-known poets. Some would, I believe, be almost downright obscure...
The Irish Book Review is an exciting new journal which focuses on high quality reviews of the best books published in Ireland and abroad. Reviewers for The Irish Book Review include leading journalists, academics, authors and others who provide their own lively interpretation and expert opinion on some of the key titles recently released.
The New York Times Books Section provides excellent book reviews, excerpts, forums, audio specials and more. You'll need to register the first time you visit the site, but it only takes a moment, and then you'll have access to their extensive archives.
The Atlantic Monthly is full of interesting literary articles, reviews and audio. You can search their archives to see what might be available...
'Authors on the Web' provides an Irish Author Roundtable interview with Liam Clancy, Eoin Colfer, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Máire B. de Paor, Maureen Dezell, Emma Donoghue, Randy Lee Eickhoff, Andrew M. Greeley, Mary E. Lyons, Morgan Llywelyn, Regina McBride, Malachy McCourt, Jamie O'Neill, Martin Roper, and Niall Williams...
Julia M. Wright provides a bibliography of Irish literature from 1789-1840
Members of the English department at The University of California, Santa Barbara, maintain an excellent web resource, The Samuel Beckett Endpage. It includes information on the Samuel Beckett Society, biographical material and photos, details on conferences, links, current and upcoming productions, bibliographies, etc. In short, a really comprehensive resource.
The Samuel Beckett On-Line Resources and Links Page is an interesting and extensive hodgepodge, well worth visiting if you want to do some serious Beckett browsing.
The Samuel Beckett Lecture Hall is an online bulletin board 'devoted to all contemplations, musings, and queries concerning Samuel Beckett.' For academics and the well-read.
Visit The New York Times on the Web to read their review of 'Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist' by Anthony Cronin. You will need to register at their site, but it only takes a moment, then you should be able to continue directly to this article. You'll also find links to a whole range of other interesting articles and play reviews from their archives, and a RealAudio clip of Billie Whitelaw describing what it was like to work with Beckett.
Information and links for contemporary poet Eavan Boland can be found at the Academy of American Poets. A RealAudio version of her reading 'That the Science of Cartography is Limited' is available at the W. W. Norton site. Have a listen.
The New York Times on the Web provides a September 1999 Roddy Doyle audio special in their Books Section... 52 minutes of RealAudio which includes readings from 'A Star Called Henry' and an interesting question and answer session. (You'll need to register the first time you use the site, but it only takes a moment.)
Here's a university site that looks at Dancing at Lughnasa... themes and ideas for papers, Friel biography, pictures from the film, bibliography and more...
The New York Times has a Seamus Heaney audio special which includes a collection of book reviews, articles and an audio clip. You'll need to register the first time you use the site, but it only takes a few seconds, then you should be able to continue on to this article.
PBS correspondent Elizabeth Farnsworth interviews author Seamus Heaney about his book, Beowolf, on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer (March 28, 2000).
An embarrassment of Joycean riches is available on the web. In fact, it's all a bit overwhelming. Where to start? The Brazen Head: a James Joyce Public House would be an excellent choice if you have a bit of time. A creative, inviting site with a very comfortable feel.
The James Joyce Centre on North Great George's Street in Dublin is run by members of the Joyce family...
Brandon Kershner's Portrait page is a great supplement to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It provides a good Joyce biography and lots of notes and criticism.
The James Joyce Summer School at University College Dublin...
The Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen, County Monaghan, provides a very interesting website which includes information on the poet, the new community literary resource centre devoted to his work, a virtual local tour of Kavanagh places and more. Nicely done.
You'll need to register at the site, but the New York Times on the Web provides a September 1999 Frank McCourt audio special which includes introductions and readings from both Angela's Ashes and 'Tis, as well as an audience question and answer session. Once you register you should be able to continue on directly to this article...
US television networks PBS and C-Span provide online transcripts of their interviews with Frank... some include RealAudio too.

• PBS: Elizabeth Farnsworth interview April 7, 1997
• PBS: Terence Smith interview 17 March, 1999

Tom and Evelyn Moore, who run an Irish B & B, have provided an online tour of The Limerick of Angela's Ashes.
'It has been said that growing up in Ireland one learns sin from the priests, Latin from the nuns, and passion from Edna O'Brien...' So begins an interesting April 2000 interview with O'Brien in Atlantic Unbound.
Witty, satirical Brian O'Nolan (Flann O'Brien) went by various names... here are excerpts of his work and some relevant articles.
Eric Mader provides Flann O'Brien: A Biographical Introduction.
Here's the 'Unofficial Liam O'Flaherty Homepage' which includes a brief biography, chronology of his life, and some excerpts from his novels and stories.
ERNIE O'MALLEY is a site with pages devoted to the arts and culture of the west of Ireland: Ernie O'Malley (1916 rebel).
Cary M. Mazer, University of Pennsylvania, provides an interesting biography of G. Bernard Shaw (it says he hated "George' and never used it.)
Many people don't realize the author of Dracula was Irish! Elizabeth Miller (Department of English, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada) maintains Dracula's Homepage, (hope that keeps her on his good side!) which provides information on Bram Stoker; the novel Dracula; the historical Dracula; the vampire in folklore, fiction, film, popular culture, and lots more.
Every classic piece of literature should have a site as nice as Gulliver's Travels. Lee Jaffe has created a wonderful resource which includes the full text with amplifying links, a timeline, dictionary, collection of Swift quotes, all sorts of relevant illustrations, and more. Another example of what can happen when intelligence and enthusiasm get together on the web. Highly recommended.
JOHN MILLINGTON SYNGE is a site with pages devoted to the arts and culture of the west of Ireland: J. M. Synge (Irish dramatist).
COLM TÓIBÍN provides lots of interviews, biographical information, writing excerpts and discussion...
Oscariana is unusual and interesting. Carefully selected bits of text from primary sources such as letters and transcripts are combined with appropriate images to lead us one page at a time through Oscar's life and times. A personal trail of artefacts which creates a sort of online window into Oscar's life...
In 1985 Niall Williams and Christine Breen moved from New York to a small cottage in the west of Ireland. Their popular book O Come Ye Back to Ireland was the story of their first year's adventures, and they've been living there and writing ever since...
An online exhibition Yeats: The Life & Works of William Butler Yeats at the National Library of Ireland...
The Yeats Society Sligo provides a poetry tour of Yeats' Sligo, information on their popular summer and winter schools, and background information on the poet, the poems and the Society.
There's more