Máirtín Ó Cadhain, widely regarded as one of the most remarkable Irish language writers of the twentieth century, agitated passionately on behalf of his Irish-language community and strongly criticized the newly formed Irish State for paying lip service to the preservation of Ireland’s traditional communities and native language while doing little in practical terms to halt their decimation. His discovery of Russian writer Maxim Gorky during a period of internment for subversive activities was a significant moment in his journey to developing his literary voice. This essay will argue that Ó Cadhain’s willingness to learn from his imaginative encounter with Gorky’s depictions of life among the Russian peasants allowed him to transcend the limitations of the gaze he inherited from his own literary tradition and imbue his seemingly simple depictions of life in the West of Ireland with a fervour and revolutionary anger that forces a revision of its marginalization as a consequence of economic and political policies.
Aoileann Ní Éigeartaigh
Dr Aoileann Ní Éigeartaigh is a Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural Studies in Dundalk Institute of Technology. She has published in the areas of Irish Literature, American Literature and Cultural Studies.