Reflections on Irish Writing in 2010

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As incoming editor of the Irish Studies reviews for this prestigious journal, I am more than grateful to Rosa Gonzalez and the editorial committee of Estudios Irlandeses for entrusting me with the task. It is with some trepidation that I take up in the footsteps of David Pierce, who in the previous issues fulfilled that role with distinction. I am indeed grateful for the tips which he supplied to me to carry out the task, and for the examples given through the previous issues. 2010 has turned out to be a very interesting year for me, a retired faculty member in English Studies/Irish Studies from the University of Limerick, and one of the longest-serving members of IASIL (International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures). At times, this reviews editorship involved a learning curve, which I hope will benefit readers of subsequent issues.

Over the years, I have had the double pleasure of becoming friends with many Spanish academics via IASIL, and also by acting as Erasmus Exchange teacher at the University of Alcala de Henares for short periods over five years. There they have a thriving Irish Studies section which is the area of research choice for many of their postgraduates. There was also the invaluable experience of hosting Spanish academics on return Erasmus exchanges to the University of Limerick. Both formally and informally I have had many animated discussions of various Irish authors and critics with Spanish professors. Over the years there has been cooperative work with academics in Spanish in my own former School, that of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication, at my home university. All of these combined gave me a huge respect for various approaches to Irish Literature in English emanating from Spain. In particular, I have had very interesting conversations and correspondence with Dr. Marisol Morales Ladron. Secondly, I have been in touch with another Spanish academic, Carolina Amador Moreno, about our mutual work in Irish-English (Hiberno-English) and the use of this dialect in Irish literature. Both her Analysis of Hiberno-English in the Early Novels of Patrick McGill (2006) and her second book An Introduction to Irish English (2010) will prove invaluable to any researcher interested in the subject. A reference to Dr. Amador's work would not be complete without sending sympathy to her and other friends of the late Dr. Anne McCarthy, which occurred very recently. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting her, it is clear that her death will be a great loss to Spanish research into Irish Studies.

The past year has seen devastating changes in Ireland's political life, its economy, and in its concomitant loss of some sovereignty in money matters. There were also other troubles such as volcanic ash preventing air flight, severe weather in December of both years, and massive emigration. All make 2010 a year to forget, and to look forward to 2011. However, not everything has been black. In the matter of literature, there have been great achievements, as seen by the following examples. Literary festivals have taken place and were adjudged as successful, for example, the Cuirt festival in Galway last April, which was opened by author Roddy Doyle. In spite of the aforesaid problems with flights due to volcanic ash, there were many great names in the world of books prepared to give readings from their works. Later in the same month, the sixth annual Heinrich Boll memorial weekend took place on his beloved Achill Island. Journals of Irish Studies have appeared as usual. So many conferences in Irish Studies have been held, in Ireland, in various European countries and in places much further away that it is impossible to name all. Books of original literature have won praise and awards. These include Emma Donoghue's Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Paul Murray's Skippy Dies, longlisted for the same award. In my home city, I have had the experience of going to buy copies of both, hearing other customers making the same request, and finding that both books were sold out, awaiting new supplies. …