Language Matters

Kathleen Stein Smith, Ph.D

An Exploration of the Irish Presence in the Published Record

“The Irish Presence in the Published Record: How Many, What, When

The island of Ireland, though geographically small, enjoys an outsized global profile. Manifestations of “Irishness” are found around the world in many guises and varying degrees of authenticity, from Irish pubs to Irish festivals; from iconic brands like Guinness and Waterford Crystal to green-hued Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations; from Irish folk bands to Irish dancing. According to Wikipedia, there are 20 towns and communities named Dublin in the United States,8 stretching across the country from California to North Carolina. A Dublin can also be found in Australia, Canada, and Belarus.9

Both historic and contemporary emigration patterns contribute to the diffusion, and global interest, in Irishness. The Irish diaspora, in its most expansive definition—everyone with Irish ancestors—is thought to number more than 100 million people.10 In the United States, more than 10 percent of the population claim Irish ancestry.11 The Irish diaspora, noted The Irish Times, “is a unique reservoir of goodwill, support, and ‘soft power.’”12 In 2014, the Republic of Ireland installed its first Minister for Diaspora Affairs, in recognition of the “special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share [Irish] cultural identity and heritage.”13

The global interest in Ireland and Irishness inspires curiosity about the Irish presence in world literature and other types of creative output.”

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