Are you talking to me?

Michael Pierse examines how the Irish working class have been represented in literature.


In his 1958 play The Hostage, Brendan Behan interestingly mixes the issue of class with post-colonial politics, suggesting how the Republic of Ireland had inherited much of the snobbery of its erstwhile colonial rulers. When Behan’s captive English soldier, Leslie, encounters the English-born but of Irish extraction IRA veteran Monsewer amongst his captors, their antagonism hinges on class rather than ethno-national enmities:

MONSEWER: Are you a cricketer, my boy?
SOLDIER: Yes, sir. Do you like a game?
MONSEWER: By Jove, yes.
SOLDIER: Mind you, I couldn’t get on
with it at the Boys’ Home. They
gave us two sets of stumps, you see,
and I’d always been used to one,
chalked up on the old wall at home.
MONSEWER: That’s not cricket, my boy.
SOLDIER: Now there you are, then.
You’re what I call a cricket person
and I’m what I call a soccer person.
That’s where your race lark comes in.

By mistaking class for race, Leslie’s retort suggests how the former is as important as the latter in this encounter. […]

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July/August 2017 (issue no.374) 

July Book Competition

Grace After Henry

by Eithne Shortall

Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the streets at the graveyard. Only Henry is dead...

'Moving, witty and well written. I loved it.' - Louise O'Neill

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Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall
ISBN: 9781786493873
Publisher: Corvus Books



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