Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Here on Earth: a summary of the interview with David Monagan

Jean Ferraca’s “Here on Earth” interview with David Monagan discusses many facets of Irish culture, ranging from language, history, and politics to the present modernized Ireland. All of these issues are discussed through the views of the interviewer Jean Feraca herself, the author of ‘Jaywalking with the Irish’ and an American expat living in Ireland, and Tom McCarthy, an Irish poet and a native to Cork.

The interview begins with David Monagan’s descriptions of his life in the Irish-American part of Connecticut prior to becoming an expat in Ireland. In America, Monagan was surrounded by images of Irish culture, especially reading Joyce, Yates and his favorite Flann O’Brian, whose surrealistic, humorous and at the same time moving style represents Irish life for David. Love of Irish literature sparked his decision to study in Dublin in the early 1970s, after which he has been to Ireland on many occasions before moving there permanently with his family.

As a writer, Monagan finds it very stimulating to live in Ireland because he is constantly surrounded by poetic language. He enjoys the fact that even the most trivial conversations can flower with imagery. He believes that the Irish haven’t developed the gift of gab because of the oppression by the Brits in the past, as is believed by Jean Feraca, but that the poetic imagery of the Irish language has been around for millennia, possibly because of the romantic, misty, and rainy landscape.

Monagan can’t speak Gaelic, but he claims that the Irish language is very poetic. McCarthy agrees with him on that matter and further explains that there is great variation in the Irish language and that it varies from county to county. As an example, a song is played, called ‘Langer’, which is a typical Cork word. It is an insulting word but can be also used with affection. The Irish name the phenomenon where an insulting slang word is used with affection, "slagging".

The Irish culture has changed drastically in the past decade. The former secular country’s social life was highly dominated by the old tradition and the Catholic Church up to the 1970s, when Ireland was still fighting with poverty. Shortly afterwards Ireland started changing. Its population increased, it reached economic prosperity, and became modernized in the short time of only a decade. The Irish population has been coping with this rapid change with some difficulty, since the transformation from a rather poor condition to the economic boom and modernization had no ‘in between’ stage of industrialization.

Even though it’s become a modernized country, Ireland keeps many traditions such as several Catholic holidays and the country’s favorite sport, hurling. Two matches a year are of great importance to the Irish, almost equivalent to the American Super Bowl.

This interview gives listeners a good insight into the old and the new Ireland and its culture.

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