Shelves: theatre , classics You can see my review over at The Literary Sisters as well. Written in and performed in April of the same year in Dublin, it is a play of great symbolic and historic significance for Ireland and the turbulent period it refers to. While having this conversation, sounds of war and battle reach their ears, but they pay no particular attention to them, with the exception of a brief comment. All of a sudden, an old and rather mysterious woman appears at their door asking for help. The old woman proves to be none other than Cathleen Ni Houlihan, a mythological figure in Irish folklore who is said to represent Ireland herself. Yeats is well known for his fascination by folklore and mythology and his deeply rooted nationalism as well.

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Cathleen ni Houlihan For centuries, drama in Ireland, like its people suffered from the colonization by England.

Although for most of its history Ireland had small theatres in its scattered towns and city Dublin, the plays and players were almost always English in origin or influence. The playwrights of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were London men who wrote about London subjects despite their Irish birth or up-bringing. In the nineteenth century the lovable, comical and patriotic "stage Irishman" emerged to charm audiences with his harmless buffoonery.

In April W. The debut was terrifyingly successful and its revolutionary message well-received by militants. In the years since Cathleen ni Houlihan has continued to be viewed as a battle-cry for the Irish republican movement and considered a sacred work. Constance Markievicz called the play a "gospel" from her cell shortly after the Irish Easter Rebellion.

The play was simple and very effective. Yeats sought to lift the audience as a whole out of their surroundings and transport them to a land of Irish myth and make-believe. Cathleen ni Houlihan is staged simply in a peasant family cottage. The author compared the small stage background to the background of a portrait.

The time is and there are rumours of a French invasion to aid the Irish peasant rebels rising against their English oppressors. The play immediately evokes the sense of past in present when the young man is called from his wedding preparations to a higher patriotic duty through the song of the Old Woman. Calling on young Peter Darcy to revolt, the Old Woman proclaims blood-sacrifice as the only means to redeem the nation. In return she promises that the heroes "shall be remembered for ever.

In a note to Lady Gregory in Yeats describes the mythical figure as " Ireland herself One function of Ireland-as-woman is to exonerate nationalism from any suspicion of aggression. There is a strong similarity between Cathleen ni Houlihan and Joan of Arc. As a suffering female, Ireland must always be the passive and virtuous victim of a British male bully.

Not surprising, the idea for the play came to Yeats in a dream. He writes in "One night I had a dream almost as distinct as a vision of a cottage where there was well-being and firelight and talk of a marriage, and into the midst of that cottage, there came an old woman in a long cloak. She was Ireland herself, that Cathleen ni Houlihan for whom so many stories have been told and for whose sake so many have gone to their death.

I thought if I could write this out as a little play I could make others see my dream as I had seen it We turned my dream into the little play Cathleen ni Houlihan. Questions should be directed to Ireland32 at: Ireland32 gmu.


Kathleen Ni Houlihan

Michael, one of the Gillane sons, is set to marry Delia Cahel the very next day. When the young man notices a mysterious Old Woman is approaching their family home, they invite her in, but not before clumsily hiding the bag filled with treasure. At first, Michael is distrustful and remains close to the door, while his parents welcome the feeble stranger with open arms. She speaks in an elevated and unearthly way, which contrasts with the traditional down-to-earth peasant dialect of the Gillane family. She recounts her tale of being evicted from her home, and how far she has travelled.


“Cathleen Ni Houlihan”

Scene: Interior of a cottage close to Killala, in Bridget is standing at a table undoing a parcel. Peter is sitting at one side of the fire, Patrick at the other. What is that sound I hear?

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