Narrating the nation? : post-colonial perspectives on Patrick Kavanagh's 'The great hunger' (1942) and Brendan Kennelly's 'Cromwell' (1983)
The nature of Irish post-colonialism is not fixed. The chronological periods surrounding the colonial era in Irish history are relatively unproblematic, but the real debate emerges in the analysis of the effect of the colonial era on perceptions of national identity and how these perceptions were altered or underpinned in the post-colonial nation state. The complexities involved in accurately defining the coloniser and the colonised, the colonial identity and the post-colonial identity, serve to illuminate the fact that these concepts are based on interpretations of complex and unresolved relationships which have emerged over hundreds of years. To arrive prematurely at definitive conclusions as to their nature only serves to perpetuate stereotypes beyond which the post-colonial debate must move. The best that can be hoped for is that a reasonable and sustainable position can be found in relation to the larger question of Ireland's complicated post-colonial identity. The nature of Irish colonisation and its consequences require the examination of the plurality of possible interpretations. There are no fixed boundaries but rather a series of relational positions which must be occupied on the nature of possession and dispossession, cultural connectedness and dislocation and consequent perceptions of national identity.