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Title: Constructing Irishness : nationalism, archaeology and the historic built environment in an independent state
Author: Usher, R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 6939
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2014
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The accepted underlying principle held for the destruction of certain elements of architectural heritage in Ireland has been nationalism. The explicit manifestation of this was the destruction of Dublin’s Georgian architecture in the 1960s and 70s. Such architecture has been naturally associated with British imperialism: formal architecture represented the British Protestant upper classes, a division of society to which the native Catholic Irish did not apparently ascribe, or from which they were excluded. Assessments of value made by reactive amenity bodies such as the Irish Georgian Society did little to dispel the notion that formal architecture did not accord with Irishness, as such appraisals were being made by the elite. Additionally, independent Ireland was keen to emphasise a native Irish identity, based in the west, and reinforced by icons of tradition including thatched vernacular houses and rural living. Such identity was underpinned by the archaeological record: the pre-dominant cultural-historical theoretical approach and the invasion hypothesis reinforced distinctions between the various cultures entering the country by both the physical movements of people and the diffusion of culture. However, such assessments of value become untenable in the face of economic development, as demonstrated by the Hill of Tara and the M3 motorway debate. This research provides a nuanced appraisal of Ireland’s selection and neglect of certain aspects of its material culture by evaluating the fluid nature of ‘heritage’. This is achieved through a methodology which utilises archival material from the National Archives and Office of Public Works, assesses archaeological excavations and historic buildings through fieldwork and examines the politicisation of architectural destruction in the literature. The research concludes that assessments of heritage value need to be taken beyond simple selectivity based on the tenets of nationalism, and expedient factors need to be given more credibility when assessing how and why Irish material culture is protected. It also concludes that the material culture which embodies Irishness is most at risk.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available