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Cailleachs, Keens and Queens

Reconfiguring Gender and Nationality in the poetry of Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Eavan Boland

Helen Kidd

In Irish writing the house is a familiar metaphor for nation, psyche, and community. Haunted with unquiet ghosts, it is frequently depicted as symptom of colonial repression and control, invoking the Famine, dispossession, dislocation, partition; the list, as with all colonial abuses, goes on and on. Freud usefully makes the connection between the uncanny (unheimlich) and the homely (heimlich)2 indicating the secondary meaning of heimlich as covered, concealed. Once the silences and (long) sufferings of colonisation are out in the open, gender issues, and the institution of home supported by these, which also rests on naturalised cover-ups – these continue to unsettle the discourses of home, nation and history.

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Kathy Cremin, Marcella Edwards, Eibhlín Evans, Helen Kidd, Mary King, Richard Kirkland and Steven Matthews

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