By Sara Brady, Fintan Walsh (eds.)
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Extra resources for Crossroads: Performance Studies and Irish Culture
Here paganism is suggested as the characters enact a spring fertility rite, carrying the efﬁgy of the Mother in a procession reminiscent of both St Brigid’s Day and the May Day or Bealtaine rituals. The staging of ritual is also Bernadette Sweeney 29 present in The Great Hunger in the use of church ceremony and an implied suppression of exuberance by the representative of the Catholic Church. The spring festival is confronted and controlled by The Priest in a way that suggests the confrontation of paganism and Christianity and the appropriation of rites and festivals by the Church.
3 Franz Fanon, ‘On National Culture,’ in Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, eds. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993), 36–52, 46. 4 Mummers dressed in straw costumes moved from house to house performing a ‘battle’ between two key ﬁgures, such as St George and St Patrick, or King James and King William, and the outcome of the play would be determined by the politics of each household or audience. Characters included a hero, a butcher, and two ‘fools’ or commentators, among others.
32 Performing Tradition 7 Kevin Danaher, The Year in Ireland: Irish Calendar Customs (Cork: Mercier Press, 1972), 257. 8 Alan Gailey, Irish Folk Drama (Cork: Mercier Press, 1969), 8. Cromwell would have featured here as English anti-Royalist invader of Ireland in 1649; this invasion included the infamous sieges of Drogheda and Wexford, said to have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Royalist supporters, Irish natives, and members of Catholic orders. Cromwell is, therefore, a contested ﬁgure in British and Irish histories of Ireland.