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The Arts Past and Present: Ireland: Track 8


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Do we use our buildings to declare who we are? How far does our heritage influence our collective identity? This insightful album reveals Ireland's shifting attitudes towards its cultural heritage. In 1922 when it broke free of British rule to become an independent nation state, the Irish nationalists abandoned high-profile buildings like Dublin Castle as it was symbolic of their British oppressors, and it fell into ruin. Yet they proudly restored older sites like Cashel and New Grange, which is even older than the pyramids, to emphasise an earlier romantic Irish past. In doing so they literally reconstructed their new identity through obliterating the memories they didn't want to keep and reinforcing those they did. Today, with the passing of time and after joining the EU, the neglected buildings no longer provoke associations with a painful colonial history. St Mary's Church is now appreciated as a bar as well as a work of art. Ireland has moved on, and now embraces all of its heritage. In the audio track, Anne Laurence, a History Professor at The Open University, elaborates on the issues addressed in the album. This material is drawn from The Open University course AA100 The arts past and present.

By: The OpenLearn Team (The Open University)

  • Duration 43 minutes
  • Updated Tuesday 9th February 2010

Track 8: Castletown House

Appreciating the stately home as a monument to Irish craftsmanship and acheivement.

Tracks in this podcast:

Track Title Description
1 The Arts Past and Present: Ireland A short introduction to this album. Play now The Arts Past and Present: Ireland
2 Attitudes to architectural heritage How Ireland's built heritage is being rapidly reshaped. Play now Attitudes to architectural heritage
3 Rebuilding after the rebellion How the new government abandoned certain buildings but chose to preserve others after the rebellion and the civil war. Play now Rebuilding after the rebellion
4 Ancient heritage How the Irish free state restored ancient sites to consciously reconnect with a more glorious past. Play now Ancient heritage
5 Nineteenth century romantic reinvention How nationalists were quick to see the power of cultural symbols for political ends. Play now Nineteenth century romantic reinvention
6 Cashel Castle, Tipperary The ancient monuments at Cashel provide a sense of a romantic past without oppressors. Play now Cashel Castle, Tipperary
7 The fate of country houses Why the big estates symbolised the old regime, and so were burned, stripped and redistributed. Play now The fate of country houses
8 Castletown House Appreciating the stately home as a monument to Irish craftsmanship and acheivement. Play now Castletown House
9 Changing attitudes to restoration St Mary's church becomes a trendy bar: how Ireland has moved on. Play now Changing attitudes to restoration
10 Unravelling the issues Anne Laurence, a History Professor at Open University, explains the significance of Ireland's built heritage to the reconstruction of its national identity. Play now Unravelling the issues
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