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Irish Antigones: Burying the Colonial Symptom

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-21, 04:39 authored by Kelly Younger
The word “tragedy,” as Irish critic Shaun Richards points out, “is a term frequently used to describe the contemporary Northern Irish situation. It is applied both by newspaper headline writers trying to express the sense of futility and loss at the brutal extinction of individual lives and by commenta- tors attempting to convey a sense of the country and its history in more general terms.”1 Since identifying this particular use of the word, it has be- come clear that the Irish are not referring to tragedy in general, but to Greek tragedy in particular. For example, Deaglán de Bréadun writes in The Irish Times: “The whole community knows outright disaster was only narrowly averted at Drumcree last year [1996]. There is also a terrible creeping feeling that Drumcree Three will be upon us soon and that, like a Greek tragedy, this time disaster is inevitable.” Another article the following year, on Sinn Fein’s exclusion from the 1998 Peace Process, reported: “One long-distance peace processor lamented that today’s events were ‘like a Greek tragedy. You can see the end coming but you can’t do anything about it.’”


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