Remembering the Year of the French is a model of historical achievement, moving deftly between the study of historical events—the failed French invasion of the West of Ireland in 1798—and folkloric representationsof those events. Delving into the folk history found in Ireland’s rich oral traditions, Guy Beiner reveals alternate visions of the Irish past and brings into focus the vernacular histories, folk commemorative practices, and negotiations of memory that have gone largely unnoticed by historians.
Beiner analyzes hundreds of hitherto unstudied historical, literary, and ethnographic sources. Though his focus is on 1798, his work is also a comprehensive study of Irish folk history and grass-roots social memory in Ireland. Investigating how communities in the West of Ireland remembered, well into the mid-twentieth century, an episode in the late eighteenth century, this is a “history from below” that gives serious attention to the perspectives of those who have been previously ignored or discounted. Beiner brilliantly captures the stories, ceremonies, and other popular traditions through which local communities narrated, remembered, and commemorated the past. Demonstrating the unique value of folklore as a historical source, Remembering the Year of the French offers a fresh perspective on collective memory and modern Irish history.
Winner, Wayland Hand Competition for outstanding publication in folklore and history, American Folklore Society
Finalist, award for the best book published about or growing out of public history, National Council on Public History
Winner, Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Prize for the best study of folklore or folk life in Great Britain and Ireland
“An important and beautifully produced work. Guy Beiner here shows himself to be a historian of unusual talent.”—Marianne Elliott, Times Literary Supplement
“Thoroughly researched and scholarly. . . . Beiner’s work is full of empathy and sympathy for the human remains, memorials, and commemorations of past lives and the multiple ways in which they actually continue to live.”—Stiofán Ó Cadhla, Journal of British Studies
“A major contribution to Irish historiography.”—Maureen Murphy, Irish Literary Supplement
"A remarkable piece of scholarship . . . . Accessible, full of intriguing detail, and eminently teachable.”?—Ray Casman, New Hibernia Review
“The most important monograph on Irish history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to be published in recent years.”—Matthew Kelly, English Historical Review
“A strikingly ambitious work . . . . Elegantly constructed, lucidly written and inspired, and displaying an inexhaustible capacity for research”—Ciarán Brady, History IRELAND
“A closely argued, meticulously detailed and rich analysis . . . . providing such innovative treatment of a wide array of sources, his work will resonate with the concerns of many cultural and historical geographers working on social memory in quite different geographical settings and historical contexts.”—Yvonne Whelan, Journal of Historical Geography
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Guy Beiner is lecturer in history at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. He has been a research fellow at Trinity College Dublin and an NEH Keough Irish Studies Fellow at Notre Dame University, and he is the author of many articles on modern Irish history and memory.Review:
"A brilliant and original contribution not only to Irish history, reconstructing the view from below, but also to the study of social memory.”—Peter Burke, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge
"A painstaking and pathbreaking study. . . . Through the lens of 1798 in the West of Ireland, it focuses on the dynamic interface between vernacular and official versions of history."—Kevin Whelan, Keough–Notre Dame Center, Dublin
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