How has Celtic Mythology been used politically in Ireland throughout its history?
19th and 20th Century Ireland was politically turbulent. Were Ancient Celtic Myths used by any actors on the political stage in order to support their cause?
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Celtic religious traditions were a crucial part of the Irish opposition to England. These religious traditions were threefold: Irish Catholicism, Irish Christianity, and (pagan) Celtic mythology.
Roman Catholicism was, of course, the religion of the majority of Irish people during the 19th and 20th centuries; the Protestant ascendancy was regarded, correctly, as English (the United Church of English and Ireland, as the Anglican Church or Church of England was correctly termed in the 19th century) and Scottish (the Church of Scotland was Presbyterian). Irish Catholics (and Scottish Catholics) were often politically aligned with France and the Roman papacy contra England.
Celtic Christianity was the dominant form of Christianity in England until Rome sent Augustine of Canterbury (not to be confused with Augustine of Hippo) to England. The Synod of Whitby made uniform Roman observances rather than Celtic among Christians in England, severing the Christian religion from certain traditions that had linked it both with Celtic traditions and Eastern Christianity. One part of the 19th and 20th century revival of Irish nationalism has been a renewed interest in Celtic Christianity.
Finally, much of 19th century Irish nationalism took the form of revival of Celtic language and traditions. Yeats, for example, wrote many poems and plays about traditional Irish mythological figures. Flann O’Brien tried to synthesize modernist sensibilities and literary techniques with traditional Celtic myth. Lady Gregory collected Irish folk tales. Some of Synge’s writings are influenced by Celtic traditions.
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