Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Although known primarily as a poet, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (NEE GHON-ahl) has written three plays for children and edited several volumes, including Jumping off Shadows: Selected Contemporary Irish Poets (1995; with Greg Delanty). She published several very influential essays, including “Why I Choose to Write in Irish: The Corpse That Sits Up and Talks Back” (published in Selected Essays, 2005) which explains and defends her decision to write poetry only in the Irish language (Gaelic).


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill has developed a distinctive voice as a poet, provided a proto-feminist perspective on every aspect of life in Ireland, and made informative explorations of the cultural ramifications of the suppression of the Irish language. She also has made the interlinkage of language an appropriate focus for poets and contributed to the growing respect for creative translation that has drawn some of the most accomplished poets in the English language to her writing. She has won numerous awards for her work both in the United Kingdom and the United States, including the O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry (1988), the American Ireland Fund Literary Award (1991), and the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine (1996).


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Brown, Paul. “Masculine Religion, Feminine Spirituality: The Mythical Landscape in the Poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.” In Irish Studies: Geographies and Gender, edited by Marti D. Lee and Ed Madden. Newcastle, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008. Looks at how Ní Dhomhnaill uses myth in her poetry and creates a feminine sense of spirituality within the wider, masculine formal structures of religion.

Burke, Margaret Garry. “Framing Masculinity in the Poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 10, no. 4 (May, 2009): 85-94. A discussion of the ways in which Ní Dhomhnaill’s poetry undercuts traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity.

Eamon, Maher, ed. Liminal Borderlands in Irish Literature and Culture. New York: Peter Lang, 2008. This collection of essays examining liminality—a concern with borders and being in transition—contains three on Ní Dhomhnaill, looking at female identity, otherworldly figures, and translation issues.

Haberstroh, Patricia Boyle. “Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.” In Women Creating Women: Contemporary Irish Poets. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996. Analyzes Ní Dhomhnaill’s work through The Astrakhan Cloak, focusing on her portrayals of women, from mythic figures to ordinary women.

McGuckian, Medbh, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. “Comhrá: A Conversation Between Medbh McGuckian and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.” Southern Review 13, no. 3 (Summer, 1995): 581-614. McGuckian and Ní Dhomhnaill have an illuminating and engaging discussion about Irish literature and culture in an issue of The Southern Review devoted to Irish poetry. Laura O’Connor provides a foreword and afterword that contain valuable information.

Montague, John, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, and Paul Durcan. The Poet’s Chair: The First Nine Years of the Ireland Chair of Poetry. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2008. Collects the lectures delivered by Montague, Ní Dhomhnaill, and Durcan during their tenures as the Ireland Professor of Poetry. Contains a foreword by Seamus Heaney.

O’Connor, Mary. “Lashings of Mother Tongue: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s Anarchic Laughter.” In The Comic Tradition in Irish Woman Writers. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1996. An incisive consideration of the ways in which Ní Dhomhnaill has used humor, one of the most prominent traditions in Irish literature.

Ó Tuama, Seán. “’The Loving and Terrible Mother’ in the Early Poetry of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.” In Repossessions: Selected Essays on the Irish Literary Heritage. Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press, 1995. An informative discussion of the early poetry.