The Way They Never Were: Nationalism, Landscape, and Myth in Irish Identity Construction

Natalie Barber


The fairy figure has had a long association with Ireland in popular cultural discourse. While often the source of children's fairy tales, their history in Ireland is far from kitsch. Their enduring association with the Irish has been one of adaptation in the face of colonialism and is linked to the land itself as well as Irish identity. The Gaelic Revival and emerging field of archaeology in the nineteenth century pulled from a strong tradition of myth and storytelling to craft a narrative of authentic Irishness that could resist the English culturally and spiritually. This paper explores the relationship between nationalism, landscape, and mythology that created a space that the fairy survived in as a product of colonial resistance and identity.