Robert Welch


1947-2013 [Robert Anthony Welch]; b. 25 Nov., Cork; son of a Dunlop factory worker in Cork; ed. Coláiste Críost Rí and UCC (Irish, English & Music); completed MA at UCC under Seán Lucy, and a PhD at Univ. of Leeds under Derry Jeffares, working on “Gaelic Tradition and Irish Poetry in English” - later issued as A History of Verse Translation from the Irish (1988); m. Angela [née O’Riordan], with whom four children, Rachel, Killian, Egan and Tiernan; appt. to lectureship in English, Leeds, 1971-73, 1974-84, teaching in Nigeria at Ile-Ife University in the interim; appt. to Chair of English at Univ. of Ulster, 1984, and served as Head of School of English, Theatre & Media Studies - latterly English & Media Studies; afterwards appt. Dean of Arts for two terms up to 2009; issued Muskerry (1991), poetry; issues Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (1993), critical essays; ed. Folklore writings of W. B. Yeats (1993); also served as President of IASIL, 1990-93;
ed., The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (1996); appt. member of Arts Council of Northern Ireland, 1996, and afterwards Vice-Chairman; issues The Kilcolman Notebook (1993), a novel on Spenser in Ireland, and Groundwork (1997), a novel examining the experience of Irish families in key periods of colonial history, selected among “Notable Books” of 1998 (NY Times Book Review); issues Tearmann (1997), a detective novel in Irish; issues Blue Formica Table (1999), a poem-sequence; issues The Abbey Theatre, 1899-1999 (1999); appt. Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Univ. of Ulster, 2000; estab. Academy of Irish Cultural Heritages (AICH), 2001; awarded Snr. Distinguished Research Fellowship (UU) for ‘expertise in field of interaction betweeen Gaelic and Celtic traditions and writing in English’, Dec. 2003;
Protestants, a one-man play, premiered by Ransom Prods. at Old Museum Arts Centre (Belfast) and staged at Traverse Th. (Edinburgh), Soho Th. (London) and St. Andrew’s Lane (Dublin), to good reviews, April-Aug. 2004; appt. Dean of Arts, Univ. of Ulster, 2002; re-appointed, 2005; participated in Munster Literature Centre translation project, with a volume on Dana Prodracka, 2005; issued The Evergreen Road (2006); suffered tragic death of his son Egan by drowning, Jan. 1997 - the subject of a forthcoming memoir (Kicking Back the Mamba, 2012); elected MRIA, May 2008; received O'Connor Literary Award at Gerald Manley Hopkins Summerr School, Monasterevin, Co. Kildare, 2009; issued Constanza (2010), a new collection including poems based on Ovid in Tomos and several informed by grief for the death of his son Egan; winner of Oireachtas Prize for Criticism, 2003;
suffered cancer of the liver; retired from Univ. of Ulster, 2009 [emeritus]; issued Kicking the Black Mamba - Life, Alcohol Death (2012), a memoir of his son Egan - launched at the University of Ulster, 25th Sept., and afterwards at the Royal Irish Academy (Dublin), 26th Sept. 2012; d., of cancer, 3 Feb. 2013; survived by his wife Angela and children Rachel, Killian, and Tiernan; his dg. Rachel O’Riordan, a grad. of the Royal Ballet School, is Artistic Director of Ransom, and formerly of Kaboosh; she lectures in Drama at QUB. OCIL DIL2

Academic C.V.
Robert Welch is a literary historian, poet, and novelist. He is Professor of English and was previously Head of the School of English, Media and Theatre Studies. He lectured at Leeds University, University College, Cork, and at Ile-Ife University, Nigeria. He was a Visiting Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford; the Jefferson-Smurfit Fellow at the University of Missouri, St Louis; and the Dal Grauer Lecturer at the University of British Columbia. He is a Fellow of the English Association and is on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal for Irish Studies. He is a past President of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures.
See Ulster University Annual Report (2006-07), Staff Biographies - online.

[ See also Robert A. Welch page at Wikipedia - online; accessed 11.09.2011; an obituary by Andrew Hadfield appeared in The Guardian (1 March 2013) - online. ]

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  • ‘Memoirs of a Kerry Parson [Stephen Hilliard]’, in Etudes Irlandaises, III (1978), pp.15-18;
  • Muskerry (Dublin: Dedalus 1991), 51pp.;
  • Secret Societies (Dublin: Dedalus 1997), 88pp.;
  • Blue Formica Table (Dublin: Dedalus 1999), 95pp.;
  • The Evergreen Road (Belfast: Lagan Press 2006), 96pp.
  • Constanza (Belfast: Lagan Press 2010), 85pp.
  • The Kilcolman Notebook (Dingle: Brandon Books 1993), 128pp.;
  • Tearmann ( Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim 1997), 113pp.;
  • Groundwork (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1997), 210pp. [Dufour Edns. 1997, 202pp.]
  • Protestants (Belfast: Lagan Press 2006), 79pp. [with add. remarks by the author, Rachel O’Riordan and and selected notices incl. one by Michael Portillo].
  • Kicking the Black Mamba: Life, Alcohol Death ([UK:] Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd. 2012), 224pp.
  • A History of Verse Translation from the Irish (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1988), 200pp.;
  • Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats [Irish Lit. Studies, No. 5] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), 248pp.;
  • Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993), 320pp. [see details];
  • The Abbey Theatre 1899-1999: Form and Pressure (OUP 1999), 280pp. [ded. for Shivaun O’Casey and in memory of Tomas Ó Murchadha and Liam Lynch];
  • The Structure of Process: John Montague’s Poetry (Coleraine: Cranagh 1999), 17pp. [pamph.]
  • The Cold of May Day Monday: An Approach to Irish Literary History (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2014), q.pp. [see details].
Scholarly editions
  • ed, W. B. Yeats, Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1993), 494pp.
Edited collections
  • ed., The Way Back: George Moore’s “The Untilled Field” & “The Lake” [Appraisal: Irish and English Literature in Context, No. 1] (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1982), 140pp.;
  • ed., with Suheil Badi Bushrui, Literature and the Art of Creation (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe; N.J.: Barnes & Noble 1988), ix, 323pp.;
  • ed., Irish Writers and Religion [Irish Literary Studies, 37; IASIL-Japan, 4] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), xiii, 242pp. [see details].
  • George Orwell: Animal Farm [York Notes] (Harlow: Longman 1980, 1983, 1987), 64pp.;
  • Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queen, Book 1 [York Notes] (Harlow: Longman 1985), 80pp.;
  • A Little Book of Irish Myths (Belfast: Appletree Press [1996]), ill. Sara Walker, 60pp.;
  • ed., with Greg Delanty, New and Selected Poems of Patrick Galvin (Cork UP 1996), 154pp.;
  • Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof [York Notes] (Harlow: Longman 1996) 59pp.;
  • ed. The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, asst. ed. Bruce Stewart (Oxford: OUP 1996), xxv, 614pp.;
  • ed. , Concise Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (Oxford: OUP 2000), 393pp.
Contributions [selected]
  • ‘The Loutishness of Learning: The Presence of Writing’, in Writing Ulster, Nos. 2 & 3 (1991 / 92), pp.58-71;
  • ‘Some aspects of the Culture of Anglo-Irish Romanticism’, in Gael, VIII (1986), pp.27-38;
  • ‘Yeats, Myth and History’, in Gael, VIII (1986), pp.91-101;
    ‘Irish writing in English’, [Unit. 25] in Introduction English Studies, ed. Richard Bradford (London: Pearson Educ. 1996), pp.657-70;
  • ‘A Rich young man leaving everything he had: Poetic Freedom in Seamus Heaney&146; in Seamus Heaney: A Collection of Critical Essays (London: Macmillan Press 1992), cp.150.
  • ‘Translation as Tribute’, in Poetry Ireland Review/Éigse Eireann, 34 (1992), pp.125-29.
  • extract from Groundwork [novel], in Krino (Summer 1996), [q.p.];
  • ‘Sacrament and Significance: Some Reflections on Religion and the Irish’, in Religion and Literature, [Irish Issue; ed., Willa Murphy] (Summer 1998), q.pp.

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Bibliographical details
Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993), 307pp. Preface [ix]; Acknowledgements [xii]; Change and Stasis in Irish Writing [1]; Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century [11]; George Moore: ‘The Law of Change is the Law of Life’ [35]; W. B. Yeats: ‘The Wheel Where the World is Butterfly’ [55]; J. M. Synge: Transfigured Realism [80]; Joyce Cary: ‘Wondering at Difference’ [119]; Francis Stuart: ‘WE are all One Flesh’ [138]; Samuel Beckett: ‘Matrix of Surds’ [162]; Máirtín Ó Cadhain: ‘Repossessing Ireland’ [187]; Seán Ó Riordáin: ‘Renewing the Basic Pattern’ [204]; Brian Friel: ‘Isn’t this Your Job to Translate?’ [224]; Movement and Authority: ‘Suddenly You’re Through’ [270]; Coda: Seers and Dancers [285]; Notes, 290; Index, 304. (See under “Quotations”, infra.]

The Abbey Theatre, 1899-1999 (OUP 1999), Contents: 1. 1899-1902: ‘Four green fields’ [1] 2. 1902-1910: ‘Screeching in a straightened waistcoat’ [18] 3. 1911-1925: ‘O Alsalom, my son’ [58] 4. 1926-1951: ‘The birth of a nation is no immaculate conception’ [98] 5. 1951-1966: ‘I remember everything’ [155] 6. 1966-1985: ‘History, is personal’ [178] 7. 1985- 1999: ‘The dead are not past, the dead are the future’ [212] 8. Conclusion [245] Epilogue [251] Notes [252] Bibliography [263] Index [269]. For whole-text version [.pdf], see Questia [online]; see also cover-image in Ricorso Galleries [unavailable].

Irish Writers and Religion, ed. by Robert Welch [Irish Literary Studies: 37; IASIL-Japan ser. 4] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992), xiii, 242pp. [ded. “In memory of Babara Hayley”; CONTENTS: Robert Welch, Introduction [ix-xiii]; Séamus MacMathúna, ‘Paganism and Society in Early Ireland’ [11]; Joseph McMinn, ‘Literature and Religion in Eighteenth-century Ireland: A Critical Survey’ [15]; Barbara Hayley, ‘Religion and Society in Nineteenth-century Irish Fiction’ [32]; Dáithí Ó hÓgáin, ‘The Word, The Lore, and the Spirit: Folk Religion and the Supernatural in Modern Irish Literature’ [43]; Peter Denman, ‘Ghosts in Anglo-Irish Literature’ [62], A. M. Gibbs, ‘Shaw and Creative Evolution’ [75]; Ruth Fleischmann, ‘Catholicism in the Culutre of the New Ireland: Canon Sheehan and Daniel Corkery’ [89]; Mitsuko Ohno, ‘Yeats and Religion’ [105]; Eamon Hughes, ‘Joyce and Catholicism’ [116]; Anne McCartney, ‘Francis Sstuart and Religion: Sharing the Leper’s Lair’ [138]; Alan Peacock, ‘Received Religion and Secular Vision: MacNeice and Kavanagh’ [148]; Lance St John Butler, ‘A Mythology with Which I am Perfectly Familiar: Samuel Beckett and the Absence of God’ [169]; Patrick Rafroidi, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress: On the Poetry of Desmond Egan and Others’ [185]; Desmond Egan, ‘Religion?’ [190]; Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, ‘Mis an Dubh Ruis: a Parable of Psychic Transformation’ [194]; Notes [203]; Notes on Contributors [232]; index. Bibl. pp.203-31; Index [235]. Preview available at Google Books - online.

The Cold of May Day Monday, by Robert Anthony Welch (Oxford UP 2014), CONTENTS: Introduction; I. Ancient Things; II. Iron Age Martial Arts And Christian Scribes; III. Reciting From The Finger Ends: The Bards And Ossian; IV. The Undoing Of Ireland: Conquest And Reconquest; V. The Colony; VI. Romantic Ireland?; VII. The Folk Tradition; VIII. Famine; IX. New Departures; X. The West's Awake; XI. Hearts Of Stone; XII. Matrix Of Surds; XIII. Astrakhan Ataraxie; XIV. Coda: By The Bog Of Cats; XV. Conclusion; A Bibliography Of Literary Histories And Related Works. A Note On The Author. Description: The Cold of May Day Monday offers an indvidual view of the history of Irish literature from its very earliest phases up to the present day, more or less, with discussions of major writers such as Friel, Heaney, Derek Mahon, McGahern, and John Banville. Robert Welch traces the roots of Irish literature in myth and legend and explores ancient and pre-Celtic deposits and remembrances; saga literature, as well as devotional writing; the bardic heritage and the cycles of tales of early Ireland; the importance and survival of folklore; and the later phases of Irish literature, from the seventeenth century onwards. Welch frames his study around themes and clusters rather than chronology, seeking to retain coherence by means of a sustained attention to the thematic strains. Substantial attention is paid to the figure of the Hag in Irish literary culture. The often deeply troubled relations between Ireland and England inevitably call for treatment as well, most notably in chapters examining the Great Famine and its consequences for literature and cultural expression. Yeats is one of the key figures, as are O'Casey and Synge, but the focus is on their literary output, not their political experiences (though these are not overlooked).Robert Welch offers a readable account of one of a fascinating literary history, providing insights into the connections between Irish legend and literature, and accounts of the some of the best Irish writers of the twentieth century. [OUP online].

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David Gardner, ‘A View of Elizabeths’ Ireland(s): Robert Welch’s The Kilcolman Notebook (1994)’, in Notes on Modern Irish Literature, 10 (1998), pp.4-17; James McAuley, ‘Giving image pride of place’, review of The Evergreen Road [with poetry of Tom Mac Intyre, Kerry Hardie and Paul Perry], in The Irish Times (16 Dec. 2006), Weekend [infra].

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Mary Helen Thuente, ‘The Literary Significance of the United Irishmen’, [in] Irish Literature and Culture, ed. Michael Kenneally (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1992): ‘Indeed, as Robert Welch observed, but did not elaborate upon, in his discussion of the Belfast backgrounds of Samuel Ferguson in Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats (1980): “In late eighteenth-century Belfast, there was a strong connection between the tradition of Protestant Dissent, the radical republicanism of Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen, and Gaelic song and culture” (Welch, op. cit., p.123). That connection has yet to be explored in detail.’ (p.39.) Note: Thuente goes on, ‘he seriously underestimates their interest in traditional music.’ (Ibid., p.43).

the wet centre ...
‘It is not possible to strike into the centre by preoccupations which take you off out into the circumference, blethering away about Fionn and Fenians, the wet weather of the West, lost heroes, lost heifers, while all the time the centre remains unvisited, unsaid.’ (‘“A Rich Young Man Leaving Everything He Had”: Poetic Freedom in Seamus Heaney’, in Seamus Heaney: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Elmer Andrews, London: Macmillan Press 1992, p.150.

Andrew Hadfield, ‘The Trial of Jove: Spenser’s Allegory and the Mastery of the Irish’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, 2, 2 (Spring / Summer 1996), pp.39-53, contains remarks as to the historical authenticity of The Kilcolman Notebook: ‘Welch’s comment on colonial domination is powerful rather than subtle and his graphic pornographic descriptions run the risk of recreat[ing] the imperial gaze - the look that seeks to dominate, subjugate and colonize’. ‘It is certainly arguable that Spenser’s own exploration of power, gender and colonial identity is far more complicated than that portrayed in The Kilcolman Notebook, a question that Spenser ultimately relates to the very possibility of representation and allegory.’ (p.40; et vide passim.) Hadfield notes that the novel ends with a bizarre dream in which he kills a hermaphrodite and argues with a woman who turns into a naked, tumescent Walter Raleigh. Quotes a conversation colonists’ overheard by Spenser on shipboard regarding parallels between Irish and African colonial experience: ‘we master our Irishness by mastering the Irish. Life is all the same. We master our blackness my mastering black Africa. There is no other way.’ (Ibid., p.108.) [Cont.]

Andrew Hadfield (‘The Trial of Jove […; &c.]’, in Bullán, 1996) - cont.: In a footnote Hadfield raises the question whether the speakers are ‘really overheard by Spenser or part of his imaginative engagement with Ireland.’ (n. 3, p.50); shows reservations about the risk of recreating ‘the imperial gaze that seeks to dominate, subjugate and colonise’ (quoting Kate Chedgzoky, ‘Moralising the Colonial Body: Discourses of Difference in Early Modern Writing’, Language and Discourse, 1, 1993, pp.23-43.) Hadfield points out that the constant fear of English migrants to Ireland from Gerald of Wales [Cambrensis] onwards was that Ireland would master them rather than they it - i.e., that they would ‘degenerate’ (here p.41). Further, Spenser’s View ‘appears to endorse the desirability of the gendered dichotomies outlined above and place Ireland as a transgressive geographical space with the potential to overturn hierarchical certainties’ (p.43).

John Dunne, review of Groundwork (1997), in Books Ireland (Dec. 1997), p.333: ‘If it’s good fiction you’re after, this is the real thing’.

Danny Morrison, reviewing of Groundwork, in Magill ([q.iss.] 1997), writes: ‘Fiction, amongst its other functions, can empower through its actors the anonymous victims of the great and greedy. […] Written in taut prose, each short chapter focuses on a character and his or her times in Munster […] the backbone of the novel is the story until 1955 of three generations of a Condon family […] Welch implies, quite subtly, that it all works like a genetic booby-trap, and that those the past most dumps on are women, be they the chattels of the victor or the vanquished.’ (p.49).

Peter S. Prescott, review of Groundwork in NY Times Book Review (7 June 1998), quotes: ‘There’s not a man yet that’s worthy of a woman’; ‘the woman’s ‘rowdiness and spunk’; the man’s ‘poverty, his ineffectuality, his totally false bravado, and the miserable assumptions of certainty he’d make’; at the centre of Groundwork he has placed a seventeenth century scholar [Keating] who muses over the lies of history, ‘how it is that falsehood leads to tyranny and the imprisonment of the conscience.’ Further, Keating depicts ‘the pain and chagrin of event’ in Irish history; remarks that Welch succeeds brilliantly in dramatising 4 centuries of history in a lapidary novel with 22 characters and short chapters leaping among the decades, the centuries’ Reviewer notes: I tried to reconstruct Groundwork in my mind, running the chapters sequentially. It won’t work. The result would have been an attenuated novel as well as a short one.’

Kevin Kiely, ‘Signifying Something’, review of The Abbey theatre 1899-1999: Form and Pressure, in Books Ireland (March 2000), pp.62-63: ‘[T]here is a magnificence about the pacing of Welch’s text […] Welch doesn’t shrink from the linguistic complications involved in the evolution of a bi-lingual National theatre, where Yeats had the wit to choose the actors “who would be less likely to pronounce ‘Caoilte’ as ‘Wheelchair’.” (p.62)

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Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures (Cork UP 1996), quotes: ‘All legitimate intellectual enquiry is translation […] reveals itself more completely than ever before’ [as supra], and remarks: ‘In the Irish context, translation is not simply a historic fatality resulting from massive laguange shift in the nineteenth century, but is vital in freeing the culture from obsessive concerns with continuity and purity. […] Translation is both the product and champion of discontinuity. If the condition of Ireland is the condition of modernity - discontinuity, fragmentation, self-doubt - then it is only to be expected that translation will emerge as a dominant feature of contemporary Irish literature.’ (p.168; see further quotations, infra.)

Naomi Doak [on the language-thesis of Changing States, 1993]: ‘Robert Welch says that to speak of tradition in the nineteenth century is to speak of an absence due to the death of [the] Gaelic language and culture and the assimilation or imposition (depending on your opinion) of the English language of the coloniser at that time. Welch asserts that the strategy of writers - not just Moore - in the nineteenth century was to invent many “Irelands” as possible, because there was no Ireland, no unified language, no continuity, no national assembly or system of imagery in which a community could take pleasure in the common transactions and experiences of the quotidian.’ (MADip. Essay, 2002-03; ref. to Welch, Changing States: Transformation in Modern Irish Writing, Routledge 1993, p.11.)

James McAuley, review of The Evergreen Road [with other poets], in The Irish Times (16 Dec. 2006), Weekend: ‘[… Welch] is adept at shaping experience into lyrical and narrative forms, alert to the value of sharp focus and tonal moderation: “The well has lain unused / for weeks, and the red ore / leached from the peat / has stained the water, / now harsh with the tang of iron …” The content ranges from this type of neo-pastoral imagism to the personal lyric; from the adaptation of a passage from the Aeneid of Virgil in rollicking hexameters to “The Heat”, a loss-of-innocence poem in panting dimeters. Several poems address or are dedicated to other poets, reflecting fellowship rather than the usual bunkum of literary rivalry. His readers are carried along by the cadences of common speech, the quiet irony, and the unfolding narrative. This “academic” poet is associated more with Adrigole and Leamagawra than the groves of Academe.’ (See full text, infra.)

Eamon Kelly, review of Protestants, in Books Ireland (Sept. 2007), p.180: ‘[…] a one-man show that seeks to gain the perspective of the Protestant viewpoint during the early days of the peace process. Robert Welch, himself a Catholic, admits in a preface that the impulse to write such a piece was the height of temerity. The play, arising from a conversation with a Protestant, is concerned more with the history of Protestantism as dissent, from the Reformation onwards, in order to create a context of understanding present-day attitudes, rather than being a tract concerned specifically with Northern Protestantism. An engraving by William Blake, “The Traveller Makes Haste” was incorporated by Welch as a unifying thread to take the narrator through the history of Protestantism, from Martin Luther and Queen Elizabeth I; to a soldier in Cromwell’s army and a snake charmer in the Southern states of the USA. To encompass this wide range of historical and geographical touchstones the play is, perhaps necessarily, experimental in form. It concludes with the narrator finally, poetically and perhaps controversially defining Protestantism as a dissent against stories. I am free when I am free of what people want to tell me. All stories are lies. I protest against all stories. All. I protest. A Protestant.” [… &c.]’

Nicholas Allen, review of The Cold of May Day Monday (2014), in The Irish Times (10 Jan. 2015): Welch is brilliant on Thomas Moore’s Lallah Rookh as a “poem that proclaims its freedom even as it rehearses the wrongs that rivet chains into the mind”. [...] Welch is very good on Oscar Wilde’s extravagantly gifted family. One of the little treasures of The Cold of May Day Monday is a pamphlet by Lady Jane Wilde (the “Speranza” of the Nation), called the American Irish. In it she advocated the unlikely, but entertaining, return of the diaspora to annex Ireland for the United States. Lady Wilde lamented the waste of national energy on a centuries-old struggle with England. In so doing she provided a formula for Irish rebellion: “Disaffection,” she wrote, “is not an evil where wrongs exist, it is the lever of progress.” Here, as occasionally elsewhere in the book, is a glimpse of how the Ireland of the past was more daring than its counterpart in the present. / The subtle achievement of The Cold of May Day Monday is the weave of history and culture into a patchwork of such bright and unpredictable colour that it is hard to credit it to so small a place, so intensely felt. / Welch draws vivid lines between art, language and the individual’s understanding of their time. If there is one unshifting co-ordinate through the book it is the idea of place, which Welch returns to over and again as a central trope of all Irish writing. [...] The Cold of May Day Monday flows boldly through the troubled stream of Irish literature. A major achievement of scholarship and narrative, it is that rare book that hears wild laughter in the archives of a troubled island.’ (Available online; accessed 05.08.2017.)

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Full-text copies held in Ricorso Library, “Critical Classics
  • ‘Language and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century’ [being Chap. 2], in Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993), infra.
  • 2 ‘Irish writing in English’, [Unit. 25] in Introduction English Studies, ed. Richard Bradford (London: Pearson Educ. 1996), pp.657-70, infra.
Robert Welch’s critical comments on numerous authors - incl. Edmund Spenser, Samuel Ferguson, J. J. Callanan, Thomas Moore, W. B. Yeats and James Joyce - are copied under Authors-AZ in RICORSO. See also extracts from various intermediate sources [as attached].

The Kilcolman Notebook (1993): [A colonist is overheard by Spenser on shipboard at Cork: ‘Yes; we master our Irishness by mastering the Irish. Life is all the same. We master our blackness my mastering black Africa. There is no other way.’ (p.108). ‘I wept in my room, aromatic with the scent of resin, for myself and for Christ. And, shockingly, searingly, for Ireland. My country. My home. My people in their rags and dirt and filth. Their bad teeth and stinking breath; their ludicrous speech; their hopelessness. There was a relief in crying. A curious peace settled in my mind. I was now a native, even though I could never be accepted.’ (p.109.) Hadfield notes that the novel ends with Spenser having a bizarre dream in which he kills a hermaphrodite and argues with a woman who turns into a naked, tumescent Walter Raleigh, further quoting, There is release … Coherence does present itself. There is joy. Give that up and we give everything up. All possibility of loving, even of action. The meanest movement springs from the certainty that all resides in joy.’ (Ibid., p.127; the foregoing all quoted in Andrew Hadfield, ‘The Trial of Jove: Spenser’s Allegory and the Mastery of the Irish’, Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Spring/Summer 1996, pp.39-53 [supra].)[ top ]

A History of Verse Translation from Moore to Yeats (1988): ‘Each language is of inestimable value because it is the expression of the soil, or essence, or spirit, of a people or a nation.’ (p.4; quoted in Tim O’Flaherty, UUC UG Essay, 1999).

Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (London: Routledge 1993), Preface: ‘Life shows itself as being a concrete and actual reality in its ability to transform its very self by means of what we call translation. / In certain culture, Irish amongst them, translation is a crucial activity. There are obvious reasons for this, in that before the nineteenth century to speak of Irish culture is to speak of a different language and entirely different way of seeing. Irish culture, for two hundred years, has, in this very obvious sense, been in the business of translating itself to itself and to the outside world. It has, of course, been remarkably successful in accomplishing this act of communication. But also, in Ireland, historical narratives, stories, legends, the past, have a tendency to become objects of Castenada’s “obsessive concern”; so that translation, in the broader sense of freeing those narratives from the lock of fixed idea and petrifications of ego, becomes necessary, not just from time to time, but continually. Ireland, like some other countries, is continually in need of transformation precisely because it is so traditional. Irish people, it may be said, are amongst those who are, at one and the same time, deeply archaic and immediately contemporary. (p.xi [end].)

Changing States (1993) - cont.: ‘From Kinsale to the end of the nineteenth century one cannot say that there was such a thing as “Irish life and thought”: there was English life and thought which sometimes accommodated an Irish accent for added vitality. Ireland, cut off from Europe, mastered by Britain, was not in a position to evolve modern forms of life which would develop from the pre-existent forms, patterns, social organisations and emotional predispositions that were there in Gaelic Ireland.’ (p.2; quoted in Una Kealy, “George Fitzmaurice” [PhD] UU 2004, p.68; also [verbatim] in Susan Parlour, ‘Vixens and Virgins in the Nineteenth-century Anglo-Irish Novel’: MA Diss., UUC 2008.)

Changing States (1993) - cont.: ‘All legitimate intellectual enquiry is translation of one kind or another: it takes a text, a phase of history, an event, an instant of recognition, and proceeds to understand it by reliving it in the process of re-creating it. In so doing it renews the unpredictability of the event or text by subjecting it once again to the challenges and opportunities of contingency. The thing is lived again, and it re-enacts its completeness in a new context. There is a state of change, but the thing in the course of the re-enactment, reveals itself more completely than before.’ (Quoted in Michael Cronin, Translating Ireland: Translations, Languages, Cultures, Cork UP 1996, p.168, with comments, as supra.)

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Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth [by] W. B. Yeats (1993), pp.xix-xx: ‘For a variety of reasons, including political ones, the Anglo-Irish were intrigued by the supernatural, fairies, and the afterlife. Up to a point this interest sprang from a curiosity about [xix] the imaginative life of a subject class growing less disadvantaged with increasing modernisation; but tales of ghosts, hauntings, and fairies, provided the Anglo-Irish with a imagery that reflected their own sense of insecurity and baffled unease.’

The Abbey Theatre (OUP 1999), on Thomas Kilroy: ‘Kilroy’s plays bristle with implications relating to sexuality, sexual politics, gender, cultural and political amnesia, and the inherited attitudes that determine the forms of government and society we create for ourselves. This play about Wilde [The Secret Fall … &c. ] is a visitation into the psyche of an Ireland at the end of the 1990s, in wihc many of the forms that protected and imprisoned Irish people were breaking up, not least among which was that form of radical separation of the different lives of the country evident in the line drawn across the province of Ulster, the border. The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde is a play about transgressions and transgressors, about the legitimacy (or not) of crossing those borders proscribed to us. Profoundly alert to psychology and personal hurt and obsession, it is also intensely political in its inferences, all the more so for holding those implications well in reserve.’ (p.233.)

The Abbey Theatre (OUP 1999) - OUP website: Welch recounts the experience of taking on and then researching his book on the Abbey Theatre amind 636 itemson the National Library of Ireland catalogue: ‘[…] There were many delights and shocks. But none more so when, in the National Library of Ireland, I first pressed the search-key for the Abbey and 636 items came up. One item could comprise 2000 or more separate documents. But I jumped in and got stuck into the archives: minutes, cuttings, letters, manuscripts, prompt copies of plays. Imagine my delight and stark grief when I came across the director’s prompt-copy of a play called Soldier by Liam Lynch, directed by Tomás Ó Murchadha in 1967. Both of them dead, both of them close friends, the latter the closest friend of my youth. / To write a history of the Abbey is to look for trouble, in a sense. Because the Abbey is so much a part of Irish life that it is loved and reviled in equal measure. Therefore its would-be historian is in danger of annoying everyone. Previous histories are, it should be said, completely out of date; and, in some cases, daft. None chart anything like a complete picture. I am only too conscious of the gaps I’ve left, but this is the first attempt to narrate the theatre’s history while also trying to keep an eye on its crucial activity; the plays themselves, what they mean, how they function, how they relate to Irish society.’ Subtitle, from Hamlet, ‘[i]mplying focus, energy, tension, emotion, shape, and the actual physical bodies of the actors, without whom there is no theatre.’ [End.] (OUP [online].)

The Abbey Theatre (1999): ‘It is sometimes said that a period of assimilation is required before an artist can cope with the immediacy of turbulent events. For example, the so-called ‘Troubles’ of 1968 to 1998 in Northern Ireland are often said to have induced a jejune sensationalism in the work written during that extended period. But it would seem that while there may be some temptation to cheap exploitation of the rawness of immediate event, nevertheless it cannot be denied that the thirty years from 1968 have seen a new vigour in all aspects of creative activity in Ireland, north and south, and that this quickening of impulse has a great deal to do with the emotional and intellectual destabilization brought about by violent conflicts. Not only that, it was not unusual during this period to witness some of the finest literary achievements - such as Seamus Heaney North ( 1975) or Brian Friel Translations (1980) - arise directly out of a sense of crisis created by the piling up of specific atrocities, injustices, lies, humiliations. / Such was the case with the Abbey in the years to 1926. […]’

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John F. Deane, eds., Dedalus Irish Poets (Dublin: Dedalus Press 1992), pp.231-39; selects “The Fear Orchard”; “The Marie Celine”; “The ‘Pav’”; “Memoirs of a Kerry Parson”; “Upper Evergreen Road”; “Over and Over”; “November ’89, Prague’; “August ’91, Moscow”; “Iachall”.

Biog. entries in Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (OUP 1996) and Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature [rev. edn.] (Conn.: Greenwood Press 1996); Who’s Who in Northern Ireland [2000].

Books in Print (1994): Muskerry. Dedalus. 51pp. £4.95 pb 0-948268-93-X; hb £7.95 -94-8. Nov 1991; Irish Writers and Religion. ed. Colin Smythe. 256pp. £22.50(?) 0-86140-112-3. Sep.1992; Changing States: transformations in modern Irish writing. Routledge. 319pp. Stg£12.99 pb. 0-415-09361-9 (hb Stg£35 -08666-3). Sept 1993; The Kilcolman Notebook. Brandon. 128pp. £6.95 pb 0-86322-180-7.April 1994; Writings on Irish Folklore, Legend and Myth. W. B. Yeats, ed. 494pp. Penguin. £7.99 pb 0-14-018001-X. Sept 1993; The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. ed. Clarendon Press. 644pp. Stg£25 0-19-866158-4. Criticism. 69.96 Mar. 1996; New and Selected Poems of Patrick Galvin. ed. Greg Delanty and Cork University Press. 153pp. £12.95 1-85918-079-5; pb £7.95 -091-4. Nov. 1996.

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The Laughter of women, a motif with which Groundwork (1997) closes, may be compared Máirtín Ó Díreáin’s “Rún na mBan” in Rógha Dánta (1949): ‘D’iminn sa deireadh/M’aghaid lasta is mé gonta/Ach is mairg nach bhfanainn;/Nuair a smaoinim naois air/Cá bhfois cén rúndiamhair/Nach eol d’aon fhear beirthe/A phiocfainn ó mhná/Scartha thart ar thine/Iad ag ól tae/Is seálta ar a gcloigne? [I left in the end/Blushing and hurt/But I wish I had stayed:/ When I think of it now/Who knows what secret lore/Unknown to any man alive/I’d have snatched form the women/Ranged round a fire/Drinking tea/With their shawls on their heads?]’ (See Tomás Mac Síomáin & Douglas Sealy, eds., Tacar Dánta/Selected Poems, Newbridge: Goldsmith Press 1984, pp.10-11.)

Ccccccritics: Kilcolman Notebook was noticed with interest in Books Ireland [First Flush] (?Summer 1994) and greeted with warmest approbation in Rüdiger Imhof’s Linen Hall Review (Winter 1994), noting especially the use of intertextuality and dreams. Cormac Dean, reviewing in The Irish Times, found it ‘impressive in scope’ and wrote of it as ‘a foundation on which new historical thought can be built.’ (10 Oct. 1998). It was treated more dismissively in John Devitt’s ‘Brief Notes’ in Irish Literary Supplement [during 1994].

John Arden: Arden’s novel John Bale (1988), on the prosletysing English prelate and specifically “I Am of Ireland” [Chap. VI] is a probable influence and precursor of Groundwork in regard to narration and style, though very different in substance. [BS]

John Jordan, “Irish Catholicism”, essay in The Crane Bag, 7, 2 (1983), p.109, offers a riposte to the vision of Queen Elizabeth as a psychological ogress and the source of all Irish historical malaises (vide Kilcolman Notebook).

Terry Eagleton: in the preface to Crazy John and the Bishop (Cork UP: Field Day 1998), Eagleton acknowledges help in invaluable ways from Robert Welch inter al. (incl. David berman, Andrew Carpenter, David Pierce, et al.)

Univ. Honours: awarded the Snr. Distinguished Research Fellowship of the Univ. of Ulster in Dec. 2003 for ‘expertise in field of interaction betweeen Gaelic and Celtic traditions and writing in English’.

Greg Delanty: ‘The Lost Way’, a poem in Delanty’s collection Hellbox (1998) - previously printed in Irish Review - is dedicated to Robert Welch.

Translation Cork: Cork poets incl. Bernard O’Donoghue, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Theo Dorgan, Greg Delanty, Robert Welch, participated in Cork 2005 European translation series directed by Pat Cotter of the Munster Literature Centre.

Book Launch: 4 Dec. 2006 at The Linehall Library, Belfast, 1-9.00 pm: a reception to mark the launch of two books by Robert Welch, the Protestants [play] and The Evergreen Rd [poetry collection], with readings from the former by Richard Dormer and the latter by Welch himself. (See UU News Online.)

Ricorso: quotations from works of criticism by Robert Welch figure in 115 files of RICORSO - viz. (chiefly): William Allingham, William Drennan; Turlough Carolan; Thomas Sheridan; Vincent Dowling; John Montague; Richard Alfred Milligan; Letitia McClintock; Thomas Crofton Croker; W. B. Yeats; Patrick Kavanagh; Mary Balfour; Máirtín Ó Cadhain; Robert Welch; L. A. G. Strong; Joyce Cary; Michael Longley; John Windele; Teresa Deevy; Patrick Delany; Edmund Burke; Austin Clarke; Thomas Stott; William Maginn; Thomas Moore; Alan Peacock [arch.]; John O’Donovan; Samuel Keightley; Seamus Heaney; James Hardiman; Ulick de Burgh; Brian Friel; Edward Bunting; Michael J. Murphy; Eugene Curry; Standish Hayes O’Grady; Francis Hutchinson; John F. Deane; Edward Walsh; J.J. Callanan; Sarah Curran; Thomas Moore; James C. Mangan; J. H. Todd; George Sigerson; Douglas Hyde; J. M.Synge; Francis Stuart; Tadhg Dall Ó hUiginn; Steve MacDonogh; Desmond Fennell; Ernest Blythe; Michael Moran; Charles J. Kickham; Giraldus Cambrensis; George Petrie; Joseph Holloway; George Moore; Patrick Galvin; Edmund Spenser; Charles Henry Wilson; James Joyce; Joseph Cooper Walker; Seán Ó Riada; Patrick Augustine Sheehan; Aubrey Thomas de Vere; Matthew Arnold; E. Estyn Evans; William Hamilton Drummond; Samuel Ferguson; Dublin Penny Journal; The Nation; James Casey; Gerald Griffin; Charles O’Conor; Colin Smythe; Denis Devlin; Charlotte Brooke; Henry Brooke; Oliver Goldsmith; Thomas Travers Burke; Thomas Percy. (March 2004.)

Kicking the Black Mamba - interviews on publication of the work of that title appeared in the Coleraine Times (14 Sept. 2012) [as attached] and The Irish Times (25 Sept. 2012) [as attached]. An lengthy unsigned notice of the book appeared in The Belfast News Letter (5 Oct. 2012) - online.

Kith & Kin: Welch’s paternal grandfather arrived in Ireland as a serving member of the British security forces during the War of Independence and remained on to marry, thence changing his name by deedpoll.