The troubles during Cuchulain’s time can be seen as a symbol for the troubles during Yeats’ time. History is constantly repeating itself. By re-introducing old myths into his works, Yeats provided people with inspiration for a modern Ireland. W. B. Yeats gave a voice to the Celtic spirit. He was one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre in 1904, which was central to the Irish Literary Revival. The Irish Revival was about the Irish beginning to do things independently and think for themselves. For Ireland to produce original Irish pieces of literacy and to promote Irish writers.
It is clear that his reasons for being involved in the Irish literary revival were not for political easons, but for cultural. His plays produced for the Abbey Theatre usually reflected his fascination for myths and legends. Folklore gave Yeats a sense of national pride and this is greatly seen throughout his poetry. It is known that Yeats had a great interest in mythology, and he had even been a theosophist. A theosophist is someone who is educated in mystical insight. He then Joined the Golden Dawn, which were a society that practised magic.
He was a member of this secret club for thirty two years. His deep connection with mythology can be derived from his involvement in these ocieties. It was John O’Leary, a famous patriot, who encouraged Yeats to produce poems based on mythology and Irish ballads first. It can be said that Yeats was an easily influenced man. Maud Gonne, a beautiful young Irish woman, who later was to become Yeats muse, encouraged him to produce more nationalistic plays, such as ‘The Countess Kathleen’. He was indeed already a nationalist and loved Ireland. Nationalists put their country and culture first.
It can be argued that some of Yeats works promote the idea of and independent Ireland, free from Britains rule. This is greatly portrayed in the play ‘Cathleen Ni Houlihan’. Yeats was one of the main contributing poets who helped promote a new national identity and a pride in being Irish. It is evident that Yeats’ works convey an accurate portrayal of Irish identity. This is what made Ireland distinct from other countries, such as its opponent England. Ireland’s unique identity revolved around the Irish language and deep religious roots.
The Irish language created a barrier between Ireland and England, it’s what made them a separate unity, how they defined themselves. There was a huge loss of Irish identity when England ruled Ireland. The use of English became more common in Ireland afterwards, which led to a huge loss in the Gaelic language. The introduction of British culture meant that Irish culture was sidelined. Ireland also lost some of its Catholic identity, as the English were Protestants and this religion took over. Many tried to create Irish literature through English language, this was sometimes frowned upon.
An Irish nationalist newspaper wrote that the ‘so-called Irish literary ovement’ was an encumbrance ‘and not a help to a genuine revival’ (An Claidheamh Soluis: 1899; June 10th). They argued that if you write in English, it is essentially an English piece. However, even after numerous attempts to learn Irish, Yeats could barely speak it. He wrote all his works in English. By mixing ancient Celtic legends in nls work, ne managea tos I t II create tne essence 0T Irlsnness . Inese 010 mytns were the foundational beginning of Irish identity. Yeats helped inspire people to look to the past to gain pride in the present.
It can be said that Yeats saw identity different to other Irish revivalists. They all wanted to keep the Irish identity alive, except had varying methods of doing so. It is of my opinion that Yeats used Cuchulain as a means of expressing his Irish heritage. Cuchulain is a renowned man, who in a sense symbolises Ireland. It is not unknown that Yeats loved his dear Ireland, so it can be easily understood why Cuchulain would be chosen as his focus point of Irish folklore. He was also a very interesting character, which would lead to an intriguing starting oint for some of Yeats works.