Given the overall ‘messiness’ of the Gothic genre, critics should exercise great caution when looking at regional or national variations. ‘Irish Gothic’ is not a genre but rather a particular inflection of a genre, weighted with political and ideological ballast. While not a genre, it is, however, a tradition, and more often than not a very self-conscious one, given that later texts constantly revisit earlier ones, ‘revising plots, revisiting themes, reanimating characters . . . recall[ing] their predecessors as much as they innovate and modernise’.81 Despite the self-conscious, and often self-referential, tendency of Irish Gothic, calling it a ‘tradition’ has become very controversial in Irish studies and has been attacked by a number of very prominent critics. The notion that there even is a Gothic tradition in Irish writing is still relatively new, and ironically the critical figure involved in convincing scholars to examine the tradition was also at the same time undermining its existence. As a brilliant biographer of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and a formidable cultural historian, W. J. McCormack is, perhaps, the major theorist of the Irish Gothic. In his seminal ‘Irish Gothic and After’ (1991) he examined the field in some detail, tracing its beginnings in a number of now obscure novels from the late eighteenth century such as Roche’s Children of the Abbey (1796), Mrs Kelly’s Ruins of Avondale Priory (1796), Mrs F. C. Patrick’s The Irish Heiress (1797) and More Ghosts! and Mrs Colpoys’s The Irish Excursion (1801), and followed its trajectory through the writings of Maturin, Lady Morgan, Lady Clarke, Le Fanu, William Carleton, Wilde, Stoker, W. B. Yeats, John Millington Synge and Elizabeth Bowen. This list of writers looked, to some, to be a ready-made Irish canon, an interpretation bolstered by McCormack’s argument that ‘if the Irish tradition of gothic fiction turns out, on examination, to be a slender one, there are other ways in which such material is of literary significance’.82 Indeed, McCormack’s article fell foul of the more general reaction to The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing in which it appeared. Although the editor, Seamus Deane, explicitly stated that the anthology was not meant to amount to a ‘canon’ of Irish writing, and was through its very inclusiveness designed to undermine and problematise all such pretensions to canonicity, critics of the project claimed that in its selection of editors and its exclusion or under-representation of some Irish writers it effectively amounted to a politicised rather than a catholic representation of the richness of a vaguely defined ‘Irish’ literature. ‘Irish Gothic and After’ was taken by some as positing a canon of Irish Gothic, and McCormack later returned to the issue to complicate such a simplistically linear reading of his choices.
In his important study Dissolute Characters (1993), McCormack argued that the Irish writers of Gothic literature did not produce a definitive ‘tradition’ but merely mobilised the conventions found in English Gothic.83 For McCormack, the terms ‘tradition’ and ‘canon’ conjure up too strongly the image of a direct and chronological line of great writers influencing one another. The danger with such constructions is that they effectively close themselves off to external forces and pressures, make Irish culture into an inward looking and self-generating force, and suggest a coherence and formal and ideological similarity that simply does not exist between the texts and authors themselves. In relation to Irish Gothic itself, McCormack posed a chronological problem: there is a large gap of twenty-five years between the publication of Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) and Le Fanu’s first novel, The Cock and the Anchor (1845) (which, according to McCormack, is not a Gothic novel), and a further gap of nineteen years before Uncle Silas (1864) arrived. Such a gapped and discontinuous line could be called a ‘tradition’ in only the most dubious sense. McCormack wanted to complicate this idea of a tradition by examining what he called ‘interventions’ into Irish literary history; he pointed out that Honoré de Balzac’s Melmoth réconcilié (1836), rather than any Irish text, is a crucial connection between Maturin and Le Fanu.84
McCormack’s main difficulty is with the political and historical implications of the entangled concepts of ‘canon’ and ‘tradition’ in the writing of Irish literary history. He is not simply uncomfortable with the ‘Irish Gothic canon/tradition’ but also with canons and traditions as constructed by literary historians with ideological agendas to promote. Indeed, his chapter ‘Cashiering the Gothic Canon’ begins with what might be construed as a polemic against previous literary historians who have constructed Irish literary history from an Irish nationalist perspective (precisely the argument used against the Field Day Anthology in the first place). Although he surprisingly exempts Seamus Deane’s A Short History of Irish Literature (1986) from a shame list of ‘literary chroniclers’85 he singles out versions of Irish literary history which canonise in order to promote a ‘patriotic’ view of Irish writing. He complains, for example, that ‘the Jonathan Swift whom editors know’ (and whom, it is implied, gains McCormack’s approbation) ‘is scarcely recognisable as the figure of similar name recurring as a patriot in the literary histories’. Indeed, ‘the chroniclers inhabit a last ditch of cultural nationalism’.86 That McCormack emphatically includes the Field Day school and its supposed supporters in the Irish media in his disapprobation is clear from a reference in From Burke to Beckett (1994) in which he argues that ‘much of what declares itself post-colonialist in its concerns is readily detectible as Irish nationalism, unreconstructed yet occasionally garnished with the origami of notable house-Trotskyites in the Dublin newspaper world’.87
Although McCormack is very dissatisfied with the notion of an Irish Gothic tradition in part because such a construction results in Sheridan Le Fanu being uncritically linked to writers such as Stoker and Maturin – writers he considers to be often embarrassingly bad by comparison – the position of Le Fanu is merely a local and restricted example of the tendentiousness of canon making and tradition drawing in general which he has spent a great deal of his critical career undermining. It is the political implications of canon making and the ideological connotations of a certain view of an Irish literary tradition, as well as the historical simplifications involved in constructing Irish literary and Gothic traditions, that attract McCormack’s destructive focus. In Dissolute Characters he declares it his ‘modest’ aim to so problematise Le Fanu’s relationship with the ‘so-called’ and ‘doubtful’ Irish Gothic tradition, that it would be impossible to fit him in to prevailing models, but it is clear that in doing this McCormack wants to add to the growing problematisation of the ideas of canon and tradition in Irish literature itself.88
The appeal to ‘tradition’ masks historical processes, elides questions of origin and naturalises complex literary and cultural relations, and does this for ideological reasons. McCormack urges the ‘unmasking of tradition as cousin-german to ideology’.89 As Terence Brown pointed out in a review of Dissolute Characters,
it is none of McCormack’s purpose . . . to suggest the kinds of continuities, influences, rewritings, and critical engagements that are the stuff of less forensically sceptical literary history. Literary history in McCormack’s quizzically interrogative mind is by contrast, a contested, troublingly uncertain activity which can only be awarded respect when it respects the weird contingencies of the human variable and the negotiations that occur in all writing between the world as text and the world as social and political construction. His version of a literary history is really a kind of anti-history which is arranged in terms of fissures and discontinuities.90
McCormack’s complaints have been strongly echoed by others. Richard Haslam too is very ill-at-ease with the concept of ‘tradition’ and wants that term retired. He invokes the suggestion made by Robert Hume, who, in an influential article, urged that Gothic be thought of as a ‘mode’, and a ‘very loosely defined mode’ at that.91 Haslam insists that ‘It may92 now be time to go all the way—retiring “the Irish Gothic tradition” and replacing it with “the Irish Gothic mode”—as long as the latter phrase is understood to be shorthand for a distinct but discontinuous disposition, a gradually evolving yet often intermittent suite of themes, motifs, devices, forms, and styles, selected in specific periods, locations, and rhetorical situations, by a succession of different writers’.93 In a recent intervention into this debate, Christina Morin has supported Haslam’s call for an end to an obsession with tradition found in Irish studies. She argues that both the terms ‘Irish Gothic’ and the ‘Irish Gothic tradition’ are too restrictive, and while ‘helpful’ in pointing out connections between writers, misleading in their apparent transparency.94 Margaret Kelleher is also suspicious of the term ‘tradition’ and suggests that while ‘the Gothic mode with its distinctive anxieties is a significant form in nineteenth-century Irish writing’, ‘the coherence and extent of such a tradition may be overstated’.95
My own response to this complaint by Kelleher is that while certainly the ‘coherence’ of the tradition could be overstated, this would matter only if you have already invested in the idea that traditions have to be ‘coherent’ rather than rather messy, inchoate and amorphous. While the critical numbers against the notion of an ‘Irish Gothic tradition’ are stacking up, there are still others, like Jim Hansen, who use the term without appearing to worry too much about the complications involved, but at the moment, such critics appear to be in the minority.96
Of course, the attack on notions of tradition in Irish Gothic Studies is merely a symptom of a much wider suspicion of traditions and the traditional in modernity and post-modernity, and when we widen our interpretive lens it becomes clear that ‘tradition’ is one of the most abused terms in existence. As many have contended, modernity is in large part predicated on the rejection of tradition which was configured as a kind of historical burden preventing the individual from realising his selfworth. Raymond Williams points out that the term ‘traditionalism’ is generally applied as a ‘description of habits or beliefs inconvenient to virtually any innovation’.97 ‘Tradition’ indicates a ‘handing down’ of knowledge or material, and since modernity involves the slaying of the past and the rejection of that handed down on authority, to call something a ‘tradition’ is actually a way to dismiss it. The myth of the modern is that it is all that the past is not: it is progress. As Michel de Certeau has argued, ‘modern Western history essentially begins with the differentiation between the past and the present’,98 and as Diarmuid Ó Giolláin explains, ‘a key implication of modernization is that tradition prevents societies from achieving progress’.99
Interestingly, Gothic novels are often about precisely this shift from the traditional and pre-modern to an innovative modernity. While ‘Gothic’ as a term may gesture towards the Middle Ages,100 Gothic novels themselves are usually interested in ‘transition periods’ more generally, in-between times of change,101 what Robert Miles has called the ‘Gothic cusp’, on the birth of modernity.102 Gothic, in other words, is about that transition from a ‘traditional’ to a ‘modern’ society, and traces the dangers and difficulties involved in such an epistemic transformation. In its repeated recurrence to the refusal of the past to go away, the Gothic demonstrates the kinds of neurotic replications that occur when a society or an individual attempts to deny the force of the traditional. In renouncing the traditional, the Gothic often compels its characters to deal with monstrous representations of traditional knowledge and traditional behaviours. The dead come back to life and terrorise the living. The Gothic is located at this historical juncture as it is a product of a society that is seeking to heal itself from the crisis involved in such a traumatic transition where the traditional has been supposedly superseded.103 In other words, the Gothic has been rather less suspicious of traditions and the traditional and rather more interested in what happens when you deny traditions than some of those attacking the notion that an Irish Gothic tradition exists at all.
‘Tradition’, the handing down from one generation to another, generally with the implication that it be treated with respect, is simply antithetical to much thinking generated by modernity, in part because such handing down imbues the past with an aura it perhaps does not deserve. Unfortunately, there has also been a tendency to see the traditional only in its most objectionable guises and a concomitant automatic, knee-jerk rejection of anything that comes with the aura of the past and authority. Much scholarly work has gone into investigating the ‘invention of tradition’,104 the manufacture of tradition for ideological reasons, to keep the present generation in ideological subservience to an older one.105 In literary terms, too, ‘tradition’ has been imbued with a kind of sanctified aura, mainly because of the work of T. S. Eliot and his crucial essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919), which called for the individual writer to channel the work of his great literary forebearers, to attempt to embody ‘the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer’, effectively surrendering himself to the awesome power of the Western tradition.106 The attack on ‘tradition’ has certainly been felt in English Studies, and from the 1950s onwards, generations of ‘anti-Establishment’ intellectuals have directed their polemic against the canon as derived from older theorists like Eliot and F. R. Leavis, as representative of a conservative ideological orientation. Indeed, one of the first results of the attack on canons and traditions was a new critical respect for Gothic, supposedly marginalised as a minor and embarrassing strain in literature by conservative readers. Critics turned in ever-increasing numbers to laud the importance of this much-maligned genre, claiming for it victim status, a necessary move as ‘the cultural politics of modern critical debate grant to vindicators of the marginalized or repressed a special licence to evade questions of artistic merit’. Certainly, the Gothic has become paradigmatic as the ‘Other’ of classical realism and has led critics to eulogising it as the ‘battered child’ of modern literature.107
When we turn again to the attack on the notion of an ‘Irish Gothic tradition’ it is clear that ideological concerns are behind it. W. J. McCormack complains that ‘the notion of Anglo-Irish literature is given an excessive stability by the acceptance of tradition as accumulated and accumulative succession’;108 he notes that ‘in its Yeatsian form’ the assertion of a tradition is ‘a statement of certain continuities’;109 tradition, he later opines ‘is frequently identified with a conservative literary history’;110 his book is all about ‘unmask[ing] the Yeatsian tradition’;111 he is sympathetic to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s view of tradition as ‘cousin-german to ideology’.112 This is also what lies behind Richard Haslam’s discontent with ‘tradition’. He contends that:
‘Tradition’ denotes the handing across generations of sacred knowledge and rules; in literary critical contexts, the designation evokes the solemn architectonics of Eliot, Leavis and Yeats. However, tradition is too weighty (and weighted) a word to describe the irregular development and deployment of Gothic forms and themes in the work of Irish writers over the course of three centuries.113
In calling for the retirement of ‘tradition’ from the Irish Gothic critical idiom Haslam invokes the support of not only Robert Hume but also Fred Botting, one of the major figures in Gothic criticism.114 There is, though, a serious problem with relying on Botting to back up this dismantling of ‘tradition’ in favour of ‘mode’ in that he actually uses both terms fairly inconsistently throughout his study of Gothic.115 Indeed, to suggest that Botting favours a shift from ‘tradition’ to ‘mode’ is to misrepresent his view. Botting’s argument is that given the sheer diffusion of ‘Gothic forms and figures over more than two centuries’ it is difficult to define Gothic as ‘a homogenous generic category’; as a ‘mode’ it exceeds ‘genre and categories’.116 There is certainly no rejection of the notion of a ‘Gothic tradition’ here since in the same paragraph he writes, ‘While certain devices and plots, what might be called the staples of the Gothic, are clearly identifiable in early Gothic texts, the tradition draws on medieval romances, supernatural, Faustian and fairy tales, Renaissance drama, sentimental, picaresque and confessional narratives as well as the ruins, tombs and nocturnal speculations that fascinated Graveyard poets’ (my italics).117 A page and a half later, discussing American Gothic, Botting claims that in the United States ‘the literary canon is composed of works in which the influence of romances and Gothic novels is far more overt’, so that American literature seems ‘virtually an effect of a Gothic tradition. Gothic can perhaps be called the only true literary tradition’ (my italics).118 He afterwards points to Horace Walpole as the founder of ‘the Gothic tradition’ (my italics);119 Introduction 25 argues that Charles Brockden Brown was a negotiator of ‘European and American Gothic traditions’ (my italics);120 and considers that David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) absorbs ‘the American Gothic tradition’ (my italics).121
The term ‘tradition’ is indeed a problematic and sometimes distorting one in literary critical history, but if we were to retire all terms which were problematic and distorting we would be left with a much denuded and even more distorting view in which ‘mode’ does not help one bit. The Gothic is a genre which warns against such railing against and repression of traditions, such deconstructions of the traditional, so it is rather odd to find it co-opted into the anti-traditional project. An important objection to the intense suspicion of ‘tradition’ when discussing Irish Gothic is that ‘tradition’ is a much more polyvalent term than many of its critics have allowed. Indeed, McCormack himself makes it clear that he objects only to a specific formulation of tradition, tradition ‘in its Yeatsian form’122 – the view of ‘tradition’ articulated by the modernists. Modernist views of tradition are not the only ones, even if they have been allowed to dominate discussion in the literary critical world. While McCormack wants to ‘cashier’ the monologic, modernist view of tradition, he reminds us that it is perfectly possible to ‘consider tradition historically as the (sometimes contradictory and violent) convergence of readings, not of texts’.123 He urges his readers not to mistake tradition for its objects (the components of the canon) but instead to recognise it as ‘the social and cultural dynamics of the process of handing down, and the place of this in the modes of production of the period and the historical character of that period’.124
Indeed, once we move outside the sometimes narrow confines of literary history we find that ‘tradition’ has been used in this much more complicated way as including both actual works and the processes involved in interpreting and transmitting these works. For example (one that might not gain me very many friends), the Catholic Church in the Dogmatic Constitution of Divine Revelation, debated at the Second Vatican Council in 1962, problematised an old-fashioned view of Catholic tradition as simply referring to the deposit of faith and redefined it as ‘the whole process by which the Church “hands on” . . . its faith to each new generation’.125 The relationship between Irish Gothic texts – or Irish texts that employ Gothic tropes and themes – and the process of reception and interpretation of these texts is (hesitatingly and in a limited way) analogous to the relationship between scripture and interpretation in the Catholic tradition: ‘Tradition comes before and during and not just after, the writing of Sacred Scripture’.126 Haslam’s reminder of the term ‘mode’ is certainly useful, but it is rather strange to think that its use requires the ‘retirement’ of the term ‘tradition’. To invoke a more theological discourse, I would suggest that the Irish Gothic mode subsists in the Irish Gothic tradition, and that this tradition includes all articulations of the Gothic mode (including all critical refection on it) that have any relationship to the subject matter of ‘Ireland’, as broadly conceived as that can be.
In this way ‘tradition’ can be re-conceived, in Paul Ricoeur’s words, not as ‘the inert transmission of some dead deposit of material but . . . the living transmission of an innovation always capable of being reactivated by a return to the most creative moments of poetic activity’.127 The sociologist Edward Shils has made the very useful distinction between tradition as something that is authoritatively handed down and tradition as ‘a chain of transmitted variants, as in the “Platonic tradition” or the “Kantian tradition”’. Shils’s point is that it is perfectly possible to use a non-essentialist, and indeed non-authoritarian, version of tradition which reveals how traditions are historically constructed while maintaining the sense that there are indeed things handed down from one generation (of writers) to the next.128 Likewise, for the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, traditions are always negotiated rather than a simple set of authoritative texts or rules.129 The Eliotean notion of a Tradition would be difficult to maintain in a country like Ireland anyway, given the violent discontinuities and gaps in its history. In an attempt to explain the absence of a strong realist canon in Ireland, the theorist David Lloyd has posited that there were simply too many elements within Ireland that could not be assimilated by a realist form. He argues that the paradigm of the realist novel is the bildungsroman, the novel of education and growth, and it thus relies on notions of development and maturation, expressive of a society growing teleologically into a nation state. Ireland was, however, composed of many elements which were uninterested in such statist narratives, and these ‘non-modern’ elements could not be properly accounted for by the standard realist conventions, and thus the realist novel never really had a chance in Ireland.130 This also helps to explain why applying modernist notions of tradition and canon to Irish writing at all is simply to make a category error, and why attempts to do so will always break down.
Accepting the much more complicated and conflicted version of tradition suggested by W. J. McCormack and used elsewhere helps us to come to grips with some of the complications of Irish literary and social history – especially since it also helps the critic break away from the historically myopic scepticism towards tradition that has defined modernity and post-modernity. Taking full account of this view of tradition as a very complex, contradictory, often ‘violent’ process of Introduction 27 textual production and cultural interpretation allows us to see critical responses to the use of Gothic themes and tropes as constituting part of the Irish Gothic tradition, a tradition in which no one single ideological or political affiliation is discernible. While appreciating the force of McCormack’s critique of putative ‘traditions’ as often all-too-easy constructions of the ideological imagination, I would suggest that the kind of Irish Gothic line left after his deconstruction resembles a Gothic edifice, full of suggestive gaps, obscure corners, imposing promontories (the ‘great’ works), fractures, fragments.131 In other words, despite the effects of historical process and ‘external’ interventions, a list of writers which includes figures as substantial as Maturin, Le Fanu, Wilde, Stoker, Yeats, Synge, and Bowen, all of whom have a connection to the same political and geographical space, all of whom have recourse to the same broadly defined conventions of Gothic, all of whom have some thematic associations, may still amount to a (much complicated) version of a tradition, indeed, a Gothic tradition in the full sense of the word. The Irish Gothic is a canon, a tradition and a mode all at once. A literary tradition survives in the face of McCormack’s justifiable worries that ideology rather than history lies behind the positing of an Irish Gothic. To assert a Gothic tradition in Ireland we need not make a disguised claim to Irish self-sufficiency or even to any great thematic coherence linking very different texts and authors; we have merely to suggest that certain Irish writers pursued certain similar questions that were historically specific to the Irish situation, and in doing so they utilised the Gothic conventions. The ‘Irishness’ of the tradition comes from the fact that the writers had some important Irish connection, dealt with Irish issues, and were partially influenced by (or at least vaguely aware of) an Irish line of precursors.
Engaging with contemporary debates about the extent and importance of the Irish Gothic helps to clear the field for a proper discussion of the history of the genre in Ireland, ironically by acknowledging and accepting the messiness and blurriness of definitions and traditions. In Chapter 1, I move on to placing the genre in the Irish Anglican community and tracing the reasons for its emergence in the aftermath of the political crisis of the 1750s. The apparently obvious relationship between Irish Anglicans and Irish Gothic has been challenged since the late 2000s, and this chapter gives serious attention to such objections (unpacking the theory of a ‘Catholic-nationalist Gothic’) and also seeks to examine carefully the reasons why the Irish Gothic is correctly associated with Irish Anglicans. I argue that the Irish Anglican community in Ireland should be thought of as an ‘enclave’ dependent on images of horror and terror to police its borders. In the 1850s, with the Money Bill 28 The Emergence of Irish Gothic Fiction dispute, this enclave suffered an extraordinary crisis and split into liberal and conservative camps. This split led ‘liberal’ Patriot Anglicans to move from pure horror and terror to the much more complicated genre of the Gothic. The chapter also shows that one possible reason for the attractiveness of the Gothic for the Anglican community in Ireland is that it is a genre peculiarly obsessed with questions of identity and liminality. Historicising the Irish Gothic in the 1750s is the first step to understanding its ideological and theological biases, and helps to explain why previous theorists have been right to insist on the Protestantism of the genre.
Chapter 2 takes seriously the objection that critics of Irish Gothic have been exceeding the proper limits of interpretation, that they are guilty of in some way breeching interpretive decorum in pushing explanation as far as it can go. Specifically in terms of the Irish Gothic, the charge has been that many of us are guilty of seeing Ireland and Irish issues everywhere we look – of imposing an Irish context on literature that is really uninterested in Ireland. I will pay particular attention to the concern that ‘reading Ireland’ into Irish Gothic texts is a form of allegoresis rather than interpretation. The chapter will then move on to looking at the use of allegory in eighteenth-century Irish writing as a context for understanding certain allegorising trends in Irish Gothic writing of the mid-century, paying particular attention to the context provided by aisling poems, Jonathan Swift’s The Story of the Injured Lady (1746), and later national novels.
Chapter 3 builds on the argument concerning the use of allegory in eighteenth-century Irish writing and examines that curious (and curiously neglected) novel The Adventures of Miss Sophia Berkley, often now posited as the ‘first’ Gothic novel written and published in Ireland. The novel was published in 1760, just months after a major anti-union riot had taken place in Dublin and in the context of a major pamphlet war debating the merits of patriotism in Irish politics. The novel itself is rather mysterious in that we know nothing about its authorship and very little about who actually read it. Although no one has ever interpreted the novel in terms of the politics of the 1750s, this chapter will argue that it is only by re-placing it in the print culture of Patriot Dublin that we can begin to understand why a specifically ‘Gothic’ fiction emerged at precisely this moment in Ireland’s history. The novel is particularly obsessed with questions of marriage and consent, and these were the terms in which the debate about a potential union of Great Britain and Ireland was being conducted at the time of publication. The main characters in the novel insist on the importance of consent in all contracts (and especially sexual contracts), and they frame all instances where consent is not sought as an attempt to enslave and demoralise. The chapter argues that reading the novel into 1750s Dublin and the pamphlet debates on the union and the Money Bill dispute reveals that the emergence of Irish Gothic fiction drew very deeply upon patriot sentiment and argument, and establishes that the tradition of Irish Gothic fiction begins as an expression of liberal Irish Anglican thought.
Chapter 4 examines the monstrous construction of the Catholic in Irish writing and imbeds this construction in monster theory and the Gothic more generally before moving on to examine ways Irish Catholic historians attempted to challenge this construction through a revision of the history of the most infamous episode in Irish history, the 1641 rebellion. It examines, in particular, the new histories of the rising produced by Catholics such as John Curry as well as furious Irish Anglican reaction to this attempted ‘unmonstering’. This is a prelude to a reading of Thomas Leland’s Gothic novel Longsword in Chapter 5, which treats the novel in parallel with Leland’s later History of Ireland (1773) as two parts of a project to unmonster the Irish Catholic and promote liberal Anglican Patriotism. The conclusion briefly traces the history of Irish Gothic from the mid-eighteenth to the twenty-first century and examines whether it can be said that the genre is passing out of popularity in Ireland. The book will, therefore, attempt to thoroughly ‘explain’ the emergence of the Irish Gothic, but it will also help the reader see where the tradition goes after the 1760s, right up to contemporary writings.