Advertisement

‘The Wake? What of It?’: Figures of Loss in the Migrant Plays of Colm Ó Clubhán

  • Ed Madden
Chapter
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)

Abstract

This chapter focuses on two plays by Colm Clifford, an Irish gay migrant active in the early 1970s gay liberation movement and a founding member of the agitprop theatre group, the Brixton Faeries. Through the 1980s, he began to write plays and poetry addressing the migrant identity and belonging—especially the difficult interstitial identities of the queer ethnic migrant. His first play, Friends of Rio Rita (1985), performed for both LGBT and Irish theatre audiences in London, addressed the difficulties of being gay and Irish. As he explained in a 1985 interview, “I can list forever the oppression of Irish people living in England, yet I cannot live [as a gay man] in Ireland”—a difficult position exacerbated by the anti-Irish racism of English gay men and the anti-gay attitudes of the Irish migrant community. His second play, Reasons for Staying (1986), broadens its focus to include a woman who stayed in England after seeking an abortion and an old navvy whose friends back home have died, as well as a second-generation Irishman and his English fiancée whose perceptions of Ireland are coloured by nostalgia and tourist posters. Clifford’s work, which has failed to receive critical attention or adequate publication, is a critical intervention in representations of gender and sexuality in the Irish diaspora, and as the Irish canon of LGBT work becomes increasingly calcified, a reconsideration of his work suggests the centrality of diaspora studies to Irish queer studies—and the necessity of queer studies to Irish diaspora studies.

Works Cited

  1. Ahmed, Sarah. (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion (New York: Routledge).Google Scholar
  2. Bell, David, and Jon Binnie. (2000). The Sexual Citizen: Queer Politics and Beyond (Cambridge: Polity Press).Google Scholar
  3. Boyd, Clodagh, et al. (eds.). (1986). Out for Ourselves: The Lives of Irish Lesbians and Gay Men (Dublin: Dublin Lesbian and Gay Men’s Collectives and Women’s Community Press).Google Scholar
  4. Delaney, Enda. (2007). The Irish in Post-war Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ferriter, Diarmaid. (2009). Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (London: Profile Books).Google Scholar
  6. Freud, Sigmund. (1934). ‘Mourning and Melancholia’, in Ernest Jones (ed.), Collected Papers of Freud, Volume 4 (London: The Hogarth Press), pp. 152–70.Google Scholar
  7. Gilmartin, Mary, and Allen White. (2013). ‘Conclusion: The Place of Migration’, in Mary Gilmartin and Allen White (eds.), Migrations: Ireland in a Global World (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp. 228–40.Google Scholar
  8. Gray, Breda. (2004). Women and the Irish Diaspora (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  9. Hickman, Mary J. (2005). ‘Migration and Diaspora’, in Joe Cleary and Claire Connolly (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 117–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hickman, Mary J. (2014). ‘Thinking About Ireland and the Irish Diaspora’, in Tom Inglis (ed.), Are the Irish Different? (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp. 133–43.Google Scholar
  11. Lacey, Brian. (2008). Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality in Irish History (Dublin: WordWell).Google Scholar
  12. MacSweeney, Jimmy. (2013). Personal Interviews, London, July 2013.Google Scholar
  13. Madden, Ed. (2012). ‘Queering the Irish Diaspora: David Rees and Padraig Rooney’, Éire-Ireland 47 (1–2), pp. 173–200.Google Scholar
  14. Madden, Ed. (2013). ‘Queering Ireland, in the Archives’, Irish University Review 43 (1), pp. 184–221.Google Scholar
  15. Madden, Ed. (2017). ‘Where and How He Loves: Reading Pearse Hutchinson Now’, Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies, July 2017 (Online). Available at: http://breac.nd.edu/articles/where-and-how-he-loves-reading-pearse-hutchinson-now/, accessed 6 Jan 2018.
  16. Murray, Tony. (2012). London Irish Fictions: Narrative, Diaspora and Identity (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press).Google Scholar
  17. Ó Clúbhán, Colm. (1985). Friends of Rio Rita’s, Typescript (London: Personal Collection of James MacSweeney).Google Scholar
  18. Ó Clúbhán, Colm. (1986a). Reasons for Staying, Typescript (London: Personal Collection of James MacSweeney).Google Scholar
  19. Ó Clúbhán, Colm. (1986b). ‘From Sexuality for Export’, in Clodagh Boyd, et al. (eds.), Out for Ourselves: The Lives of Irish Lesbians and Gay Men (Dublin: Dublin Lesbian and Gay Men’s Collectives and Women’s Community Press), pp. 90–2.Google Scholar
  20. O’Connor, Kevin. (1974). The Irish in Britain, Revised Edition (Dublin: Torc Books).Google Scholar
  21. O’Toole, Tina. (2013). ‘Cé Leis Tú? Queering Irish Migrant Literature’, Irish University Review 43 (1), pp. 131–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. O’Toole, Tina. (2017). Personal Conversation at the 2017 Conference of the International Association for Studies of Irish Literatures, Singapore, July 2017.Google Scholar
  23. Patten, Eve. (2006). ‘Contemporary Irish Fiction’, in John Wilson Foster (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Irish Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 259–75.Google Scholar
  24. Philpott, Ger. (2011). ‘Martyr in the Park’, GI [Gay Ireland] 1, pp. 52–8.Google Scholar
  25. Pilkington, Lionel. (2010). Theatre & Ireland (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).Google Scholar
  26. Popoviciu, Liviu, Chris Haywood, and Mairtin Mac an Ghaill. (2006). ‘Migrating Masculinities: The Irish Diaspora in Britain’, Irish Studies Review 14 (2), pp. 169–87.Google Scholar
  27. Quigley, Aidan. (2017). ‘RIOT Director Stages Show About Being Gay in 1980s London’, GCN [Gay Community News], October 31 (Online). Available at: https://gcn.ie/riot-director-stages-show-gay-1980s-london/, accessed 6 Jan 2018.
  28. Rossiter, Ann. (2009). Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora: The ‘Abortion Trail’ and the Making of a London–Irish Underground, 1980–2000 (London: IASC Publishing). Google Scholar
  29. Smyth, Gerry. (1997). The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction (London: Pluto).Google Scholar
  30. Sorohan, Sean. (2012). Irish London During the Troubles (Dublin: Irish Academic Press).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ed Madden
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations