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The Vibrant House| Irish Writing and Domestic Space

November 30, 2017

The Vibrant House 
Irish Writing and Domestic Space

Rhona Richman Kenneally 
& Lucy McDiarmid, editors


The book will be officially launched by

 Professor Margaret Kelleher, 
Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama, University College Dublin

at 4.00pm–6.00pm on Saturday 9 December 2017

in Poetry Ireland, 11 Parnell Square East, Dublin 1

To learn more about this book, visit the Four Courts Press website at


Publicity News about The Vibrant House: Irish Writing and Domestic Space

The ARENA Show on RTE Radio One will be dedicating a whole show to The Vibrant House on Thursday 7th December next between7.00pm and 8.00pm. Rhona Richman Kenneally and other contributors will be in studio talking about the book with the host, Seán Rocks.  

The Irish Times is planning to use an extract from Theo Dorgan’s essay “Home is where you start from” in the Saturday edition of the newspaper on December 23rd.

Advance praise for this book:

This engaging, subtle book uses many perspectives, historically and theoretically informed, to explore Irish domestic space. Two fine Vona Groarke poems frame the whole; five short spell-binding memoirs by writers and seven essays by leading scholars plot the course, as does Richman Kenneally’s excellent introduction on the spatial turn in Irish Studies. A beautiful “visual essay” illuminates the volume’s journey through Irish spaces from crowded to bare. Home: place of dream and longing, theatre of material aspiration and happy memory, locus of deep meaning, rooted in the earth, but also of confinement, hopelessness, and bitter struggle. The book never labours its points, but its creative disruption of given narratives in Irish Studies is not to be missed.


Patricia Coughlan, University College Cork 

From the ground surveyed by architectural historians, geographers, and scholars of folklife, this fresh book flowers with a bounty of images, memories, and fine writing to enrich our understanding of the house, the home, and the act of dwelling, while welcoming us into the common Irish homes that stand between the Georgian mansion and the thatched cabin.


Henry Glassie, Indiana University 

By drawing attention to the quotidian materiality of Irish domestic space this engaging book bravely puts together scholarly and non-scholarly approaches to address larger existential questions of belonging. The attention to the visual, spatial and material nature of 'home' is thoughtfully unpacked through discussions of interior architecture, personal memory, fiction, poetry, drama and film, in a variety of tones that invoke reflective questions of interiority, privacy, status and cultural representation. By examining how we connect to, experience and 'see' home, this collection gives us a template for how to overlay textual analysis, memoir, and visual culture in a manner rarely seen within Irish literary or historical studies.


Elaine Sisson, Institute of Art, Design and Technology

The Vibrant House
Irish Writing and Domestic Space

Rhona Richman Kenneally and Lucy McDiarmid, editors

This collection of short memoirs and critical essays explores the relation between home as metaphor and symbol, and home as a physical, material and spatial entity. In the first section, ‘Our house’, Colette Bryce, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Theo Dorgan, Mary Morrissy and Macdara Woods remember houses from their childhoods and show, in Ní Chuilleanáin’s words, how the house is a ‘way of understanding the world, its differences and boundaries’. In the second section, entitled ‘Their house’, Angela Bourke, Nicholas Grene, Adam Hanna, Howard Keeley, Lucy McDiarmid, Maureen O’Connor and Tony Tracy look at domestic sites as various as Maeve Brennan’s childhood home in Ranelagh, Dublin, and Synge’s stage spaces. An essay by Rhona Richman Kenneally serves as a conceptual introduction to the collection, and framing poems by Vona Groarke suggest a poet’s version of ‘How to read a building’. A stand-alone visual essay of images and discursive captions featuring domestic spaces addressed in the contributions supports this book’s emphasis on the Irish home as a vibrant space of personal and national identity formation.

Rhona Richman Kenneally is a professor of Design and Computation Arts and co-founder of the School of Irish Studies at Concordia University in Montreal. She is editor of The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies
Lucy McDiarmid is Marie Frazee-Baldassarre Professor of English at Montclair State University and former president of the American Conference for Irish Studies. Her most recent book is At Home in the revolution: what women said and did in 1916.

Cover design: Pata Macedo, part-time faculty member, Dept. of Design and Computation Arts, Concordia University


Paperback. €29.95. AVAILABLE NOW. 264pp; colour ills.

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