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What does it mean to be a writer in the context of a countrys centuries of uncertainty and upheaval? How does an Irish writer define Irish writing? The writers here, who range from early legends like Yeats to modern masters like Roddy Doyle, address these questions through their sources: the land, the Church, the past, and changing politics and literary styles. The book begins with William Yeats and Augusta Gregorys dazzling meditations on the founding of the National Theatre as a venue for a new Irish imagination. Lady Gregory herself is the subject of pithy essays by Kate OBrien and Colm Toibin. Poets discuss their peers Corkery on the Gaelic poets; Frank OConnor on Corkery; OCasey on Yeats; Roddy Doyle on Synge. Emma Donoghue illuminates the life of a lesbian Irish writer, while John Banville excoriates Bloomsday and the pervasiveness and bathos of the Joyce myth. Irish Writers on Writing raises a toast to one of the worlds most vital literary traditions.