Preserving the Relics of Heroic Time
Visualizing the Celtic Revival in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland
The aim of this chapter is to reflect the aspirations and achievements of early twentieth century Ireland through the Irish Arts and Crafts movement, fuelled as it was by 19th century antiquarian discoveries and a growing awareness of the need to preserve what remained of the relics of what was perceived as heroic time. The aim of the Guild of Irish Art-Workers was to find visual expression in a distinctively national yet modern idiom. John Millington Synge, W.B. Yeats and George 'AE' Russell were among those who sought out and treasured the ancient Celtic ‘soul of the world’ preserved in legends, traditions and places untainted by material and industrial progress. Their writings, inspired by current preoccupations with reviving neglected skills while being true to surviving native traditions, were instrumental in providing a rich visual vocabulary of design for a new generation of artists and craftsmen and women in Ireland.
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