Ní Shíocháin, Tríona (2018). Singing Ideas: Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry. New York and Oxford: Berghahn


  • Erika Piazzoli Trinity College Dublin




Singing Ideas: Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry is a fascinating insight into the Irish tradition of singing and its potency to fuel political thought and identity, in the context of eighteenth-century Ireland. To that purpose, Tríona Ní Shíocháin takes us through an informed analysis of the lived-experience of one historical figure, the magnetic Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire (Yellow Mary O’Leary). One of the greatest Irish song poets of her time, Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire was born in 1774 and died during the Great Irish Famine in 1848. She is depicted as a charismatic woman who composed and sang anti-colonial ideas, mocking nobility and denouncing social exploitation in Ireland. During her life, her craft gained her the reputation of a prophetic figure, a truth-teller or parrhesiast – a Greek notion that, as Foucault (2011) holds, refers to those with the courage to address urgent political issues, in public, even if running the risk of putting their lives in danger. Parrhesia, Foucault argues, can set social and historical change in motion – and that is precisely what seems to have happened through Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire’s subversive singing. Through the unique lens of this fascinating character, Ní Shíocháin is able to paint ...


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