Skip navigation

UCD Search


Scholarcast 1: 'Doing Something Irish': From Thomas Moore to Riverdance

PJ Matthews


An analysis of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies is crucial to any historical understanding of the dynamics of the culture industry from an Irish perspective. His idealised and remote Gaelic past was lightly peppered with understated suggestions that the glories of ancient Ireland might be restored. W.B. Yeats's contempt for mass popular culture had its origins in an allergy to Moore's popular verses and is responsible for a bifurcation at the heart of the Revival project between mass popular culture and "authentic" folk culture. Like Moore's Melodies, Bill Whelan's Riverdance has become the stable signifier of a complex cultural moment. The innovation and appeal of his music lies in his ability to interrogate and transcend the highly compartmentalised divisions within Irish music which can be traced back to Yeats's rejection of Moore's songs.


P.J. Mathews lectures in the School of English, Drama and Film at UCD. He was the Naughton Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame in 2007-08. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to John Millington Synge which will be published in 2009 and author of Revival: the Abbey Theatre, Sinn Féin, the Gaelic League and the Co-operative Movement (Field Day / Cork UP, 2003). He is the editor of New Voices in Irish Criticism (Four Courts Press, 2000) and was Director of the Parnell Summer School from 2002-05. He is Director of UCDscholarcast and editor of its inaugural series, The Art of Popular Culture: From 'The Meeting of the Waters' to Riverdance.


Series edited by: PJ Mathews.
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography and development by: John Matthews, Brian Kelly, Vincent Hoban &
Niall Watts at UCD IT Services, Media Services.
Consultant Producer: Clíodhna Ní Anluain, RTÉ

Need help listening or subscribing to Scholarcast episodes? Please refer to our 'How to use this podcast page' for help.