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Irish Catholic Identities$
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Oliver P. Rafferty

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719097317

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719097317.001.0001

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Secular prayers

Secular prayers

Catholic imagination, modern Irish writing and the case of John McGahern

(p.321) 19 Secular prayers
Irish Catholic Identities

Frank Shovlin

Manchester University Press

Decline in respect for the Catholic Church in Ireland was mirrored in Irish writing over the last fifty years. John McGahern had more reason than many to feel aggrieved at the church. Dismissed from his job as a primary school teacher at the behest of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, McGahern’s second novel The Dark (1965), was one of the last great cause célèbres of Irish literary censorship. Despite his avowed atheism McGahern’s writing provides a penetrating analysis of what it means to be an Irish Catholic. He always insisted that the church was his first book, and his use of difficult concepts such as grace and blessing have exerted a powerful and moving influence on modern Irish writing.

Keywords:   McGahern theology atheism Catholic-motifs literature

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