Irish literature is dated from the 4th and 5thcentury A.D. The first inscriptions or generally simple memorials were by the Ogam writing system, “an elementary type of written literature” as A. D. Binchy called it. The Orgam is considered the first Irish writing system in the 4thcentury and it uses Celtic and Roman methods of writing.32 Ancient Celtic writings were oral like the early Irish epic the Tain Bo Cualgne (the driving away of the Bull of Cooley).33The first Irish writing records came with the coming of Christianity in 431 A.D. by Palladiuswho was sent by the Pope, and after him St. Patrick whose written texts Confession and Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, were the inspiration for a manuscript known as the Book of Armagh that appeared in the ninth century.34 With the production of this book the church wanted to bring an exactly written material as in the Old Testament. Those writings combined both Christian elements and pagan sagas. These writings produced by the monks were written in the Gaelic language. These monks recorded poetry as well as mythological tales. 35 As a result, literature flourished. The following centuries up to the Ninth century, different forms of writings appeared beside the religious writings. Hymns and religious texts written in both Latin and Irish appeared, as Colum Cille’sAltus Prosator. During the eighth century Blathmac mac Con Brettan, an Irish poet and a monk, wrote two poems in verse ( one of them is not finished) about Christ addressing it to his mother, Mary. They were entitled Tair cucum a Maire boid ( Come to Me , Loving Mary) and A Marie, a grian ar clainde (Mary, Sun of our Race).36During the eighth century the men of law used secular religious legislations which covered a wide range of subjects and shed light on the life of the Irish society. Thomas-Charles Edwards describe these texts as “one of the few outstanding pieces of social analysis in early medieval. Europe”.37In the twelfth century, a collection of medieval sagas and heroic legends were written. The four cycles were known as the Historical cycle or the Syde of the Kings, the Mythological cycle, the Ulster cycle and the Fenian cycle. The Historical cycle deals with kings of legends and history. The Ulster cycle or the Red Branch cycle is a series of tales that concerns the Province of Ulster.38 The tales of this cycle concentrate on the heroes of that area. Among its characters is Cúchulainn, the bravest warrior of the Celtic myth along with woman warrior Scáthach, who taught warriors the art of fighting. The stories of The Fenian cycle or also known as (Fianna or Ossianic cycle) are about the acts of a group of warriors and their leader Fionn MacCumhaill.39During the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries the literary production deteriorated. Only with the English supremacy over Ireland, the literary class lost its patrons. The writings of those periods were compatible with the way of thinking of four groups, the English, the Old English, the native Irish and the new English.40 The narrative writings written in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, whether written in Irish or English, showed the political strife which presented Ireland as both as an inseparable part of the kingdom of England and as an individual country. These writings were the interpretations of the political scene in Ireland at that time.41 Literature in English covered different genres in a wide scope of time, witnessing different political upheavals. It encompassed many literary names like William Baldwin (1518- 1563) who produced the first prose fiction, Richard Bellings(1603- 77), wrote verse, poetry, romance and history. Literature in Irish, on the other hand, starts with the written and printed religious writings in the Irish Franciscan College in Louvain which led to the production of grammar and dictionaries.42Irish history is burdened with invasions, colonisation, migrations, civil wars, famines, and uprisings which all had a tremendous impact upon its literature and since the seventeenth-century, the Irish society suffered from the duality of two traditions. This duality caused the cultural stress in the literary works that focused on four main elements, religion, land, language and identity. English colonisation changed Irish life as far as land, language and religion were concerned. As a result, two different kinds of literature appeared in Ireland during the eighteenth century, the English language printed literature known as the Anglo- Irish literature and the literature in the Irish language which was found in manuscripts. The first literature is the Anglo- Irish literature which was first used to describe the whole Irish literature written in English and later was used to describe the literature that is written by and to the Anglo- Irish Protestants of the eighteenth century.43 The Anglo-Irish literature was represented by Jonathan Swift (1667- 1745), Oliver Goldsmith (1728- 1774), and Edmund Burke (1729- 1797) who were Irish but lived in England and their works show their support to Ireland in the times of struggle with England. Their poems, letters, essays gave a precious picture of Ireland and their works also fought for the Irish rights.44 Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin and Aogán Ó Rathaille were among the notable writers of Irish literature. Along with poetry and prose, the lament tradition composed by female writers also appeared in the late eighteenth century like the works of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill in 1773.45The eighteenth century ended with the antiquarian revival which set the basis for the Irish romanticism. The antiquarian researchers wrote books, essays, and lectures that assisted the writers of the Irish romanticism to dig deep into the Irish past. Copying of manuscript continued during the nineteenth century and diaries written in Irish revolved around native and international events, personal biographies, plenty of information about everyday life, as well as literary writings.46At the end of the nineteenth century, Irish writing in English was influenced by the cultural nationalism that played a role in the foundation of the Gaelic Revival. It was founded by Douglas Hyde in 1893.47 This revival was interested in Irish language and persisted that the Irish language is connected to the Irish identity and that it should be developed and updated to be a mouthpiece of contemporary culture. As a result writing in all its forms became in Irish creating the basis for a new literature. Jonathan Culletonstates that the Gaelic revival was “an attempt by Irish writers and folklorists of the period to establish a sense of identity for the Irish at a time when its very status as a white European race was being interrogated as never before.”48The Irish Literary Renaissance appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century. Standish O’Grady’s writings dealt with people who yearned for the knights and heroes of Irelands Heroic Age. In an attempt to restore Irish literary and cultural traditions that have been weakened for hundreds of years by the Irish political control, the Irish literary revival wanted to build up a new Irish cultural identity depending on the Celtic mythology and the true experiences of the simple Irish people. 1.3- Irish TheatreWith the Anglo-Norman intrusions starting in the middle ages, theatres came to Ireland. Works based on the Bible like mystery plays and morality plays that functioned as sermons were all performed in the cities under the supervision of the church. Ireland remained Catholic even after the English control so religious drama continued strongly until the attack on the Irish civilisation by Cromwell.49 Irish theatre witnessed a transitional state, from the private entertainment, such as Gorboduc which was produced by Mountjoy in 1601, to the public performances in the Werburgh Street and the Smock Alley theatres. 50 Many playwrights appeared during the 1600’s like Thomas Southerne (1660- 1746), William Congreve (1670- 1727), Richard Steele (1672- 1729), Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719), and Susannah Centlivre (1667- 1723). Those playwrights wrote mainly in London for the London audience not to an Irish audience, yet what unites them all and makes them considered Irish playwrights were their commitments to the Irish identity.51 In 1637 the first Irish professional theatre was opened, the Werburgh Street Theatre, but it lasted only for four years. On this theatre, the first Irish play, St. Patrick for Ireland, written by the dramatist James Shirley (1596- 1666) in 1639, which was based on an original Irish subject was performed . Smock Alley, Dublin’s Theatre Royal, was opened in 1692, and the Irish playwrights began to gain a local place. After the Stuarts’ defeat, the Smock Alley theatre was reopened again and the first play to be staged there was Othello.52During 1940’s to 2000 many theatres appeared in Ireland like the Charabanc Theatre Company, and the Field Day Theatre which was established by Brian Friel and Stephan Rea in 1980. Other dramatists appeared as Brian Friel(1929- 2015), Tom Murphy (1935- ), Hugh Leonard (1926- 2009), John B. Keane (1928- 2002), Anne Devlin (1951- ), Christina Reid (1942- 2015) and Thomas Kilroy (1934- ). (Donelly, 154) The Irish dramatic writing saw a notable flow and success in the 1990’s with the writing of Marina Carr (1964- ) who is one of the few female dramatists whose works were produced at the Abbey, Sebastian Barry (1955- ), Marie Jones ( 1951- ), and Martin McDonagh (1970- ). (Ibid, Donelly, 154) The other theatres were The Rough Magic Theatre Company and The Druid Theatre (1975) with the production of Irish plays of well-known dramatists like Conor McPherson (1971- ) and Vincent Woods. (1960- ) 1.4- Irish Folklore, The Mirror of a Nation For being one of the elements of a nation, folklore is a difficult concept to identify or classify. During the eighteenth century the scholars defined everything related to the folk’s life as “popular antiquities or popular literature” but later in 1846 William Thomas replaced it with the term “folk-lore” meaning “the learning of the people”.53 There are many various definitions for folklore. George Gomme in 1890 described folklore as ” old beliefs, old customs, old memories, which depends on an unrecorded past.”53 To Gomme folklore is “handed down by tradition from generation to generation, the origin of which is unknown.”54 The well-known American folklorist, Archer Taylor defined folklore as the material that is passed on orally or by tradition and practice. He mentioned that folklore can be folktales, songs, riddles, or it can be objective entities like cross, knots. According to Taylor’s definition folklore can be a traditional gesture like throwing salt over one’s shoulders, all these to Taylor are folklore.55William Flint Thrall and Addison Hibbard believe that folklore is an integral part in the formation of nation’s identities. They describe folklore as: The comparison and identification of the survivals of archaic beliefs, customs, and tradition in modern ages….although concerned primarily with the psychology of early man or with that of the less cultured classes of society.56 Folklore is defined as “the mirror of culture”57 by Dundes. He sees that folklore is “an autobiographical ethnography” that presents a complete human picture, to him folklore is very important component in the human experience.58 The folklore of a nation speaks a lot about its culture, beliefs, traditions, way of thinking and living, and gives a picture of its past and future. Dundes describes it in his The Study of Folklore in Literature and Culture as the way that people of a certain nation see themselves.59folklore ( or traditional and popular culture) is the totalling of traditional-based creations of a cultural community, expressed by a group of individuals and recognized as reflecting the expectations of a community in so far as the reflect its cultural and social identity, its standards and values transmitted orally, by imitation or by other means. Its forms include, among others, language, literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, customs, handicrafts, architecture, and other arts.60In essence, folklore has three significant features; the body of knowledge, the mode of thought, and the mind of art which is a manifestation of culture and it works as ‘a bridge between two cultures’.61 It includes “myths, legends, stories, riddles, proverbs, nursery rhymes, charms, spells, omens, beliefs of all sorts, popular ballads, cowboys’ songs, plant lore, animal lore, and customs dealing with birth, initiation, courtship, marriage, death, and work and amusement.62The study of folklore is divided into two categories, the literary and the anthropological and each has its own methodology of studying folklore. The first studies folklore in literature and the second studies folklore in culture. Yet, in essence, studying folklore in literature or in culture are the same for in both of them a methodology is evenly applied to the literary and cultural problems.63 Accordingly, it is not possible to study literature without studying culture.Because folklore is a “pervasive aspect of life”64, many literary works contain components that are taken from folklore, thus this kind of literature is called folk literature. Folk literature is divided into two modes, prose mode and poetry mode. The prose mode includes folk tales, legends, myths, fables, fairy tales, animal stories, ghost stories, folk dramas, riddles, allusions and proverbs. While the literary mode embraces ballads, songs, lullabies, rhymes, metaphors, parodies, and poetic sayings.65 All forms of literature encompass the use of folklore whether poetry, novel and drama. Consequently, authors use folklore to make the world familiar with their nation’s beliefs, customs and cultural traditions.Folklore is one of the features that play a role in the creation of a nation’s identity. Ireland is one of the most distinguished nations that managed to conserve its identity alive through folklore. After the sever circumstances that Ireland went through which led to the destruction of its identity, several attempts were made to regain Irish independence. The literary attempt was among these attempts and was influential. All of the elements of folklore play an integral part in constituting a nation’s identity. Thus, any cultural independence is, “of far great importance than political freedom when the soul of the nation is enslaved”.66The distressed history of Ireland especially during the nineteenth century was the reason of the rising interest in Irish cultural tradition. Many nationalists focused on cultural nationalism in an attempt to bring Ireland together. The Irish themselves comprehended that “the political vacuum was to be filled with the cultural and artistic pursuits. This awakening culminated with the foundation of both the Gaelic League and the Irish Literary Revival. Wendy Reich in his The Use of Folklore in Revitalization Movements1971 said ” … in periods of rapid social change, folklore can be seen as an agent of change in that it proves a sanction and rationale of change”.67Thus, folklore played a significant role in the growth of these movements then it was equally considered an essential source in the development of the Irish cultural independence.There were writers who contributed to the establishment of Irish dramatic literature through the reference to Irish history, folklore and legends to prove “that Ireland is not the home of buffoonery and of sentiment, as it has been presented, but the home of ancient idealism.”68W. B. Yeats (1856- 1939), the founder of Irish Literary Revival, was among the pioneers who used folklore in their works. In his works, he rebuilt Ireland’s heritage. His The Wanderings of Oisin (1889) was based on the Oisin legend to motivate people. His Cathleen ni Houlihan(1902) merged the mythical character of Cathleen with a true historical event.69 Lady Gregory Augusta (1852- 1923), an Irish playwright and a folklorist worked together with Yeats and Synge to establish the Irish National Theatre (1897) and later the Abbey Theatre Company (1904) where she wrote many of her plays. She was interested in Irish mythology and folklore. She translated many of Irish epics, in a collection that was published as Cuchulain of Muirthemne (1920) and Gods and Fighting Men (1975). In Cuchulain of Muirthemne, Lady Gregory wrote about the stories of the warriors of the Red Branch’s house. They were identical to the stories of the Nights of the Round Table. She dealt with mythical Irish kings in her play Kincora. (1905) Lady Gregory used folklore in her writings so as to stimulate the curiosity of the Irish towards their heritage and to awaken their national consciousness to build up their own national identity. John Millington Synge (1871- 1909) used folklore to mirror Irish society and its social malady. He adopted folklore to express modern themes and ideas. He based his use of folklore on his personal experience. In the Shadow of the Glen (1903), he used folktales which he gathered during his travel to the Aran-Islands. He used the character of Nora to attack the conventional kind of life, poverty, and the loneliness of Irish women. “It is one of the cleverly written and ably constructed one-act drama, of modern times”, as Allardyce Nicoll described it (409). In his Deidre of the Sorrows (1910), Synge transformed mythical characters into real people.70 The play dealt with customs, beliefs, religious and communal obligations. His aim was to create a new man of a free will. There were other writers as William Boyle (1853- 1923), George Fitzmaurice (1885- 1940) and the young Padraic Colum (1881- 1972) who introduced the peasant play. 71 Sean O’Casey (1880- 1964), who wrote three plays that dealt with the Anglo Irish-war ( 1919-21), the civil war (1922- 23) and the Easter Rising of 1916 entitled as The Shadow Of Gunman (1923), Juno and the Paycock (1924) , and The Plough and the Stars (1926) were the main reason for his reputation.72 Other playwright were witnessed like George Shiels(1881- 1949), St. John Ervine (1880- 1964), Teresa Deevy (1894- 1963) and Lennox Robinson (1886- 1958). In their plays they echoed social concerns that are still being dealt with in the contemporary plays.73During the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, Irish playwrights moved to London to improve their financial status and for fame, like William Congreve, George Farquhar (1677- 1707), Oliver Goldsmith, Richard BrinsleySheridan (1751- 1816), and Dion Boucicault (1820- 1890).74 The European theatres became were large and wide enough for the performance of melodramas, operas and Shakespearian works. Ireland’s theatres of the nineteenth century in Dublin are the Gaiety, the Olympia and Belfast’s Opera House which was destroyed during the IRA attacks and was rebuilt.75Irish drama went through three different phases. As an English colony, Ireland lost its rich folklore and myths which was in a great need to be revived. The first phase started at the beginning of the twentieth-century with the establishment of the Abbey theatre by Synge, Lady Gregory and Yeats. Their theatre was used mainly to establish the Irish national identity and to demonstrate” the nationalist narrative of Irish political history.”56 The topics used by the first wave included folklore like myth and legends to reflect political issues, and issues related to the collective Irish cultural and national liberty and identity through art. Their aim was to dig in the past to create their individuality, as Patrick Duffy’s clarified: “our past and present views of Ireland and irishness have been shaped by reading its literature and art.”77 The second phase appeared after Ireland regained its independence in 1948. It included dramatists like Brian Friel(1929-2015), Tom Murphy (1935- ), Thomas Kilroy (1934- ) and Hugh Leonard (1926- 2009). Who discussed issues like disintegration of the self, the migration and the meaning of being cast out. For this group of writers “the more problematic and fragmented identity becomes the greater the need for imagery of wholeness.”78The third phase, called the new Renaissance, was totally different from the first two phases. Each dramatist has her/his own style. It included playwrights like Conor McPherson (1971- ), Martin McDonagh (1970- ), Marina Carr (1964- ), Sebastian Barry (1955- ) and others. They did not want to be assigned to any specific dramatic group. This phase created its provincial theatre. The dramatists looked for what they called individual identity so as to achieve the collective one. They wanted “to discover the identity of the divided self.”79 They urged people to believe in their humanness more that their irishness which is in return would empower them to establish the collective national identity. Drama is an integral part of Ireland’s literary body of work and its best contributions to the drama of the world were the works of its famous playwrights like Oscar Wilde (1854- 1900). Of his well-known works were An Ideal Husband (1859), Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893) and his famous comedy written in English The Importance of Being Ernest (1895). George Bernard Shaw (1856- 1950), the first Nobel Prize for literature, dealt with various themes like war, religion, poverty, gender, and class. He wrote Arms the Man (1894), The Devil’s Disciple (1897), Candida (1894), man and Superman (1903), the Doctor’s Dilemma (1906), Pygmalion (1913), and Saint John (1923). and John Bull’s Other Island (1904).80In 1903 the Irish National Theatre Society was named the Abbey theatre. The first play to be performed there was Yeats’s mythical play On Baile’s Strand (1903) and Lady Gregory’s comedy Spreading the News (1904).81 The Irish National Theatre society was a source of pride and identity. It staged Irish plays by Irish playwrights about Irish themes. In the first place, the Irish National Theatre produced plays in the Irish language, but they were not successful, thus most of the dramatic productions of that time were in English. Later various attempts were made to encourage the use of Irish Gaelic language like the Irish language theatre in Galway known as Taibhdhearc naGaillimhe, which was more successful with translations from other languages.82 Another theatre in Dublin in the 1950’s was known as Gael-Linn. It produced plays in Irish language and Brendan Behan’s An Gial (1958) (The Hostage) was performed there.83In 1928 Michael MacLiammóir with Hilton Edwards established Dublin Gate Theatre. It embraced the classics in the works of modern dramatists such as Henrick Ibsen (1828- 1906), Eugene O’Neill (1888- 1953) and Jean Cocteau (1889- 1963).84As for the drama of modern Ireland, new theatre traditions were being inspired by the Irish Literary Theatres in the south, the Ulster Literary Theatre was founded by Bulmer Hobson in (1902). After the Ulster Literary Theatre, the Ulster Group Theatre (1940) and the Lyrics Theatre (2011), became the drama’s foremost venue in Belfast.85 The Field Day Company staged Brian Friel’s Translations in 1980. Later the New Irish Literary Theatre (1974- 1982), introduced Irish plays and world classics to the cities and capitals.86Samuel Beckett (1906- 1989), the Nobel Prize winner 1969 and the Booker Prize known nowadays as the Man Booker Prize.87 He wrote Waiting for Godot (1954) that was first presented in the Pike’s Theatre and Endgame (1957) andHappy days (1961). His plays dealt with the isolation of man in a decaying world.87 Brendan Behan (1889- 1963) founded of the Pike Theatre in 1954.88 He wrote The Hostage in (1958). Marina Carr (1964) used folklore to discover Irish national identity. She adopted folklore to shaping cultural understanding of gender roles.89The Mai (1994) and By the Bog of Cats (1998) she used myth to upgrade gender equality as part of Irish collective identity.90 Conor McPherson (1971- ), Martin McDonaghue (1970- ), and Vincent Woods (1960- ) believed that Ireland had a great past deserved to have a great future.