Irish Literature and Folklore Quiz
What was the name of Ireland's greatest epic herothe Irish Achilles?
- Cuchulain (pronounced koo-HUL-an), featured in the Ulster cycle, single-handedly (though he did have seven fingers on each hand) defended Ulster from Queen Maeve and the warriors of Connaught. Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Thomas Kinsella, among others, featured Cuchulain in their works. (A Toaiseach is the name of an Irish prime minister.)
Which of the following literary figures was also an Irish Senator?
- In addition to becoming one of the 20th century's greatest poets, Yeats was also an Irish senator (1922-1928), and his image appears on the Irish twenty-pound note.
What is a banshee?
- A banshee is a keening female spirit. The term comes from the Gaelic sidhe, pronounced she, which is a race of fairies.
What are Silkies?
- Silkies, related to mermaids, are seal people, and were featured in John Sayles's film, "The Secret of Roan Inish."
What is the Gaeltacht?
- The Gaeltacht is the native Irish-speaking portion of the island. The Irish Language nearly died out after the potato famine and consequent emigration. Although its study is required in school, only in some western portions of the countrythe Gaeltachtis it commonly spoken at home.
Which of the following plays caused a near-riot at the Abbey Theater when, among other blasphemies, the word "shift" (as in a woman's undergarment) was uttered on stage?
- Synge's Playboy (1907) created an uproar because of its so-called scandalous language as well as its subject matter, which was thought to present the God-fearing Irish in a less-than-virtuous light. The Belfast Morning News reported: "A torrent of execration has been the nightly reward of the actors who strive to represent a murderer, an idiot, some vulgar, shameless, unnatural viragoes with the souls and tongues of strumpets, and a medley of drunken mindless brutes, as typical peasants of the Gaelic County of Mayo. . . " A "playboy" in this context means an adventurer or hero.
What did James Joyce refer to as the "center of paralysis?"
- Joyce had a love/hate relationship with Dublin (see Bloomsday)
Which of the following are NOT famous islands of the coast of Ireland?
- The Orkney Islands are Scottish. The Aran Islands are the setting of many of Synges's plays and the tiny Blasket Islands have produced several Irish writers. Both are part of the Gaeltacht (see #6). The rocky, remote Skellig Islands are the home of a famous medieval monastery dating back to the 7th century.
What power do those who kiss the Blarney stone gain?
- Kissing the Blarney stone imbues a person with the gift of eloquent speech, although some people write this off as a bunch of blarney.
Which of the following is NOT true of a leprechaun:
- Being a leprechaun is strictly a male profession.