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Animals in Irish Literature and Culture by Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Borbála Faragó

By Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Borbála Faragó

Animals in Irish Literature and tradition spans the early sleek interval to the current, exploring colonial, post-colonial, and globalized manifestations of eire as kingdom and kingdom in addition to the human animal and non-human animal migrations that problem quite a few literal and cultural borders.

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Moreover, the end of the hunt depicted here also gives the lie to the inherent reasonableness of the chase the discourse so often evokes by blurring the boundaries between Cartesian constructions separating humans and animals: the hunters are depicted as giving in to the unreasonable pleasures of killing – the ‘scream upon scream’ and the squeal both seem to relinquish human language. If we object that the Comte de Pralines is meant as a satiric example of how not to hunt and kill a fox, his behaviour an acting out in both rank and activity of the previous century’s open revelry in the blood sport, we must ask how then the killing might best be done?

17 Here hunters responsible for the killing are transformed into benefactors preserving the species; the best bargain an animal can hope to make is to provide an instrumental use. Contemporary foxhunters are fond of using D. W. ’18 Thus, the discourse of fox-hunting, then 30 Animals in Irish Literature and Culture as now, grants foxes no more than what hunters regard as their due: the chance of escape or an ‘honourable’ death by the chase. While it is beyond the scope of this essay to chart a thorough history of fox-hunting discourse, Stringer’s text helps us to see some of its salient features: first, its reliance on and reinforcement of a class hierarchy masquerading as the maintenance of a natural order of communal bonds, and second, its shoring up of species hierarchies inscribing human exceptionalism whereby all animals are valued according to their relative usefulness to (some) humans.

Barnard, Grand Figure, 243. 22. Landry, Invention, 12. 23. See Kelly, Sport, 137–42; also Barnard, Grand Figure, 244. 24. C. Lewis (1975) Hunting in Ireland (London: J. A. Allen), 44; 46. 25. Viney incorporates Arthur Young’s observations in 1780 as to the changes in land management in the east of the country. Viney, ‘Wild Sports’, 537. Lucy Collins 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 25 Kelly, Sport, 148. Carpenter and Collins, Irish Poet, 226. Carpenter and Collins, 126.

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