Blackness and Transatlantic Irish Identity analyzes the long history of imagined and real relationships between the Irish and African-Americans since the mid-nineteenth century in popular culture and literature. Irish writers and political activists have often claimed - and thereby created - a "black" identity to explain their experience with colonialism in Ireland and revere African-Americans as a source of spiritual and sexual vitality. Irish-Americans often resisted this identification so as to make a place for themselves in the U.S. However, their representation of an Irish-American identity pivots on a distinction between Irish-Americans and African-Americans. Lauren Onkey argues that one of the most consistent tropes in the assertion of Irish and Irish-American identity is constructed through or against African-Americans, and she maps that trope in the work of writers Roddy Doyle, James Farrell, Bernard MacLaverty, John Boyle O’Reilly, and Jimmy Breslin; playwright Ned Harrigan; political activists Bernadette Devlin and Tom Hayden; and musicians Van Morrison, U2, and Black 47.
1. Introduction: "Aren’t We a Little White for That Kind of Thing?" 2. "A Representative Americanized Irishman": John Boyle O’Reilly 3. Melees 4. Bernadette’s Legacy 5. Ray Charles on Hyndford Street: Van Morrison’s Caledonian Soul 6. Born Under a Bad Sign. Conclusion: Micks for O’Bamagh.