The Vanishing World of The Islandman

Narrative and Nostalgia

  • Máiréad Nic Craith

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literary Anthropology book series (PSLA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 1-18
  3. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 19-41
  4. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 43-61
  5. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 63-81
  6. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 83-101
  7. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 103-118
  8. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 119-140
  9. Máiréad Nic Craith
    Pages 141-159
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 161-187

About this book


‘The beauty of this book, crafted by Máiréad Nic Craith with sensitivity and dedication, is the insight provided into The Islandman (and its ilk) without claiming definitive answers or finally disambiguating its mysteries. It is a remarkable literary journey between island and world, tradition and modernity, materiality and nostalgia.’

—Nigel Rapport, Professor of Anthropological and Philosophical Studies, University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK

‘Ninety years after its first publication, Máiréad Nic Craith offers a welcome reexamination of Tomás Ó Criomhthain’s Blasket Island autobiography An t-Oileánach. Situating it within the wider contexts of early twentieth-century ethnographies and ethnographic theory, translation studies, the interface of orality and literacy, and the history of the book, Nic Craith shows how Ó Criomhthain’s book fits into the history of twentieth-century Western anthropology and literature.’

—Catherine McKenna, Margaret Brooks Robinson Professor of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, USA

Exploring An t-Oileánach (anglicised as The Islandman), an indigenous Irish-language memoir written by Tomás Ó Criomhthain (Tomás O'Crohan), Máiréad Nic Craith charts the development of Ó Criomhthain as an author; the writing, illustration, and publication of the memoir in Irish; and the reaction to its portrayal of an authentic, Gaelic lifestyle in Ireland. As she probes the appeal of an island fisherman’s century-old life-story to readers in several languages—considering the memoir’s global reception in human, literary and artistic terms—Nic Craith uncovers the indelible marks of Ó Criomhthain’s writing closer to home: the Blasket Island Interpretive Centre, which seeks to institutionalize the experience evoked by the memoir, and a widespread writerly habit amongst the diasporic population of the Island. Through the overlapping frames of literary analysis, archival work, interviews, and ethnographic examination, nostalgia emerges and re-emerges as a central theme, expressed in different ways by the young Irish state, by Irish-American descendants of Blasket Islanders in the US today, by anthropologists, and beyond.


Tomás Ó Criomhthain Ethnographic memoir Irish heritage Great Blasket Island Social life

Authors and affiliations

  • Máiréad Nic Craith
    • 1
  1. 1.Heriot-Watt UniversityEdinburghUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-25774-3
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-25775-0
  • Buy this book on publisher's site