Jenny Farrell introduces From the Plough to the Stars: An Anthology of Working People’s Prose from Contemporary Ireland
“The cooks, the cleaners, the porters: unsung heroes on the frontline” cried an Irish newspaper headline in early May 2020. During the pandemic it has become clear that whatever else fails, a society cannot function without the working class. The underlying inequalities of our class-divided society have been laid bare by the coronavirus, including the ways in which working-class histories, experiences and values have never been adequately represented in Irish national cultural life.
So it is particularly timely that Clare Daly MEP is about to launch a unique anthology of prose by Irish working-class writers. There are 50 contributions from the whole island of Ireland, driving home the fact that their life experience as working people is the same, no matter where on the island they live, on which side of the border, rural or urban, female or male, younger or older, writing in Irish or English.
The common focus is on themes which reflect the texture and preoccupations of working-class life in contemporary Ireland. The writers create a complex and varied image of Irish working people today, one that challenges conventional stereotypes of their class.
The anthology is edited by Jenny Farrell, has a foreword by Gerry Murphy, President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and it has been generously supported and promoted by the Irish labour movement.
It is the follow-up volume to Children of the Nation: An Anthology of Working People’s Poetry from Contemporary Ireland, published by Culture Matters in 2019.