Routes Irish: 'Irishness', 'Authenticity' and the Working Class in the Films of Ken Loach

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Although the filmmaker Ken Loach possesses a reputation for dealing with Irish politics and history in his films and television plays, his portrait of the Irish in Britain has been much less commented upon. This article indicates how a discourse of ‘Irishness’ is threaded through his work set in England and Scotland and how this involves appealing to Irish-Catholic elements of working-class experience as a means of reinforcing the sense of ‘authenticity’ and working-class disadvantage that is the hallmark of his work. At the same time, it also involves invoking the working-class camaraderie and, in some cases, political resistance that is prompted by social and economic inequality. In this respect, Loach’s films may be seen to rely on relatively familiar images of the Irish – variants of the ‘slum Irish’ and the ‘fighting Irish’ – while simultaneously complicating conventional understandings of the ‘British’ working class.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-109
JournalIrish Studies Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2011

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