“THE LIFE OF HUGH O’NEILL CAN BE TOLD IN MANY WAYS”: THE POLITICS OF INTERTEXTUALITY IN THOMAS KILROY’S THE O’NEILL AND BRIAN FRIEL’S MAKING HISTORY

Posted On Oct 17 2011 by

The historical persona of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, who led the last Gaelic rebellion against the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland, has accrued contradictory meanings from the late 16th-century onwards. Vilified in Anglo-Irish chronicles as traitor and rebel, he was construed as a mythic hero by the nationalist discourse. Given the persistence of this ambiguity in colonial writings, contemporary Irish playwrights attempt to dismantle traditional representations of the Ulster chieftain, re-constructing him in accordance to a post-colonial agenda. Both Thomas Kilroy’s The O’Neill and Brian Friel’s Making History employ intertextuality in order to question the mechanics of historical definition through which previous texts like …