Like it never happened? Imelda May, ambiguous amnesia and the gendering of post-Tiger narrative

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper focuses upon the emergence of the Dublin born musician, Imelda May, as a cultural icon in post-Tiger Ireland. May has become a significant figure in the recent socio-political remaking of ‘Irishness'.

The paper suggests May’s austerity celebrity embodies in part a return to what appear to be some of the pre-Tiger tropes of ‘Irishness’– the domestic; motherhood, the family; stoicism community and tradition. However, these tropes also seem chime with the ethos of neo-liberalism that apparently preceded it during the Tiger era. The paper argues that May’s celebrity plays upon an ambiguous (dis)continuity between pre-Tiger sentiment and Tiger era cool, and encompasses a processes whereby the ‘traditional’ ‘sentimental’ and ‘kitsch’ are reincorporated into the narratives of Irish austerity and the conceptualisation of Irish ‘selfhood’. May’s celebrity serves to illustrate the (dis)continuities between the Tiger era and post-Tiger austerity, simultaneously problematising but also legitimating the structural inequalities and ideological (re)constructions of Ireland's recent economic ‘past’.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017
EventGlobal Irish Diaspora Congress 2017 - University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 15 Aug 201719 Aug 2017


ConferenceGlobal Irish Diaspora Congress 2017
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