Combining Law & Poetry: The Potential of Comics to Interpret Division in Ireland

Fionnuala Doran

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    In this paper I address the representation of the 1916 Irish Rising and the subsequent partition of Ireland and sectarian conflict through comics. I will refer to my own graphic novel, The Trial of Roger Casement, and the depiction of the protagonist’s journey from a respected, knighted human-rights advocate at the outbreak of war in 1914 to his execution for treason in 1916, at the height of British patriotic fervour. His mission—to seek political and military assistance for the Irish independence movement from Germany, the primary rival to Britain for European dominance—was thrown into chaos by the outbreak of hostilities. The paper examines the challenges and opportunities of using the graphic novel form to depict Irish conflict and civil-war in the 20th Century, the interpretation and legal basis of which has been constantly disputed and reinterpreted on both sides of the border. The combination of word and image and disregard for taxonomical distinctions within the comic-book provides the ability to blur the lines between objective and subjective truths, and offers a multiplicity of meanings and interpretations to the reader. This multiplicity of meanings can mitigate against clarity, particularly legal clarity. The graphic novel may provide a way for creators to engage with the issues inherent in such a small island’s division into two very different states without becoming overwhelmed by the weight of history, offering the potential to deal with socio-political themes in a way that can combine history and law with poetry. I will also look at the approach of other creators to conflict in Ireland in a new breed of graphic novels. This will include Sean Charleton’s ‘James Conolly: The Irish Rebel’, Garth Ennis and John McCrea’s Troubled Souls and For a Few Troubles More. Related links:
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2017
    EventSocio-Legal Studies Association annual conference 2017 - Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Apr 20176 Apr 2017


    ConferenceSocio-Legal Studies Association annual conference 2017
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    CityNewcastle upon Tyne


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