•  
  •  
 

Abstract

This article examines deprivedmale migrants’ conceptions and performative expressions of hegemonic masculinity in Ireland.It explores their widespread propensity to develop hypermasculine self-images based on ideals of cultural loyalty and economic prosperity that are, in fact, compensatory for their sense of emasculation, marginalization and social failure as a result of economic difficulties within their host societies.The first section surveys perceptions and preconceptions about migrant men and young male immigrants in a variety of Irish media, political and social discourses. The second section considers recent research and the development of theoretical perspectives about migrant masculinity in Ireland. In the third section, it is argued that these broad discourses and preconceptions are accentuated and encapsulated in a corpus of Irish theatre and film productions, such as Jimmy Murphy’s play about Irish emigrants in London,The Kings of the Kilburn High Road (2001), which was subsequently adapted by Tom Collins in the Irish language film Kings (2007). Bisi Adigun’s Arambe Productions has appropriated and complicated the Kings of the Kilburn High Road storyline in turn. Adigun reenacted the play withWest African immigrants rather than Irish emigrants in London (2006). He subsequently adapted its storyline to a contemporary London setting in Home, Sweet Home (performed in Lagos, 2010), and then he reset the play in Dublin with an African-Irish immigrant cast in The Paddies of Parnell Street (2013). In these different versions of the Kings plotline, ideals of migrant masculinity, the image of the “alien” and the meaning of the play/film perceptibly shift depending on whether it is performed by an English-speaking Irish cast, a cast of Irish-language speakers, or an African immigrant cast in Arambe’s productions. Yet, together, these works suggest that immigrants to Ireland and returning Irish emigrants, as well as marginalized Gaelic speakers, face similar gender specific constraints in achieving recognition and gaining acceptance in modern Irish society. Each version is based on competing conceptions and performances of hegemonic masculinity that come into conflict at the culmination of the plot’s development. Both on stage and on screen, they give expression to migrant masculine ideals in Ireland that are defined by wider political and social tensions which they seek to resolve in their respective performances.

Share

COinS