Jenny Farrell recently hosted the online launch of a new book. From the Plough to the Stars, an anthology of prose from contemporary Ireland is a follow-up to Children of the Nation, an anthology of poetry published by Culture Matters last year. Here, she introduces an edited video of the launch, made by Eoin McDonnell
History fails to record the experience of the working people. Instead, the thrust of history writing is determined by the paymaster's point of view, which excludes the perspective of those who fight and die, who do the work, who dream of and struggle for a better life. Apart from establishment history, there is the story of the working people, and so, distinct from the mainstream, there is a second culture, reflecting the working-class experience. What we find here are not the stereotypes of working people typical of ruling-class literature and art, but real characters: not the pastoral, but the anti-pastoral.
From the Plough to the Stars presents a diverse set of characters. It is a group that will ultimately rise above the inferior station assigned to them by society, and who will seek to create a just society for all. In the words of James Connolly describing the Starry Plough banner:
A free Ireland will control its own destiny, from the plough to the stars.
It is apt, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, that the true value and critical importance of workers' contributions to our communities, worldwide, takes centre stage. These contributions expose the parasitical captains of industry and their fellow travellers in global finance.
- Gerry Murphy, President, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Jenny Farrell is a lecturer, writer and an Associate Editor of Culture Matters.