Current Affairs

The Lord Of The Rings And Ireland

J.R.R. Tolkien in his study with a map of Middle-earth
J.R.R. Tolkien in his study with a map of Middle-earth

Journalist Ciarán Dunbarr has a quick overview in Nós Mag of the alleged relationship between the English Fantasy author JRR Tolkien and the region of An Boireann in the west of Ireland. The latter apparently inspired Tolkien’s imaginative world of Middle-earth – or so some locals have claimed in recent years. In fact the links with Tolkien are fairly tenuous and the “inspiration” even more so (Tolkien of course first visited Ireland in 1949 long after the Hobbit was published and the Lord of the Rings committed to paper). While the Burren Tolkien Society can be congratulated on its ingenuity and energy in setting up a local Tolkien festival, a worthwhile event in itself, one questions the need for some of the more dramatic PR stories that surround it. Ciarán quotes my own opinion on the matter and I agree with his summation that a rather weak declaration of fame-by-association with the works of a foreign writer’s imagination is somewhat hollow when compared to so much of Ireland’s own mythological traditions which can be found in the history of one of the most beautiful and welcoming parts of our country.

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