Modern literature in Irish
Modernist literature was developed further by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, a schoolmaster from Connemara, who was the Irish-language littérateur éngagé par excellence. He was not only active in the IRA - he spent the Emergency
years, - i.e. the years of the Second World War
- at a detention camp in Curach Chill Dara (Curragh, County Kildare
) together with other IRA men. At the camp, he wrote his modernist masterpiece, the novel Cré na Cille - "The Clay of the Churchyard". Reminiscent of some Latin American novels (notably Redoble por Rancas by Manuel Scorza, or Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo
), this novel is a chain of voices of the dead speaking from the churchyard, where they go on forever quarrelling about their bygone life in their village. The novel is a resounding refutation of the romantic view of the Gaeltacht
typical of the early years of the linguistic revival: Ó Cadhain shows clearly that there are social conflicts inside the Gaeltachtaí, too.
In addition to Cré na Cille, Máirtín Ó Cadhain wrote several collections of short stories (one "short" story, Fuíoll Fuine in the collection An tSraith dhá Tógáil, can count as a short novel): "Idir Shúgradh agus Dáiríre", "An Braon Broghach", "Cois Caoláire", "An tSraith dhá Tógáil", "An tSraith Tógtha", "An tSraith ar Lár". An important part of his writings are his journalism, essays, and pamphlets, that can be found in such collections as "Ó Cadhain i bhFeasta", "Caiscín", and "Caithfear Éisteacht".
Máirtín Ó Cadhain was a great stylistic innovator. Although his Irish was very much his native dialect - even in such contexts where a less dialectal style would have been appropriate - he was not afraid of enriching his Irish with constructed neologisms and loan words from other dialects including Scots Gaelic.