Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Katherine Weiss

Committee Members

Karen L. Cajka, Thomas H. Crofts


By the beginning of the twentieth century, Ireland's identity was continually pulled between its loyalties to Catholicism and British imperialism. In response to this conflict of identity, W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory argued the need for an Irish theatre that was demonstrative of the Irish people, returning to the literary traditions to the Celtic heritage. What resulted was a questioning of religion and politics in Ireland, specifically the Catholic Church and its priests. Yeat's own drama removed the priests from the stage and replaced them with characters demonstrative of those literary traditions, establishing what he called a "new priesthood". In response to this removal, Yeat's contemporaries such as J. M. Synge and Bernard Shaw evolved his vision, creating a criticism and, ultimately, a rejection of Irish priests. In doing so, these playwrights created depictions of absent, ineffectual, and pagan priests that have endured throughout the twentieth century.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access


Copyright by the authors.