Invention and identity are close kindred in the cultural history of modern Ireland. When Declan Kiberd remarked at the outset of his monumental reading of Irish literature (significantly entitled Inventing Ireland) that ‘the struggle for [Irish] identity was conducted in language’, he gave due priority to that synthesis of invention and identification that periodically surfaces in the Irish mind ever since a mercenary in one of Shakespeare’s plays paused to enquire, ‘what ish my nation?’.1 Four hundred years later, the brogue has been smoothly polished away, but it cannot have escaped many people’s attention (at least in Ireland) that we are still asking the same question. It seems to be a perennial condition of Irish studies, and not only for the duration of what David Lloyd has called Ireland’s ‘post-colonial moment’, to revisit and revise the parameters of Irishness itself.2