Northside Realism
: Critique or Illusion?


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The image of Dublin as a city of two halves is prevalent in contemporary Irish culture. This thesis interrogates the literal boundaries of Ireland’s capital and explores ways in which the physical boundaries of the city manifest in the cultural divisions of the communities of Dublin. There is a focus on the Northside of the city and the stigma that is the result of uneven geographies of neoliberal development in Ireland’s capital. The thesis examines the politics of the fictional narrative structures of the plays of three prominent figures in Irish theatre who use the Northside as a setting for their work; Paul Mercier, Roddy Doyle and Dermot Bolger. The work of these playwrights coincides with the rise and fall of the much-documented economic phenomena of the Celtic Tiger. Examination of these texts reveal the construction of class identity in within contemporary Irish neoliberal ideology and narratives that reify or resist this ideology. This thesis draws on the positionality of myself, the researcher, and my experience of growing up, on the Northside of Dublin, in Ballymun during Europe’s largest urban regeneration of the area. This original insight explores my experience living in a shifting landscape while being afforded the unique opportunity to perform leading roles in the world premieres of plays by internationally renowned playwright Dermot Bolger. This thesis uses an original critical matrix to dissent from dominant criticism of the plays by the three key playwrights and offers an original critique of the narrative structures that empower or oppress the lower and working classes in neoliberal Ireland and divide Ireland’s capital city.
Date of Award18 Sept 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorVICTOR MERRIMAN (Director of Studies) & Lena Simic (Director of Studies)


  • Dublin,
  • Ireland,
  • Dermot Bolger
  • Roddy Doyle,
  • Paul Mercier,
  • Ballymun,
  • Neoliberalism

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