This book is about the relationship between the past and the present in Irish society, and the ways in which Irish identities have been shaped by oral tradition, icons and images, rituals and re-enactments. It examines pivotal moments in Irish history, such as the 1798 rebellion, the Famine, the Great War, and the Northern Ireland troubles, investigating the ways in which they have been recalled, commemorated and mythologised. Beginning with the conviction that commemoration has its own history, the essays address questions concerning the workings of communal memory. How have particular political and social groups interpreted, appropriated and distorted the past for their own purposes? How are collective memories transmitted from one generation to the next? Why does collective amnesia work in some situations and not in others? What is the relationship between academic history and popular memory? Such questions are central to the study of nationalism and national identity, the 'invention of tradition', post-colonial studies and the development of the heritage industry, as well as ongoing debates on Irish historiography and current cultural politics on both sides of the border. The range of contributors is interdisciplinary and international, and includes many of Ireland's leading historians and literary critics.