From the Famine to political hunger strikes, from telling tales in the pub to Beckett's tortured utterances, the performance of Irish identity has always been deeply connected to the oral. Exploring how colonial modernity transformed the spaces that sustained Ireland's oral culture, this book explains why Irish culture has been both so creative and so resistant to modernization. David Lloyd brings together manifestations of oral culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, showing how the survival of orality was central both to resistance against colonial rule and to Ireland's modern definition as a postcolonial culture. Specific to Ireland as these histories are, they resonate with postcolonial cultures globally. This study is an important and provocative new interpretation of Irish national culture and how it came into being.