Siobhan Dowd’s novel Bog Child explores a legacy of self-sacrifice in Ireland. From a contemporary context, it explores the second hunger strike of Long Kesh prison in the 1980s and a fictionalised famine in the first century as a more ancient example. Using Kathleen Jamie’s notion of ‘surfacing’ and Oona Frawley’s ‘memory cruxes’ as launching points to explore Bog Child, this paper works to illuminate how these temporally distant events are intricately connected through an extended history of self-sacrifice and hunger in Ireland. In the process, it also explores how, in that extended history, gendered notions have crept in, how they are reinforced and how they can be challenged. Bog Child is at its core a novel about the repetition of history, and particularly of historical cultural trauma, but one that ultimately works to offer a compassionate end to this repetition, as the paper will conclude.
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