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Abstract

In recent years Irish society has witnessed an upheaval in public opinion before the discovery of conspiracies of silence hiding stories of institutional abuse which had remained concealed from the public domain. These narratives of secrecy have been consistently identified and stripped away by writers like Emer Martin whose novel The Cruelty Men (2018) denounces the fact that forgetting and silence are woven into the fabric of society and politics in Ireland. Drawing on the notion of consensual silence, the article explores The Cruelty Men as a text that addresses institutional abuse and challenges official discourses by rescuing the unheard voices of the victims and inscribing their untold stories into the nation’s cultural narrative. As the article will discuss, ultimately the novel calls attention to the healing power of storytelling as a way of renegotiating  Ireland’s relationship with the silences of the past.