We’re uncommonly gifted in the realms of music, sport and literature.
We’re a clatter of land-mad peasants afflicted with racial famine memories who got suckered wholesale by property developers, builders, banksters and mortgage mafiosi.
Many of these essays cover familiar ground – nationalism, emigration, postcolonialism, Catholicism – but the majority assert that we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the Irish condition.
Certain of these dispatches – by Sinisa Malesevic, for one – calmly dismantle the notion that we’re any different from other nations.
No wonder Irish studies are an international industry.
, a collection of essays by prominent academics and sociologists, edited by Tom Inglis, a professor at University College Dublin, suggests not that we don’t talk enough about our collective identity but that we’re often found discussing the wrong subjects.
, warns that, after generations of widespread denial and systemic complicity, the pendulum may have swung too far in the other direction: “In the aftermath of the disclosures of abuse of countless children by Catholic clergy, we have not so much transcended as inherited a new state of fear and oppression in Ireland.
This time it is not the Church hierarchy that is to be feared but rather a new state of fear has been born that is based on an approach to children, families and ‘child protection’ that, far from bringing forth a safer society for children or a new state of well-being for victims of abuse, has rendered all men as suspects and a generation of children denied the love of men.” It is a statement that will be read with a wry eye by any single or separated father who has had to petition the courts for “access” or “visiting rights” to his children.
It’s worth remembering that corporal punishment was banned in Irish schools only as late as 1982.
Is it coincidence that the young entrepreneurs and hip London expats who emerged over the following decade might well have been the first generation of Irish schoolchildren who were not roared at, beaten or told they were worthless on a weekly basis?