Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change from 1970

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change from 1970

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change from 1970

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change from 1970

Synopsis

Roy Foster is one of Ireland's leading historians, the author of the much acclaimed two-volume biography of Yeats as well as the definitive history Modern Ireland, which has been hailed as "dazzling" (New York Times Book Review) and "elegant, erudite, wise, witty" (Irish Times). Now, this brilliant writer offers a "short and combative" account of Ireland's astonishing transformation over the last three decades.
Has there really been an "economic miracle"? Where does the explosion of cultural energy in music, literature, and theater come from? Has the power of the Catholic Church really crumbled? Focusing largely on contemporary events, living people, current controversies, and popular culture,Luckand the Irishexplores these questions and raises other provocative questions of its own. Foster looks at the astonishing volte-face undertaken by Sinn Fein, eventually taking office in a state they had once fought to destroy. He describes how Catholicism, once the bedrock of Irish identity, has been decisively compromised, as evidenced by the exploitation and abuse scandals and the drastic decline in devotions. At the same time, the position of women in Irish society has been transformed, with the growth of feminism, a revolution in sexual attitudes, far more women in the work force, the ascendancy of President Mary Robinson, and the movement of women to front-rank Cabinet posts--all of which have put the position of Irish women ahead of that in many European nations.
Many old molds have been broken in Irish society over the last 30 years, and the immediate results have been breath-taking. But are these developments really as permanent or even as beneficial as they appear? Everyone curious about the recent past, the burgeoning present, and the unclear future of Ireland will want to read this superbly written and deeply thoughtful book.

Excerpt

This book has its origins in the Wiles Lectures, delivered at Queen’s University Belfast in May 2004. The idea for the subject had come when I was, more or less simultaneously, asked if I would add a section to my book Modern Ireland 1600–1972, first published in 1988, taking the story up to the present; it did not take much thought to show me that what was needed was a new book rather than an addendum. I also found the astonishing transformation of Ireland after 1972 a subject of endless interest. However, I probably underestimated the task. Lytton Strachey’s remark that the history of the Victorian age could not be written because ‘we know too much about it’ might be adapted for Ireland since the 1960s. Though much of the period remains under a thirty-year rule as regards official records, there is already a huge literature of commentary, memoir, investigative records, statistical abstracts, sociological analysis and journalism, while for the early part of the period the admirable National Archives have already accumulated a treasure trove. In preparing the lectures three years ago, I scraped the surface; since then much more has come to light. The interim has also seen the publication of some firstrate general treatments of the period, in books by Terence Brown, Henry Patterson and Diarmaid Ferriter, and on television by Seán Ó Mórdha. The treatment that follows is necessarily thematic and selective.

In putting it together I owe debts to many people. I am grateful to

Terence Brown, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History 1922–2002 (London, 2004); Henry Patterson, Ireland since 1939: The Persistence of Conflict (Dublin, 2006); Diarmaid Ferriter, The Transformation of Ireland 1900–2000 (London, 2004); Seán Ó Mórdha, Seven Ages (RTÉ DVD, 2002).

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