Ireland: Historical Echoes, Contemporary Politics

Ireland: Historical Echoes, Contemporary Politics

Ireland: Historical Echoes, Contemporary Politics

Ireland: Historical Echoes, Contemporary Politics

Synopsis

Incorporating extensive new research that allows him to make richer interpretations, Richard Finnegan considers such issues as the impact on church-state relations of the national referenda on divorce & abortion, the rise & fall of governments & political figures, the pathbreaking potential of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, & the effects on the country of changes in the European Community.

Excerpt

A visitor to Ireland, like Caesar encountering Gaul, will discover at least three Irelands. On this small island can be found some of the most attractive tourist areas in Europe. the jutting cliffs of Moher rival those of the Algarve in Portugal. the Ring of Kerry enchants the eye with its panoramic vistas of mountain and sea. the brooding Carlingford peninsula is redolent with Irish myth and legend. There is a mystique and intimacy to the Irish landscape that provides escape and inspiration to the world-weary traveler. Indeed, within easy reach--often just around the bend or across a field fence--a visual tapestry unfolds: Megalithic tombs, medieval monasteries, Norman tower houses, and Georgian estates. a tour through the west brings one in touch with a slower pace, from the traditional pubs and sessions of County Clare to the remote fishing ports and headlands of Donegal. Much the same spirit of discovery can be found on the urban scene. in Dublin one can sample the treasures of the National Museum, productions at the Abbey Theatre, the Dublin horse show, the Book of Kells at Trinity College, and the narrow streets and trendy shops of Temple Bar--all combined with the warm hospitality of the Irish people.

Another Ireland is that of the Irish people, different from the whirlwind Ireland of the tourist. Although the Ireland of traditional small farms still lingers on in part, a new diversity is apparent on the rural landscape. One can find prosperous Irish farmers driving Land-Rovers and air-conditioned combine harvesters, organic homesteaders from Germany and Holland, and locals trying their hand at chocolate making or ostrich farming, to mention but a few. Dublin, befitting its cosmopolitan persona, likewise plays host to a broad spectrum of people: urban professionals, brightly clad buskers, new immigrants from Romania and Somalia, working class families who seem to spill out of a Roddy Doyle novel, and an army of students drawn to Dublin like pilgrims to Mecca. Ireland is above all a youthful culture. Everywhere there are young people--mobile phone at the ready--who are influenced more by continental Europe, techno-pop, and computers than by the rural agrarian roots of their parents or grandparents.

The quintessential feel of present-day Ireland is change. During the 1990s Ireland enjoyed a booming economy, one that has brought an excitement of possibilities. Jobs abound in high tech and tourism. New housing developments . . .

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