Unreconciled past still awkwardly close

Historian Irene Whelan considers the scale of an island wide reconciliation never mind unification the longer term context of an historical narrative that pitched Catholic and Protestant on course for mutually assured disruption (subs needed) – if not destruction. Paraphrasing Orwell she notes, “reconciliation in the present and future will most certainly be contingent upon reconciliation of the past”.

Fallout from clerical scandals and the exposure of abuse in Catholic-run institutions has shattered, if not destroyed, the almost organic connection between being Irish and Catholic that dominated the national consciousness for so long. The term “post-Catholic” thus gained vogue as a trendy description of contemporary Irish society in the last decade. Recent stinging criticism of President Mary McAleese’s interpretation of 1916 also suggests that it may soon be joined by “post-nationalist”. But how much of this is superficial glossing over of subjects that are at the heart of who we are as a collective? As we loosen our moorings from the traditional sanctities of faith and fatherland, on what terms are we going to define a new identity, especially if it is one that embraces the other tradition on the island?

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  • Great thread, it doesn’t get any better.
    When the colour of our religion
    is of no more significance
    than the colour of our eyes.


  • missfitz

    Isnt it interesting that this thread didnt attract many comments? I would need to go away for aday and come back with some cogent thoughts, but we really ought to be deepening and expanding our ideas on this subject

  • Dk

    I don’t have subs, but did the article extend the analogy to Northern Ireland. I can see myself from visiting the South that it has moved to a post-catholic state and I think that the reaction of most people to the Dublin riots (poorly attended and roundly condemned) shows that it is moving to post-nationalist as well.

    For NI, the politicians will do their best to prevent reteats from catholic or protestant, never mind us ever entering a post-nationalis/unionist state. The voting patterns seem to show that we are heading in the opposite direction – which would make even the nationalists in NI as much foreigners to the Republic as the unionists are at the moment.

    I personally put my hope in the decline of religion shown on censuses, which I hope will filter through, eventually, to the politicians. I also put some hope on immigration, which we are apparently starting to get. Even people from Britain and The Republic are going to dilute the current hard-line and move us closer to a post-nationalist/unionist future.