Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism

From Galway to Cloyne and beyond

Eamon Maher
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Eugene O’Brien
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This book engages with the spectacular disenchantment with Catholicism in Ireland over the relatively short period of four decades. It begins with the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 and in particular his address to young people in Galway, where the crowd had been entertained beforehand by two of Ireland’s most celebrated clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary, both of whom were engaged at the time in romantic affairs that resulted in the birth of children. It will be argued that the Pope’s visit was prompted by concern at the significant fall in vocations to priesthood and the religious life and the increasing secularism of Irish society.

The book then explores the various referenda that took place during the 1980s on divorce and abortion which, although they resulted in victories for the Church, demonstrated that their hold on the Irish public was weakening. The clerical abuse scandals of the 1990s were the tipping point for an Irish public which was generally resentful of the intrusive and repressive form of Catholicism that had been the norm in Ireland since the formation of the State in the 1920s.

Boasting an impressive array of contributors from various backgrounds and expertise, the essays in the book attempt to delineate the exact reasons for the progressive dismantling of the cultural legacy of Catholicism and the consequences this has had on Irish society. Among the contributors are Patricia Casey, Joe Cleary, Michael Cronin, Louise Fuller, Patsy McGarry, Vincent Twomey and Eamonn Wall.

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‘A new book on the issue, Tracing the Cultural Legacy of Irish Catholicism, is highly readable…this timely study is to be recommended.'
Mark Patrick Henderman is a monk of Glanstal Abbey in Limerick
The Irish Times
May 2017

‘Maher and O'Brien, who lectures in English Language and Literature at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, have assembled a fascinating series of contributions. In most chapters, the writing and argumentation are accessible to both popular and academic audiences.'
Gladys Ganiel

‘We've heard the constituent elements of the process denied and exaggerated ad nauseam but this book provides them with a context and an analysis that raises the debate to another level y providing thirteen articles, mainly by academics, that help to interpret what's happened, what's happening and what may happen in the future to the 'lost legacy' of a Catholic culture…For anyone interested in the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism, this book is a must-read.'
Brendan Hoban, priest of the Diocese of Killala.
The Furrow, Vol. 68, No. 9
September 2017

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