Ireland’s referendum and the journey from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft
This chapter examines the implications for Irish Catholicism that the ‘Yes’ vote in the May 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage may have for the social and cultural position of the Catholic church in contemporary Ireland and in the future. His analysis channels the thinking of Ferdinand Tönnies, an early German sociologist and a contemporary of Durkheim and Weber, who used the German words ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’ to distinguish between two fundamentally different structural paradigms for social relations. O’Brien sees marriage as a core ideological signifier of ideological hegemony, and using the fantasy fiction of Terry Pratchett’s satire on religion entitled Small Gods as a lens, he looks at the referendum as a significant turning point in the definition of marriage, and by extension, in the transformation Irish society from the organic community of the Gemeinschaft, to the more postmodern and pluralist notion of the Gesellschaft.
The cultural unconscious of the Celtic Tiger in the writings of Paul Howard
Eugene O'Brien argues that the cultural unconscious of the Celtic Tiger is to be found in the humorous narratives of Paul Howard and his fictional Celtic Tiger cub, Ross O'Carroll-Kelly. Freud has noted that ‘the realm of jokes has no boundaries’ and it is in humour that the repressed Lacanian ‘Real’ of the Celtic Tiger can be made to return. The satirical depiction of gross over-development of property, conspicuous consumption and illegal business deals captures what could be seen as the essence of this period far better than socio-economic or legal documentation, which are never able to access the lived, felt experience. This chapter traces the connections between the hilarious events of the stories and the actual parallel events of the Celtic Tiger, and makes the point that Ross is very much a synecdoche for the reality of this period, as when it is revealed that there is ‘a hundred grand missing’ from Ross and Sorcha‘s current account, it is Ross who says ‘I, er…well, I bought a couple of apartments. In Bulgaria’. Here the casual ease with which property, the ultimate commodity fetish of a certain class of people during this period, is bought, encapsulates, more than any government report, the ‘real’ of this time.
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.
This book examines the phenomenon of the rise and fall of the Irish Celtic Tiger from a cultural perspective. It looks at Ireland's regression from prosperity to austerity in terms of a society as opposed to just an economy. Using literary and cultural theory, it looks at how this period was influenced by, and in its turn influenced, areas such as religion, popular culture, politics, literature, photography, gastronomy, music, theatre, poetry and film. It seeks to provide some answers as to what exactly happened to Irish society in the past few decades of boom and bust. The socio-cultural rather than the purely economic lens it uses to critique the Celtic Tiger is useful because society and culture are inevitably influenced by what happens in the economic sphere. That said, all of the measures taken in the wake of the financial crash sought to find solutions to aid the ailing economy, and the social and cultural ramifications were shamefully neglected. The aim of this book therefore is to bring the ‘Real’ of the socio-cultural consequences of the Celtic Tiger out of the darkness and to initiate a debate that is, in some respects, equally important as the numerous economic analyses of recent times. The essays analyse how culture and society are mutually-informing discourses and how this synthesis may help us to more fully understand what happened in this period, and more importantly, why it happened.