Irish priests and the unravelling of a culture

This chapter takes a number of priests with a public profile and examines the extent to which they are prophetic voices or complicit functionaries. Choosing the French priest-writer Jean Sulivan (1913-1980) as a comparator, Eamon Maher examines the published work of Joseph Dunn, Vincent Twomey, Mark Patrick Hederman and Brendan Hoban, before concluding that they all share the prophetic tendency of raising uncomfortable and often unpopular issues while remaining within the institution. He further argues that being so closely aligned to the Church makes it difficult, and professionally dangerous, for priests to criticise certain practices within the institution. However, while retaining a huge love of, and devotion to, the main tenets of Catholicism, these men nevertheless feel obliged to point out things that are going wrong, even when expressing such views can often involve them in conflict with their superiors at home and in Rome.

in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism
The Catholic Church during the Celtic Tiger Years

This chapter traces the role of the Catholic Church in the Celtic Tiger period. It interrogates the commonly-held view that the Celtic Tiger hastened a wave of aggressive secularism that proved injurious to organised religion in Ireland. It argues that Catholicism's grip on Irish society was on the wane long before the advent of the Celtic Tiger.Charting the socio-cultural position of the Catholic Church from its apogee during the Eucharistic Congress of 1932, through gradual secularization in the 1960s, through the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979, and the clerical abuse scandals, Maher suggests that the process of change was gradual, albeit accelerated by the prosperity of the Celtic Tiger. Both before and during the years of unprecedented economic prosperity, there was continued questioning of the authority that the Church tried to wield over the private lives of individuals, particularly in the area of sexuality. Rather than seeing the current malaise in a negative light, however, some commentators would view it as a unique opportunity, and this chapter examines how this might prove to be the case and suggests possibilities for just such a reimagining of the role of the Church in Ireland.

in From prosperity to austerity
From Galway to Cloyne and beyond

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.

A socio-cultural critique of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath

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.

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in Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism
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in From prosperity to austerity
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in From prosperity to austerity