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Editor: Tom Inglis

The Irish mind has enabled the Irish to balance and accommodate imagination and intellect, emotion and reason, poetry and science. The notion of cultural difference is not just an Irish story, but a story of nations and ethnic groups all over the world. The story of modernity revolves around people coming to see and understand themselves as belonging to nations. Although there were other European nations that made Catholicism a keystone of national difference, there were many factors that made the Irish project different. The idea of creating a society that had a collective vision and commitment without being socialist became an ideal of the Catholic Church during the latter half of the twentieth century. The Church did, nevertheless, have a profound influence on Irish society and culture. The extent to which the Catholic Church shaped and influenced Irish politics has been the subject of much research and debate. The power of the Catholic Church in politics stemmed from the power it developed in the modernisation of Irish society and, in particular, the controlling of sexuality, marriage and fertility. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Irish developed a particular aversion to marriage. For many nations and ethnic groups, what binds people together is that they speak the same language. It may well be that for generations many Irish people identified the Irish language, music and sport as an inhibitor in embracing a less insular and more urbane, cosmopolitan disposition.

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Tom Inglis

character. Richard Kearney, for example, has claimed that, over the centuries, the Irish developed a powerfully different way of thinking. In positing the unique qualities of the ‘Irish Mind’, he wanted ‘to debunk the myth of the mindless Irish’ and ‘the colonialist portrayals of the Irish as brainless savages’. He argued that there is a complex, rigorous logic to Irish mythical thought that gives meaning to people’s lives and that has been passed down through generations from Celtic times. ‘From the earliest times, the Irish mind remained free, in significant measure, of

in Are the Irish different?
Michael O’Sullivan

expressing reality’ (1995c:232).1 Ó Tuama’s reading relies on its positing of a notion of Irishness in Synge’s work that is ‘characteristically Irish’ and that speaks for the ‘basic values’ of the ‘traditional Irish mind’. This kind of Irishness is a ‘peasant’ Irishness that is also, somewhat paradoxically, a ‘“high Culture”, an aristocratic tradition which lasted strongly in Ireland for practically two thousand years down into the seventeenth century’ (1995c:222). Ó Tuama explains that this tradition is responsible for the esteem for music, poetry and ‘fine talk’ that

in The humanities and the Irish university
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Tom Inglis

and around Catholic time and space, rich with rituals and imagery, that we can make a connection between the body and the Irish mind. The ability to think outside the box of either/or and to see the world as both/and may be related to more Irish people spending more time in enchanted time and space in which things are never always what they seem, in which there is a dual logic in operation, that of the logical rational scientific world and that of the world of spirits and magical transformations. It may be that this spiritual and magical world is a rich source of

in Are the Irish different?
Michael O’Sullivan

and symbols of the existing order’ (2006:48). However, despite Sean O’Faolain’s claims that the ‘Celtic tradition’ is responsible for an ‘Irish mind’ that can ‘respect no laws at all’ (1947:41), this would seem to be one ‘rule’ or law that, for Higgins at any rate, Irish society is capable of observing. Newman, utility and professionalism Newman’s approach to the university is often critiqued, and it is a critique he pre-empts, for underemphasizing the importance of professional study and utility. However, in the wake of ‘academic professionalism’ and ‘academic

in The humanities and the Irish university
Brid Quinn and Bernadette Connaughton

very positive (Holmes, 2005) but there are intimations that rejection of the Nice and Lisbon Treaties signalled a marked shift in the Irish mind-set and outlook towards Europe. This chapter includes an analysis of the way in which Irish elites and the general public have regarded the EU and how attitudes have altered over time. In most societies policy-making is strongly influenced by electoral competition incorporating the priorities of political parties. However, this is not the case in Ireland because the Irish party system differs from the patterns and structures

in Europeanisation and new patterns of governance in Ireland
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McGahern’s personal and detached reflections
Tom Inglis

way in which the Catholic Church came to dominate Irish society, not just in terms of the way it symbolically dominated the State, the market and the media, but also in the way in which it colonised homes, schools, communities, organisations and civil society generally. While McGahern provides key insights into this process, he is best at describing the way in which a Catholic ethos and disposition permeated Irish minds and bodies. The decline in the power and influence of the Catholic Church was linked to long-term processes of change, particularly increased

in John McGahern
Marie Keenan

doctors.14 So when we locate the story of alleged ‘cover-up’ by the Catholic Church in the context of the Irish mind of the time, what emerges is a story of cover-up on all sides and of the neglect of the welfare of children on the part of both the Irish state and the Church. This is not to deny or doubt the care that many children received in their families or in alternative care systems run by the religious orders on behalf of the Irish state. The perception of the state as opting out of child welfare and protection and handing it over to the religious and voluntary

in Are the Irish different?
Michele Dillon

of Sunday Mass required Sunday Mass attendance irrespective of pressing personal or family circumstances. And even if one conceded recognition of the legitimacy of Church-state separation, the Catholic consensual view nonetheless was that contraception, sex outside marriage and divorce were mortal sins. The idea that Catholics might have a personal morality that was independent of official Church teaching was slow to intrude on the Irish mind. Much has happened in the US and Ireland over the last three decades and with those changes there has been considerable

in Are the Irish different?
Geraldine Moane

worthlessness are among the many patterns he identifies. Anthony Clare, writing in 1994, commented on the high rates of mood disorders in Ireland: ‘The most compelling cultural explanation has been that which points to the impact of centuries of foreign political and psychological domination on the Irish mind, a mind enveloped and to an extent suffocated in an English mental embrace’. Several papers in the above-mentioned Special Issue (including my own) identified attributes of the Irish psyche.10 Trisha McDonnell undertook an empirical study of internal colonisation through

in Are the Irish different?