Thursday, 22 November 2007
The strange death of romantic Ireland
I have just finished reading Roy Foster's short, but magisterial review of Ireland over the last three decades. Luck & the Irish tells the story of how the Celtic Tiger was born and how peace came to Northern Ireland, but on the way takes us through the GUBU (Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented) leadership of the late Charles Haughey and the attempts of his nemesis, the well-meaning Garret Fitzgerald to start what led finally to the Good Friday agreement. It is a remakable story of economic transformation - as much due to American investment as European grants - the loss of religiosity, the liberalisation of legislation and cultural renaissance which benefits from Foster's ability to marry scholarship with simple storytelling. Foster's Modern Ireland is undoubtedly the best available history of post-1600 Ireland. His new book updates the story, and reminds us just how great the changes have been.