Ireland: engaging as ever and forging a future...

... from the profligacy and mistakes of the immediate past.

A simply wonderful piece from the writer and broadcaster Fergal Keane on the BBC site on 10 September: "Finding a more realistic faith in Ireland's future." In it he writes of the stoicism and loyalty to empire of his great-grandfather, "commander of the barracks in Ardmore during the reign of Queen Victoria" and yet father to a revolutionary son. He discusses how Ireland took its "place among the nations of the Earth" but "it is (now) poorer. Gone are the flashy statements of the Celtic Tiger years: the brand-new cars, the jet skis bouncing noisily across Ardmore Bay, the permanent tans from frequent foreign holidays." 

Keane writes of the Irish "deference to authority" being shaken by relevations of "corrupt politicians, greedy developers and reckless bankers" helping to "create an economic disaster. At the same time, the once-mighty Catholic Church was revealed - in a series of horrifying scandals - to have covered up the sexual abuse of children on a massive scale."

What is so engaging about Keane's article is his focus on the reaction of the Irish to their change in circumstances. They have not rioted, protested on the streets, for as his friend told him "that won't get us out of the mess will it? There is nothing to be done but get on and get through this, and make sure it doesn't happen again."

"My sense is that the justifiable fury with the political elite is hardening into something more valuable, a genuine culture of questioning, not least of ourselves" Keane thinks.

Of course, there are alarming reports of rising emigration from Ireland's shores once again. Scores of young (and not so youthful) people are apparently leaving to try their luck abroad. But for most, I suspect, Ireland will do what Ireland always does: create, analyse, innovate and survive. They say there's the "luck of the Irish". It might also be said that there's inner strength, too.

How many other countries would approach such a dire crisis in this fashion? And how many other people would look inwardly to re-invigorate themselves in order to reshape their destinies?

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