In a sense, most of the old guard never fully understood, and certainly never accepted the consequences of, the process they had initiated. If they had, they would have released control of the Workers Party with good grace to De Rossa and the new guard. By not only attempting to hold onto power but reactivating IRA structures in order to do so they ensured both sides lost out in the long term.
French Catholic culture offered a supplementary world, and in some cases a focus for unfulfilled longings, for those who found Free State culture insufficient or repetitive. Conor Cruise O’Brien’s Maria Cross can strike today’s reader as brilliantly eccentric, an anomaly; it should instead be regarded as the finest analytical product of a culture we have almost forgotten.