There appears to be some repressive force, almost an enchantment, affecting academic thinking. The experts cannot or will not suspect, let alone address, the crucial position of poets in Gaelic civilisation and in Ireland’s enigmatic history.
Ciaran Perry’s second poetry collection has feel of a project wholly preconceived and systematically carried out, almost like a doctoral dissertation. Fortunately, he has knitted so skilfully that the sense of a systematic project pales, in the end, against the sense of an achievement.
The common religious outlook of the English and Scots, albeit favouring different forms of Protestantism, produced conditions that were more favourable to political union than was the case in Ireland, where the majority continued to cling stubbornly to its Roman Catholic inheritance.
Ireland’s first independent government was faced with the ruinous cost of the Civil War, low levels of educational attainment and a tax base heavily eroded by emigration. While they could perhaps have done more to develop the economy, they succeeded in establishing a stable democracy and, in a Europe that was plunging into authoritarianism, transferred power peacefully to their successors.
France has long been a beacon for social democrats but we may be looking at the beginning of the fall of social France. The political elites of right and left increasingly conform to Peter Mair’s idea of the cartel party, but the politically crucial fact is that they conform on the right of the spectrum.