A ‘hard Brexit’ will undoubtedly create grave difficulties for Irish-owned businesses and ‘tariff-jumping’ foreign direct investment will come to seem an obvious response. Irish firms will establish operations in the UK, as Jacob’s, Guinness and Carroll’s have done in the past.
John Hewitt was uncomfortable with the Northern state and frustrated by his inability to make contact with ‘his own people’. His verse is inflected with a growing consciousness of the damage done by the political exploitation of division and by a nostalgia for a different past.
French Catholic intellectual influences were very evident in Catholic middle class culture in early twentieth century Ireland and were openly embraced in Joseph Mary Plunkett’s The Irish Review, a journal which promoted ‘a particularly religiose form of nationalism’.
The optimism that attended the ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011, and the inflated hopes invested in youth and social networks, have fallen away, replaced by a realisation that autocratic forces, particularly if they can buy military support, still have a future ahead of them.
Families and generations were often divided over the wisdom of making war on the British. One west Cork IRA man recalled his patriotic parents saying “in the name of God, are you mad taking on the British Empire?”. Like the people the priests were also divided, although their difficulties eased somewhat with the arrival of the unambiguously invasive Black and Tans.
Home computing and word processing are now so taken for granted that it’s hard to recreate how big a deal their first appearance was. One writer compared the cost of his device to his daughter’s school fees. Another had to have the machine lifted into his house by a crane.
A version of independent Ireland’s economic history which ignores the unfavourable starting point and then goes on to compare our performance with states whose circumstances were clearly different is more in the nature of a myth than a balanced historical account.