The differences between Catholic and Protestant beliefs have been exploited by secular rulers for their own gain and have led to wars and much bloodshed. Perhaps the greatest problem has been the insistence of secular authorities on imposing uniformity of faith in their territories.
The postwar decades in Northern Ireland were ones of modest prosperity, and the bitter conflict that had marked the birth of the state seemed on its way to becoming memory. For some – mainly Protestants ‑ the 1950s and early 60s have the innocence and charm of a lost Eden.
Hanna Sheehy Skeffington was a suffragette and a Sinn Féiner, and in that order. For her, national sovereignty did not overshadow other concerns and, unlike Constance Markievicz, she never considered female suffrage secondary to the struggle for Irish independence.
Emigration into postwar Britain was encouraged, but the only plan was to secure bodies for no-collar jobs (Irish labourers, Punjabi foundry workers) or to maintain essential services (Barbadians for the buses, Irish women for nursing). It was bodies that were needed, not people.
The Irish make death an occasion, surrounding it with ritual and sociability; in England funerals are private, almost furtive, affairs. But perhaps both approaches, behind the obvious differences, have something major in common, the perceived need to ‘deal with’ death, to put it in its box.