The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland by Crawford Gribben: Critical mass

Perhaps the greatest miracle of Irish Christianity is that it took root at all on this island

Gribben’s book highlights the what-might-have-beens of Christianity in Ireland. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Gribben’s book highlights the what-might-have-beens of Christianity in Ireland. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Independent TD Mattie McGrath sparked uproar when he compared Covid-19 Ireland – its pandemic restrictions and vaccination regimes – to the early political regime of Nazi Germany. Listening in from the land of the Nazi perpetrators, I wondered why he was reaching so far for his far-out historical comparison. If you view Ireland’s Covid-19 regime as draconian, arbitrary and discriminatory, why not compare it to the glory days of Catholic Ireland?

Perhaps because, as it vanishes over the horizon, we still have no social consensus over how we remember the country that once was ours. One section of Irish society denies Catholic Ireland was as bad as it is portrayed by the second group, which disowns ever being there, while a third and younger group looks on at a detached distance.

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