Conor Cruise O’Brien forced Ireland to reconsider nationalism

The intellectual challenged the idea the pursuit of unity was the State’s main goal

File image of Conor Cruise O’Brien. In the Labour Party his views on the North caused huge dissension, but with the support of Brendan Corish he swung the party behind his policies.

File image of Conor Cruise O’Brien. In the Labour Party his views on the North caused huge dissension, but with the support of Brendan Corish he swung the party behind his policies.

Conor Cruise O’Brien, the centenary of whose birth occurs on November 3rd, was one of the most influential and courageous public figures to emerge in the history of independent Ireland.

He had an enormous, and often divisive, impact on public opinion during his relatively short eight years as a TD between 1969 and 1977, but he exercised power through the force of his ideas, as expressed in books, essays and newspaper articles for more than half a century.

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