Not so much a generation gap as a chasm
Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30
There is much soul searching taking place in Ireland these days regarding who we are, what we have achieved and how society is to be managed for the coming decade.
Various versions are bandied about regarding our history and what it might mean for the future. It really depends on who you are talking to and who the authors were of our differing histories.
One thing is certain; Ireland has changed from being an almost destitute third world country in to a place where young people have hope and good prospects. In the years in between, a whole way of life and what was a uniquely Irish culture has disappeared.
I use the word "unique" with reservation as in our case it meant being shut off culturally from outside influences. Strict censorship had a lot to do with this as did the stranglehold the church and state had on the media.
Little changed economically from the 1920s to the 1950s but from then on, slowly but surely, we shed the more suffocating influences of past tradition.
We grew up and began to think for ourselves. In the 1960s, when in my late teens, I had the good fortune to spend some time in Spain and was astonished to find that the form of Catholicism practiced there was utterly foreign to me.
It was like opening a door to sunlight and all this in a country that had given the world the infamous Spanish Inquisition. The openness and lighter-hearted attitude to religious practice I found there was refreshing and attractive compared with the dark and gloomy regime I had left in Ireland.
It was clear that the rules of the Roman Catholic religion were interpreted differently in other countries and in a far more humane manner. Some readers of this column have accused me in the past of being anti-religious. This is not so - I simply abhor the specifically Irish version of Catholicism that was imposed on us during my childhood and for the following few decades.