Kevin Myers: Isn't a childish desire to be popular a reason why our toenails are teetering on the abyss?
One of the features of Irish life that astounds foreigners is our self-obsession. Do Belgians, Swiss, Estonians, Luxembourgers produce so many books about themselves as we do?
These sometimes slip into parody, such as last year's 'The Bombing of Dublin's North Strand'. In the Department of Defence's own words: "These four bombs formed an incident which had all the features of a major air raid ... searchlights, anti-aircraft fire, bomb explosions and fires, with the rise in tempo as the attack increased."
Four bombs, a few people killed, in 1941: and nearly 70 years later, a 380-page book about the night appears. Try explaining that to a Pole or a Londoner or a Berliner, or to a Jew anywhere. And this month, 'Destiny of the Soldiers, Fianna Fail, Irish Republicanism and the IRA 1926-73', nearly 540 pages, appears. It has an enchanting source note on page 458, which cites: "Mac Eoin, The IRA in the Twilight Years p540." So there we have it: just two books on the IRA totalling well over one thousand pages. Maybe IRA really stands for Infinitely Remorselessly Anal.