Where did it all go wrong? Over the last half century, supporters of Fianna Fail have had more occasions to ask themselves that question than adherents of other parties.
Some stalwarts asked it in the 1970s, after Jack Lynch had announced, in 1969, that he could no longer stand by and watch nationalists being burned out of their homes by B Specials - and then stood by and watched.
Others asked that same question in the 1980s after Charlie Haughey put the likes of Sean Doherty, Ray Burke and Padraig Flynn into State cars and still others asked it in the 1990s when Albert Reynolds, a brave and brilliant man, squandered everything in an unnecessary row over his attorney general's handling of the extradition of a child-abusing priest.
And never did more Fianna Failers ask that question than in the noughties when Bertie Ahern, a man without a bank account, dismissed warnings from respected economists that his policies had created a property bubble and Brian Cowen pitched his tent at the Galway Races.
Yes, sooner or later Fianna Fail always gives its voters reason to ask, where did it all go wrong?
In 1982 an old Fianna Failer in west Donegal took a stab at answering that question.
Then 86 years of age, Charlie Gallagher, of Castlegoland, commanded deep respect in the party and, indeed, far beyond it. In 1919-21 he had been vice-commandant of the local battalion of the IRA. He had opposed the Treaty, but remained neutral during the Civil War, sticking with Sinn Fein until 1926, when he left to become a founding member of Fianna Fail. He had chaired its comhairle ceantair for 40 years (1932-72). A ubiquitous figure at conventions and counts, he was Mr Fianna Fail in west Donegal.
And in February 1982, he gave an interview to the Derry People. The interview appeared on February 13, five days before the country went to the polls in the first of that year's two general elections - a fate we have been spared in 2020 by Covid-19 and Micheal Martin's ambition.
Described by his interlocutor as "a man of exceptional intelligence, of strong opinions and great wit", Gallagher looked back wistfully to the late 1920s, when the founding of Fianna Fail had "changed the whole outlook of the nation".
"The big question then was not who wanted a road tarred or a phone kiosk erected but what was best for the country. In those days politics were much clearer - you were either for a united Ireland or against and that was all that was to it."
A disillusionment with Fianna Fail was evident in his remarks and he was clear on the reasons for it.
"Fianna Fail", he continued, "had changed greatly down the years, side issues have taken priority and it is not such a nationalistic party any more, nor is it as strong as it was. If it was, the last coalition would never have got into power."
Here, he was alluding, among other things, to the general election of the previous June, when, at the height of the H-Block hunger strikes, the candidacy of republican prisoners and their supporters had kept Haughey (in whom he reposed some hope) out of power.
Gallagher himself, as he acknowledged to the Derry People, had "ceased to be an active member of Fianna Fail", and he seemed less than impressed with the "eager young men" who had come to prominence in the constituency organisation - meaning, Pat the Cope Gallagher and Clement Coughlan, the party's two TDs in Donegal South-West.
None of them was "of ministerial calibre yet", he said matter-of-factly, "although they work very hard for local grievances and problems".
More generally, he intimated, Fianna Fail was failing to communicate a sense of purpose, failing to differentiate itself from Fine Gael.
"People aren't sure any more which party is best, and the tradition of voting for one party or person is fast dying out."
And so, implicitly, Charlie Gallagher had three answers to the question, where did it all go wrong?
First, there was Fianna Fail's failure to articulate a coherent policy on what it had long presented as its signature issue - reunification.
Second, its dearth of talent (people of "ministerial calibre").
And, third, its inability to convince voters that it could effect positive change in their lives.
Those problems were then widely evident - not just in Donegal. And they remain problems for Fianna Fail.
Clement Coughlan died in a road accident the year after Charlie Gallagher gave that interview to the Derry People: and what he might have achieved in national politics cannot be known. By all accounts, he was a very able man. But Charlie Gallagher had the measure of Pat the Cope - he rose no higher than minister of state. He got the trappings but no power, no seat at cabinet - gravy but no goose.
And Charlie Gallagher's fears for Fianna Fail were well-founded. It was the best part of a generation before the party's failure to connect with younger voters, that he discerned in the early 1980s, took effect at the ballot box - the delay due in no small part to a surge in emigration in that decade.
Still, when it did hit, it hit hard. In the 1980 by-election that saw Coughlan elected for the first time, Fianna Fail took 39pc of first preference votes - and its dissident wing, the one-drum band that was Neil Blaney's Independent Fianna Fail - took 23.6pc.
In other words, 62.6pc of voters gave the Fianna Fail family a first preference. In 2016, by which stage the Blaney outfit had been brought back, over a very nice bridge, into Fianna Fail, the party's share of first preference votes in the Donegal constituency was 31.2pc. In other words, the Fianna Fail vote had halved. And it declined by a third from 2016 to 2020, when it hit 20.4pc.
Reflecting its dearth of talent, Pat the Cope, a man not "of ministerial calibre yet" in the early 1980s, was still a candidate.
Jack Lynch left Charlie Gallagher cold. And one imagines that the current Corkman would scarcely warm him. In making a "principle" of not going into government with Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Eoin O Broin - recognised by fair-minded opponents as politicians of high calibre - Martin will cod few voters.
Leaving aside that he expects Arlene Foster and Diane Dodds to sit in government with Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy, he well knows that, whenever it has served its interests, Fianna Fail has come to arrangements with Sinn Fein on county councils.
"Holier than thou" is the tone of a Mother Superior and the high moral ground is a cold and lonely place. And Martin's desperation for power, at any price, will doubtless, as Varadkar well knows, prove massively counterproductive for Fianna Fail.
After all, the current price of Micheal Martin becoming a Lanigan's Ball Taoiseach, stepping out and in again, is that Mary Lou McDonald becomes the one and only leader of the opposition and calmly bides her time, waiting for the next dance. How is that in the interest of his party?
This much is certain: if Micheal Martin's "principles" come between some "eager young men" in Fianna Fail and the prospect of re-election, as they most assuredly will, he will soon have reason to ponder the fate of Jack Lynch - elbowed aside by a rival with a false promise of a return to "core values".
And we know where that ended: the cronyism and corruption of "Thanks, big fella."
Yes, "Micheal's principles" may soon be the next answer to that recurrent question, where did it all go wrong for Fianna Fail?