Generosity still a national trait
Self-congratulation does more harm than good. But as the dreadfully difficult year of 2011 draws to a close, there is at least one sphere in which the Irish people are fully entitled to congratulate themselves.
This month, the Charities Aid Foundation named us the second most charitable people in the world. We respond quickly and generously to appeals for aid, especially in the case of natural disasters. Our feelings may or may not spring from our folk memory of famine, or the emotions of a country which once was poor and suddenly found itself rich.
Now that with equal suddenness we have found ourselves (relatively) poor again, how do we shape up?