As a diplomat you are often called upon to speak on Ireland. This usually focuses on the economy and the Northern Ireland peace process; sometimes too on aspects of Ireland’s literary heritage with Yeats the reigning star, followed by Joyce and Beckett.
Irish history can feature in talks too but compressing it into a presentation is always something of a challenge. Explaining Ireland means of necessity compressing our history into a narrative that traces our development as a society in fairly broad patterns.
However the exercise can have a value in helping to organize our complex history. Many people around the world, charmed and intrigued by Ireland and Irish culture, delve into our history. However while they find episodes of our history fascinating and compelling, at times the overall historical narrative can be elusive and confusing, and joining the dots can become a real challenge.
I will blog over the coming weeks Ireland in Five Easy Pieces as a modest attempt to knit together a broad explanatory narrative. It begins mid-19th century because that I think is when modern Ireland really takes shape.
The five easy pieces are ‘Famine, Church and Society’; ‘Ireland in the Empire’: ‘Revolution, Partition and Independence’; ‘Northern Ireland and British Irish Relations’; and ‘Economic Development’.
It is necessarily an act of compression, excision and simplification. It is too, obviously, a wholly personal perspective. All comments welcome.
I hope you enjoy them.