Growing up, Irish life was dominated by a triumvirate of powerful institutions that dictated how society viewed and governed itself.
In between, they did a decent job of covering the moral, political, and cultural.
While other exalted bodies had their say, these three had most of the angles covered.
That’s not to say they were necessarily obsessive, just all-seeing and everywhere. That said, if you wanted to call yourself a true Gael, chances were you’d have to de-cap at least two of the three.
This world is now a memory. Not so far away that we remember it in faded sepia, but for millennials at least part of a past that bears no resemblance to the Ireland in which they live.
The Catholic Church, needless to say, was the biggest beast in the room. Any room, especially the bedroom. Twentieth-century Ireland was not a theocracy, but it was not due to a lack of effort on the part of bishops and ministers.
The GAA was an enthusiastic upholder of this broad moral vision, steeped in a shamelessly masculine nationalist ethos. Seeing itself as much more than a sports organization, it created a very efficient system of sporting apartheid through its infamous ban on foreign games.
Fianna Fáil was the political party that had a symbiotic relationship with the other two. De Valera’s party dominated power. From 1932 to 2011 – when everything went horribly wrong – the party was in power for 61 of the state’s 79 years.
Of the three, only the GAA remains central to Irish life. It has transformed itself and shed its culturally isolationist and reactionary impulses. It has grown into an inclusive and progressive organization save for a few old diehards.
The pace of the church’s decline hardly needs mentioning here, other than that we as a society seem to have moved from submissive obedience to naked hostility in a relentless haste.
Fianna Fáil’s shrinking is more nuanced, if hardly less dramatic. With his poll numbers in the bargain basement, dissatisfied backbenchers recently called for the boss of top candidate Micheál Martin.
Within six years, Devs Soldiers of Destiny were in power
But any attempt to oust him ahead of Leo Varadkar’s transfer of power in December was always mere mouth.
MEPs know that the next election is all or nothing. Get it wrong, Fianna Fáil is sure to have her voice ruthlessly cannibalized by the Sinn Féin’s unstoppable train.
The irony of this will not escape a party fast approaching its centenary. Éamon de Valera founded Fianna Fáil by dramatically dropping out of a Sinn Féin ard fheis in 1926 over a controversial vote on taking seats in the Free State Dáil.
Old Sinn Féin withered on the vine and within six years Devs Soldiers of Destiny were brought to power. Forever more, it often seemed.
History could soon take revenge.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/is-history-about-to-get-its-own-back-on-fianna-fail-41866809.html Will history haunt Fianna Fáil anytime soon?