Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism

From Galway to Cloyne and beyond

By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

Tracing the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1720-5
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: April 2017
  • BIC Category: Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Religious Groups: Social & Cultural Aspects, Ireland, Humanities / British & Irish history, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Religious Life & Practice, Humanities / History of religion, RELIGION / Christianity / Catholic, RELIGION / Christian Life / Social Issues, RELIGION / Christian Church / History, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture, HISTORY / Europe / Ireland, Roman Catholicism, Roman Catholic Church, Irish History


This book traces the steady decline in Irish Catholicism from the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 up to the Cloyne report into clerical sex abuse in that diocese in 2011. The young people awaiting the Pope's address in Galway were entertained by two of Ireland's most charismatic clerics, Bishop Eamon Casey and Fr Michael Cleary, both of whom were subsequently revealed to have been engaged in romantic liaisons at the time.

The decades that followed the Pope's visit were characterised by the increasing secularisation of Irish society.

Boasting an impressive array of contributors from various backgrounds and expertise, the essays in the book attempt to trace the exact reasons for the progressive dismantling of the cultural legacy of Catholicism and the consequences this has had on Irish society.


'A new book on the issue, Tracing the Cultural Legacy of Irish Catholicism, is highly readable.this timely study is to be recommended.'
Mark Patrick Henderman is a monk of Glanstal Abbey in Limerick, The Irish Times, 27/05/2017

'We've heard the constituent elements of the process denied and exaggerated ad nauseam but this book provides them with a context and an analysis that raises the debate to another level y providing thirteen articles, mainly by academics, that help to interpret what's happened, what's happening and what may happen in the future to the 'lost legacy' of a Catholic culture.For anyone interested in the cultural legacy of Irish Catholicism, this book is a must-read.'
Brendan Hoban, priest of the Diocese of Killala, The Furrow, Vol. 68, No. 9, September 2017

'Maher and O'Brien, who lectures in English Language and Literature at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, have assembled a fascinating series of contributions. In most chapters, the writing and argumentation are accessible to both popular and academic audiences.'
Gladys Ganiel, Slugger


Introduction - Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien
Part I: Tracing change and setting the context
1. 'The times they are a changin'': Tracing the transformation of Irish Catholicism through the eyes of a journalist - Patsy McGarry
2. Revisiting the faith of our fathers ... and reimagining its relevance in the context of twenty-first-century Ireland - Louise Fuller
3. Dethroning Irish Catholicism: Church, State and modernity in contemporary Ireland - David Carroll Cochran
4. Refracted visions: Street photography, humanism and the loss of innocence - Justin Carville
5. Contemporary Irish Catholicism: A time of hope! - Vincent Twomey
Part II: Going against the tide
6. The poetry of accumulation: Irish-American fables of resistance - Eamonn Wall
7. Prophetic voices or complicit functionaries? Irish priests and the unravelling of a culture - Eamon Maher
8. Tony Flannery: A witness in an age of witnesses - Catherine Maignant
9. 'Belief shifts': Ireland's referendum and the journey from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft - Eugene O'Brien
Part III: Challenges in the here and now
10. Faith, hope and clarity? A new church for the unhoused - Michael Cronin
11. The people in the pews: Silent and betrayed - Patricia Casey
12. Irreconcilable differences? The fraught relationship between women and the Catholic Church in Ireland - Sharon Tighe-Mooney
13. The Catholic twilight - Joe Cleary


Eamon Maher is Director of the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in IT Tallaght, where he also lectures in Humanities
Eugene O'Brien is Head of the Department of English Language and Literature at Mary Immaculate College and Director of the Institute for Irish Studies

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