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Letter from Ireland

Fintan O'Toole on why the Irish should shed their fear—but hang on to their shame

By Fintan O'Toole   December 2010

Down and out on Dublin’s O’Connell bridge: but sober reflection is just what Ireland needs

The Irish Rugby Football Union recently had to admit something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago. In Ireland, rugby has some working-class fans, but on the whole it is rooted in the business, professional and well-off classes, and still associated with fee-paying schools. So the IRFU’s admission that it was struggling to sell tickets for the first international match at its new stadium—Ireland were playing the world champions South Africa—was startling. The reason? Tickets, averaging €85 (£74), were too expensive.

In truth,…

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