Ireland has changed for the better. In roughly the same measure that Thatcher’s Britain became sullen and philistine, the Republic of Ireland has advanced artistically. More and more British writers and artists look wistfully across the Irish Sea, and unlikely comparisons have been drawn with post-Franco Spain. But these changes are not easily achieved.
Remember, to James Joyce Dublin was an inward looking, spiritually paralysed city, more Scandinavian than European or even Celtic. He considered Ireland’s culture rotten with traditionalism, reliant on extravagant memories. Joyce, Wilde, Shaw and Yeats all had to get out.
The first two decades of the…
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