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Cultural Perspectives on Globalisation and Ireland


Edited By Eamon Maher

In the space of a few short decades, Ireland has become one of the most globalised societies in the Western world. The full ramifications of this transformation for traditional Irish communities, religious practice, economic activity, as well as literature and the arts, are as yet unknown. What is known is that Ireland’s largely unthinking embrace of globalisation has at times had negative consequences. Unlike some other European countries, Ireland has eagerly and sometimes recklessly grasped the opportunities for material advancement afforded by the global project.
This collection of essays, largely the fruit of two workshops organised under the auspices of the Humanities Institute of Ireland at University College Dublin and the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in the Institute of Technology, Tallaght, explores how globalisation has taken such a firm hold on Irish society and provides a cultural perspective on the phenomenon. The book is divided into two sections. The first examines various manifestations of globalisation in Irish society whereas the second focuses on literary representations of globalisation. The contributors, acknowledged experts in the areas of cultural theory, religion, sociology and literature, offer a panoply of viewpoints of Ireland’s interaction with globalisation.


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5. Globalisation, Vulnerability and the Return to Religion: Reflections from the Irish Experience Peadar Kirby 93


5. Globalisation, Vulnerability and the Return to Religion: Reflections from the Irish Experience Peadar Kirby The emergence of globalisation as a central organising concept in the social sciences and beyond, while being controversial and highly contested, serves to draw attention to ways in which our established map of the social is being reshaped in fundamental ways. Among these is the role of religion in public life and the emergence of distinct horizons of progress associ- ated with religious movements. This is the terrain that this chapter seeks to examine but it does so from a particular experience, that of Ireland. The ways in which these issues have played themselves out in the Irish experi- ence over the past two decades could hardly be more different from that of France, for example. This is for two principal reasons. Firstly, as with so much else, modernity arrived late to Ireland but its sudden arrival has had a transformative impact, in both socio-economic and cultural terms. The period we label the Celtic Tiger, which we can roughly date from 1987 to 2007, has reshaped the contours of Irish life in fundamental ways with the result that globalisation is widely associated in the Irish mind with what to most seems a largely positive experience of enhanced opportunity and enor- mous national self-esteem. The reception of the discourse of globalisation in Ireland, therefore, contrasts greatly with its more contested reception in France (as in many other parts of the world). The second difference with France...

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