On a mild September morning, a demolition crew sets to work on their new project, a dilapidated suburban house in South Dublin. Before long, the structure is a heap of rubble, which will soon be cleared to make way for a planned apartment complex.
A seemingly ordinary occurrence, the scene demonstrates concerning developments in Irish society. The rubble at 4 Herbert Park was once the house of The O’Rahilly, the rebel who gained eternal fame through his heroics during the Easter Rising. Despite half-hearted condemnations from Council and Government officials, and some news coverage, the event soon passed out of the public consciousness.
While the demolition controversy is complex, with reasonable arguments on both sides, the entire event seems to speak of a profound crisis afflicting modern Ireland. The ease with which the O’Rahilly home was demolished, and the rapidity by which the story was forgotten, seem to suggest a widespread apathy regarding preservation of the national heritage.
The transformation of Ireland in recent years has affected somewhat of a “disconnect” with the country’s history and culture. Surveying the bleak cosmopolitanism of modern Dublin, the soulless glass structures which adorn the Dockland skyline, the myriad of ethnicities which populate its streets, one cannot help but recognise that Ireland is in the midst of a cultural revolution.
Across the country, Ireland’s culture has undergone dramatic change in the last half-century. To be blunt, the country faces the very real risk of losing its soul, of forfeiting its national character through a reckless dedication to the project of globalism.
It could be argued that the ideologues at the forefront of this movement have weakened Irish culture to a degree surpassing that of British colonial efforts, having practically invented a “New Ireland”, the distinguishing feature of which seems to be its radical commitment to self-annihilation.
History and culture antedating the last few decades is deemed remote and foreign. Modern Ireland cares little for its historical inheritance, instead viewing the past with suspicion, a time of “oppression” from the forces of Catholicism, nationalism, etc. Traces of the old Ireland are therefore subjected to attack, culminating in an assault upon the most fundamental aspect of the Nation — the Irish people itself. This assault upon the Irish people manifests itself in mass immigration and “deconstruction” of the concept of “Irishness”. The sheer number of immigrants precludes a functioning process of assimilation, and places national culture and identity in mortal danger.
The foundation of national culture, a sense of identity, is increasingly weak or wholly absent in Ireland. The advent of globalism, combined with its accompanying philosophical and cultural influences, has dramatically altered Ireland’s notion of itself as a nation. Having blurred and expanded the definition of “Irishness” to the extent whereby the term loses real meaning, we are incapable of sustaining or promoting a genuine national culture. The raison d’être of an independent Ireland, that the State should be the vessel of the historic Irish nation- its people, culture and language, has been stealthily dispensed with. Instead, Ireland is degraded to the state of a soulless landmass, or a commercial zone, one without a tangible sense of history or continuity.
The soil of Ireland has been divorced from its people and culture, and the State thus assumes the nature of a mere regulator of economic and social activity upon the island, mostly uninterested in the preservation of the national identity. State-supported multiculturalism has become an integral feature of the current political order.
Such developments are sustained by a constant media propagation of globalist “values”. While the quality of content showcased on the annual “Culture Night” has often been questionable, recent years’s events have been marked by an aggressive emphasis on multiculturalism. RTE’s primary advertisement for this year’s night consisted of an African man performing a tribal dance to the accompaniment of traditional Irish music. Similarly, much of the State sponsored events consisted of the celebrations of various migrant cultures and traditions. While such displays could be viewed as harmless novelty, celebrations of immigrant assimilation, they seem indicative of a nation which has lost faith in itself, which no longer sees its own self-preservation as desirable.
A cursory examination of contemporary Irish culture will reveal deeply troubling developments. With each passing year, Ireland is further integrated into the globalist/American milieu, as the core elements of the island’s unique culture either vanish or weaken.
Appreciation of Irish history, art, literature etc. has declined significantly. Where such fields are studied, it is in a deliberately sterile manner, one which is careful not to celebrate these things as achievements of the Irish Race. A peculiar unease surrounds the idea of national culture in modern Ireland. While not admitted officially, one gets the sense that Ireland, (or more specifically its elites) has made the decision to separate itself from the historic Irish nation. Implicitly, there “is no going back”. The Taoiseach is no longer the leader of Irishmen, but the figurehead of a commercial entity. When he speaks of “we”, does the term hold any tangible meaning, other than the loosely connected individuals who reside (often temporarily) upon the landmass? Official policy seems decided upon the advancement of globalism to its final stages, in which all ties to place, tradition, and blood are deemed fluid and malleable.
National consciousness and cultural taste have been severely damaged by a vulgar mass media, which has saturated Irish society with Anglo-American popular entertainment. The unending barrage of trashy television, debased music and unrefined cinema has poisoned the cultural life of Ireland. A crude, Philistine education system has perpetuated this cultural decline. Irish education, one of the most standardised and vocationally orientated systems in the world, places little emphasis upon cultural instruction. The meagre literary study usually consists of poor quality, contemporary American texts. Students graduate without even a basic grasp of the national cultural patrimony, or indeed that of the broader West. The great writers, artists, philosophers and statesmen of the West are largely unknown to our students. Consequently, the artistic life of the country is a veritable wasteland, incapable of equalling the achievements of our forebears.
In such an environment, “Irish culture” becomes defined as a shallow, effectively meaningless set of mannerisms, consumer habits or personality traits, or at best is permitted to exist (in a compromised form) within the framework of the new, pervasive, globalist/American order. Instead of celebrating the Irish people’s substantial cultural achievements (as a healthy nation would do naturally), current opinion sees the national character as somewhat of a joke.
Ignorant of Ireland’s past, and still bearing residual colonial self-hatred, many mock the national culture or are unable to view “Irishness” through anything but consumerist eyes. This attitude, combined with mass immigration, is cancer of indescribable severity, which possesses the very real power of destroying Irish nationality, or what remains of it. Critically wounded by centuries of suppression, and further undermined by a disdainful intellectual class, the culture of Ireland was bound to be gravely damaged by the rise of globalism. Indeed, one struggles to find a nation which has been so violently undermined by the ideology. In France and Italy for example, a distinct national identity has endured to a degree, cultivated by an education system which places heavy emphasis on national literature and history (aided by the obvious linguistic aspect).
The global phenomenon of Americanisation has been particularly sweeping in Ireland. Cultural insecurity, coupled with failure to extricate itself from the Anglosphere, left Ireland particularly vulnerable to this “silent conquest”, in which the essential constituent elements of culture have been largely Americanised.
If we are to be honest, is the United States a nation we wish to emulate? A country founded upon individualism, greed and materialism, which had contributed little of a positive nature to Western high culture, despite its place as the richest state in human history? One need only compare tacky, repugnant Times Square with our own European counterparts — Piazza Navona or Place de la Concorde. Surely the latter reflects the values of a higher state of civilisation?
Evidently, the experiences of Ireland form part of a broader movement affecting the entire Western world. The idea of a Western decline has been proposed and debated by generations of scholars, notably Spengler and Toynebee. Ireland’s inability to cultivate a healthy cultural life is symptomatic of a greater tragedy affecting modern man. The reasons for these developments are many, including materialism and the loss of religious faith. A more detailed study of the topic is envisioned in a future article.
Our “crisis of culture” obviously antedates mass immigration, and in many ways has been the primary facilitator of such extreme demographic change. The near total collapse of Gaelic Ireland, alongside the suppression and decline of its culture, inculcated a certain self-hatred in the Irish psyche. Despite the noble ideals of the Irish revolutionaries, dreams of a national rebirth soon faded amidst the bureaucracy of an unimaginative Free State, whose unenthusiastic attempts at cultural revival proved disastrous.
The intelligentsia of independent Ireland eventually reacted negatively to what was perceived as the artificial nature of the contemporary Gaelic Revivalism. While often responding to legitimate grievances, they failed to offer a viable alternative, leading to the confused, insecure cultural atmosphere of modern Ireland. The tiresome “national denigration” was continued by many of Ireland’s writers, perpetuating British colonial attitudes. The advent of Irish Historical Revisionism, exemplified in the character of Conor Cruise O’Brien, further weakened the nation’s self confidence. It is no surprise therefore, that a country whose writers and historians have been unhealthily obsessed with “demystifying” and “challenging nationalist myth-making”, should itself be especially vulnerable to the cultural genocide affected by the rise of contemporary globalism.
Unsurprisingly, the Irish language has been permitted to follow the path to extinction. As has been noted by several commentators, contemporary urban Gaeilgeoir trends often reduce the language to a sterile, artificial existence, within an effectively foreign culture (not to denigrate the genuine dedication of many to preserving our native tongue). Government grants and schemes are used as a smokescreen for the dire prospects of the language.
The Gaelic literature of Ireland, which is of great quality, is criminally underappreciated within this country. Such a complaint can easily be dismissed as trivial. “What does reading ancient stories have to offer modern, forward thinking Ireland”? Nations transmit and develop their character through their stories and writings. Every national literature therefore contains the unique genius and soul of its people. The ancient sagas, the Fenian cycle, the poems of Ó Rathaille and Ó Bruadair, the Aislings of the post-Cromwellian nation, all contain a spirit and wisdom which belongs to the Gael, and which forms part of the rich inheritance from our ancestors.
Regarding the Gaelic culture of Ireland, the objection is often raised that modern Ireland should accept its Anglicisation as a natural course of cultural development. Such ideas are often accompanied by the irritating view that culture is “the here and now”. While recognising that such an argument possesses its merits (a Cornish national revival is hardly likely nor desirable), it is not particularly applicable to Ireland . The Irish are a distinct people, they are not wholly English or American. Reviving the historic language of Irishmen, which in historical terms, was only abandoned relatively recently, would not be constrained or excessively artificial. A refined culture, by nature, requires the ability to locate the individual as part of a continuity. Anglophone Ireland, neither English nor truly Irish, is desperately lacking in this sense. The revival of the national language is therefore of primary importance in recovering this essential aspect of civilisation.
The rapid cultural collapse of Modern Ireland is sourced in a variety of causes, however, the abandonment of the Catholic Faith is a central one. The rejection of supernatural Faith in favour of degenerate hedonism has obviously engendered a major cultural decline. A movement seeking a revival of Irish culture must recognise the central importance of the Catholic Faith to the nation. It was the Church which brought literacy to Ireland, which recorded the ancient sagas and epics, which made Ireland renowned as the “Island of Saints and Scholars”. A rejection of the anti-Catholic myths of modern Ireland, alongside the effeminate, lifeless form of liberal Catholicism practiced in much of the nation’s churches is necessary. A return to the traditional Catholic Faith, which built Europe and Ireland, is essential. Without it, Ireland will never recover the daring and boldness which characterised its Golden Age, which led Irishmen to make the Book of Kells, to settle Sceilig Michael, to travel to the furthest corners of Europe on missions of conversion and civilising.
Despite the dire state of the current situation, hope should not be lost. The Irish nation has recovered continually from seemingly cataclysmic disasters. Such recoveries however, have been dependent on the dedication and self-sacrifice of countless men. A movement seeking to restore and elevate Ireland’s culture must be prepared to suffer the mockery and ridicule of current cultural elites, to be branded as foolish idealists and tasteless boors.
In response, it must strive to emulate the courage and patriotism which inspired the Fathers of the Gaelic Revival. A lasting cultural rebirth would involve a newfound appreciation for Ireland’s history, literature, language and art, alongside a rebirth of the values and states of mind which created these things. It will involve a recognition of the broader cultural patrimony which we have inherited as Europeans, heirs to the glories and triumphs of Christendom. The soul of Ireland, contained in the culture which Her people have cultivated over centuries, must be preserved at all costs.
The death of this culture, a real possibility within the next century, will be an unspeakable crime, for which our generation will be eternally guilty.