Nation of Extremes: Pioneers in Twentieth-century Ireland

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9780716526230: Nation of Extremes: Pioneers in Twentieth-century Ireland

The Irish have had, and continue to experience an extraordinary relationship with alcohol. Ferriter explores this relationship, in the twentieth century, from the point of view of the group who were intent on reducing alcohol consumption through membership of the Pioneer Total Abstinence of the Sacred Heart. The Pioneers was formed in 1898 and the study of its origins, its 'raison-d'etre' and the impact of the group is long overdue. By the mid-1950s the association was to claim a membership of nearly half-a-million, identifiable by the wearing of a pin, the outward expression of an internal and deeply personal piety. It was a startling figure for such a small country but the stereotype of the Irish as a nation of heavy drinkers continued unabated, aided by vast expenditure on alcohol. As the century progressed two diametrically opposed cultures - abstinence and heavy drinking - were lying alongside each other. Ferriter makes use of previously unpublished sources, and examines the Irish temperance movement in the context of Irish society as a whole and attempts to tease out some of the intricacies and ambiguities associated with these two cultures. Although the leaders of this temperance crusade insisted that it was primarily a religious movement, given the pervasiveness of the Irish drink culture it was inevitable that in their desire to transform attitudes they would have to involve themselves in the wider, and more material debates about the role of drink in Irish society. The fact that the movement was founded at a time of intense cultural nationalism gave these debates an added potency, particularly as it had often been contended that increased sobriety was essential for any self-respecting self-governing nation. After Independence, the quest for sobriety and an initially robust Catholic crusade ultimately led to confrontation and confusion.

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The Irish have had, and continue to experience an extraordinary relationship with alcohol. Ferriter explores this relationship, in the twentieth century, from the point of view of the group who were intent on reducing alcohol consumption through membership of the Pioneer Total Abstinence of the Sacred Heart.

About the Author:

Professor Diarmaid Ferriter is one of Ireland s leading historians. He is Professor of Modern Irish History in University College Dublin and has published extensively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish history. He is the author of a number of acclaimed books on Irish history, including The Transformation of Ireland 1900 2000, Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon de Valera and Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland, and was a researcher and writer with the Dictionary of Irish Biography, 1998 9. He is also a regular contributor to RTE, anchoring the successful radio series What If? from 2006 to 2008 and authoring and presenting the television series Lovers of Liberty in 2010.

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Ferriter, Diarmaid
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