Does anyone ever get tired of this 'Ireland was really crap back in the day' thing?

Neilob

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Further to the article in today's Irish Times, What did it mean to be a girl in 1990s Ireland (What did it mean to be an Irish teenage girl in the early 1990s?), is this really all we were in the 1990s, or for that matter in the 1980s and '70s?

In my memory of the 1990s, young people weren't that fussed about the Catholic Church - the decline was well and truly on its way by then. To be honest more seriously minded people were more worried about the atrocities of the Balkan War, and to an extent Northern Ireland. Young people were actually serious – many of us actually used to read newspapers and Hot Press, and our parent’s copies of Phoenix Magazine and Magill. We had better things to think about than men in dresses.

The Church of the 1970s and 80s, when I was a very young child, was one which was in change and on a happy clappy high after the second Vatican Council. There was certainly no Rosary at home in our house. My mother tried it once, my father disapproved and we sniggered and that was the end of that. There was no picture of the Pope or Sacred Heart Lamps. Some neighbours had them, but they were a bit 'odd'. Nobody in our neighbourhood had ten children - the average was the nuclear family of 2.5. Either Kojak or Dallas was sufficient stimulation for our elders, or else they were making good use of contraception.

Pope John Paul II was a global superstar, but no one really paid much attention to the moral teaching stuff - 1980s and 1990s Ireland was, contrary to what some may think, Catholic 'lite' in the extreme and some of the older Bishops used to scowl about 'a la carte Catholics'. They were cranks - old men and Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s was not a country for old men, it was most certainly a society in transition and we had more young people than ever before.

I went to a school which had legions of priests, some of whom were very young. We liked them; they took an interest in us and our welfare. They didn't drive doctrine (or anything else for that matter) down our throat. We respectfully listened and on the whole compartmentalised the teachings of the Catholic Church into the 'not very important' zones of our brains. The first time I saw a Corpus Christi parade (outside of the Godfather Part 2) was on the streets of Cork when I was in College. I thought it was extremely strange and we laughed when a friend told us he was roped in the carry a candle. I came from Limerick and never saw one there - the closest thing was the annual Solemn Novena at the Redemptorists. Everyone used to go, we didn't - my mother preferred the really boring one at the Jesuits.

It is true that there was a national consensus that abortion wasn't a good idea and that children were better off brought up in a traditional family structure. Many people separated and recoupled on the quiet, and those who were better off went abroad for a while and obtained a foreign divorce. I certainly don't recall anyone being ostracized from society because their parents were unmarried - the concept of illegitimacy was removed from Irish law in the early 1980s thanks to Senator Mary Robinson. Antiquated legislation on homosexual relations was swept away. Women began to join the workforce, though jobs were as rare as hen’s teeth.

Irish people back then tended to have good manners and respected their neighbours, no matter who they were. 1990s & 1980s society wasn't an intolerant society, despite what one frequently sees written today. It was a society in flux and experiencing a youth explosion and new ideas.

The fact that we know about the scandals of the Catholic Church in Ireland puts our print and broadcast media in eternal good standing. A free and open media is essential for any society - Irish journalists and editors had the courage to take on a powerful institution. The response of the Catholic Church in Rome was that the Irish Catholic Church was uniquely scandal prone, and there was something inherently odd about Irish society. Long after Brendan Smith and 'Dear Daughter', other Catholic Western societies in Belgium, Germany, France, Argentina, Poland etc etc are being rocked by scandals that were broken by Irish journalists over 30 years ago. RTE, the Irish Times and Irish Independent should take a bow. The best thing about the 1980s and 90s was traditional media - can we say that about the fragmented nature of media in the future?

Irish society up until the 1990s, it is true, was inherently conservative - not because it was oppressed, rather people on the whole were suspicious of change. Older generations were educated, on the whole, to primary level or less. Someone with 'the intercert' was regarded as well educated - less than 10% of the population were graduates - intellectualism was respected and education was for life and not just a fast food commodity. Reform was accepted in cautious incremental steps rather than a revolutionary break with the past. What is wrong with that?

Only in the mid 1990s were contraceptives allowed to be purchased outside of a chemist shop. I remember having to go in to buy them once, which were freely displayed on the shelves. I thought I'd better buy something else in case the shop assistant thought I was a pervert; I bought some shower gel in panic! Rubber johnny machines in the toilets of UCC were a sight to behold - Quinnsworth refused to stock them.

Most forward looking people knew the right to life and divorce referendums were a mistake, but walking our way backwards and finding a solution wasn't easy. No one should underestimate now how socially divisive these issues were - no politician would touch them with a barge pole.

It's easy, with our contemporary cafe culture to look back and regard the past with disdain. However I didn't feel oppressed, indeed my youth was one long string of liberation - it was the best of times for me and those I knew, but it was undoubtedly the worst of times for some.

No society is perfect, but in many ways the 70s, 80s and 90s was a more innocent world. In the early 1980s the biggest problem in Inner city Dublin was youth’s sniffing glue and we were, on the whole, a nation of teetotalers. Wouldn’t we like to walk ourselves back to the innocence of that world?
 


Enoch Root

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Regarding your last paragraph:

In the early 1980s, the biggest problem to Dublin's inner city youth wasn't sniffing glue, it was heroin and in quite a few cases living in social housing sinkhole estates from the previous decade that had descended into being police no-go areas.

And do you really think Ireland was a nation of tea-totallers in the 1980s? Really? There were far more pubs, especially local estate pubs and suburban pubs? What do you think they were selling to not only stay in business but thrive?

Take off those rose-tinted glasses. The 80s were shite.
 

owedtojoy

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Further to the article in today's Irish Times, What did it mean to be a girl in 1990s Ireland (What did it mean to be an Irish teenage girl in the early 1990s?), is this really all we were in the 1990s, or for that matter in the 1980s and '70s?

In my memory of the 1990s, young people weren't that fussed about the Catholic Church - the decline was well and truly on its way by then. To be honest more seriously minded people were more worried about the atrocities of the Balkan War, and to an extent Northern Ireland. Young people were actually serious – many of us actually used to read newspapers and Hot Press, and our parent’s copies of Phoenix Magazine and Magill. We had better things to think about than men in dresses.

The Church of the 1970s and 80s, when I was a very young child, was one which was in change and on a happy clappy high after the second Vatican Council. There was certainly no Rosary at home in our house. My mother tried it once, my father disapproved and we sniggered and that was the end of that. There was no picture of the Pope or Sacred Heart Lamps. Some neighbours had them, but they were a bit 'odd'. Nobody in our neighbourhood had ten children - the average was the nuclear family of 2.5. Either Kojak or Dallas was sufficient stimulation for our elders, or else they were making good use of contraception.

Pope John Paul II was a global superstar, but no one really paid much attention to the moral teaching stuff - 1980s and 1990s Ireland was, contrary to what some may think, Catholic 'lite' in the extreme and some of the older Bishops used to scowl about 'a la carte Catholics'. They were cranks - old men and Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s was not a country for old men, it was most certainly a society in transition and we had more young people than ever before.

I went to a school which had legions of priests, some of whom were very young. We liked them; they took an interest in us and our welfare. They didn't drive doctrine (or anything else for that matter) down our throat. We respectfully listened and on the whole compartmentalised the teachings of the Catholic Church into the 'not very important' zones of our brains. The first time I saw a Corpus Christi parade (outside of the Godfather Part 2) was on the streets of Cork when I was in College. I thought it was extremely strange and we laughed when a friend told us he was roped in the carry a candle. I came from Limerick and never saw one there - the closest thing was the annual Solemn Novena at the Redemptorists. Everyone used to go, we didn't - my mother preferred the really boring one at the Jesuits.

It is true that there was a national consensus that abortion wasn't a good idea and that children were better off brought up in a traditional family structure. Many people separated and recoupled on the quiet, and those who were better off went abroad for a while and obtained a foreign divorce. I certainly don't recall anyone being ostracized from society because their parents were unmarried - the concept of illegitimacy was removed from Irish law in the early 1980s thanks to Senator Mary Robinson. Antiquated legislation on homosexual relations was swept away. Women began to join the workforce, though jobs were as rare as hen’s teeth.

Irish people back then tended to have good manners and respected their neighbours, no matter who they were. 1990s & 1980s society wasn't an intolerant society, despite what one frequently sees written today. It was a society in flux and experiencing a youth explosion and new ideas.

The fact that we know about the scandals of the Catholic Church in Ireland puts our print and broadcast media in eternal good standing. A free and open media is essential for any society - Irish journalists and editors had the courage to take on a powerful institution. The response of the Catholic Church in Rome was that the Irish Catholic Church was uniquely scandal prone, and there was something inherently odd about Irish society. Long after Brendan Smith and 'Dear Daughter', other Catholic Western societies in Belgium, Germany, France, Argentina, Poland etc etc are being rocked by scandals that were broken by Irish journalists over 30 years ago. RTE, the Irish Times and Irish Independent should take a bow. The best thing about the 1980s and 90s was traditional media - can we say that about the fragmented nature of media in the future?

Irish society up until the 1990s, it is true, was inherently conservative - not because it was oppressed, rather people on the whole were suspicious of change. Older generations were educated, on the whole, to primary level or less. Someone with 'the intercert' was regarded as well educated - less than 10% of the population were graduates - intellectualism was respected and education was for life and not just a fast food commodity. Reform was accepted in cautious incremental steps rather than a revolutionary break with the past. What is wrong with that?

Only in the mid 1990s were contraceptives allowed to be purchased outside of a chemist shop. I remember having to go in to buy them once, which were freely displayed on the shelves. I thought I'd better buy something else in case the shop assistant thought I was a pervert; I bought some shower gel in panic! Rubber johnny machines in the toilets of UCC were a sight to behold - Quinnsworth refused to stock them.

Most forward looking people knew the right to life and divorce referendums were a mistake, but walking our way backwards and finding a solution wasn't easy. No one should underestimate now how socially divisive these issues were - no politician would touch them with a barge pole.

It's easy, with our contemporary cafe culture to look back and regard the past with disdain. However I didn't feel oppressed, indeed my youth was one long string of liberation - it was the best of times for me and those I knew, but it was undoubtedly the worst of times for some.

No society is perfect, but in many ways the 70s, 80s and 90s was a more innocent world. In the early 1980s the biggest problem in Inner city Dublin was youth’s sniffing glue and we were, on the whole, a nation of teetotalers. Wouldn’t we like to walk ourselves back to the innocence of that world?
No effing way.

I lived through it, too. Ireland was not the worst place in the world, but life in Ireland was not great.

Not just the moralistic tone of the religious elite, not just the Troubles, not just the terrible roads, not just the melancholy flight to England of pregnant young women, the dinginess and poverty everywhere, the acceptance of second best in everything, but the joblessness and the emigration at a time when flying was expensive and the internet or the smartphone did not exist.

"Innocence"? Where was it? I never saw it.

For me, the big uplift and breakthrough came in 1988 and 1990, when an Irish soccer team made a decent impact in Europe and at the World Cup. I felt the spirit of the whole country lift, and economic good times & the Peace Process soon followed. And, while there have been setbacks, I do not think we are going back, Mister. Never.
 

Neilob

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No effing way.

I lived through it, too. Ireland was not the worst place in the world, but life in Ireland was not great.

Not just the moralistic tone of the religious elite, not just the Troubles, not just the terrible roads, not just the melancholy flight to England of pregnant young women, the dinginess and poverty everywhere, the acceptance of second best in everything, but the joblessness and the emigration at a time when flying was expensive and the internet or the smartphone did not exist.

"Innocence"? Where was it? I never saw it.

For me, the big uplift and breakthrough came in 1988 and 1990, when an Irish soccer team made a decent impact in Europe and at the World Cup. I felt the spirit of the whole country lift, and economic good times & the Peace Process soon followed. And, while there have been setbacks, I do not think we are going back, Mister. Never.
Who suggests going back? However was it any better anywhere else? Poorer and dingy it certainly was, but we have a terrible habit in this country of comparing ourselves unfavorably to other countries. Most places were a bit crap back in the day and there are moralistic elites to be found everywhere.
 

bob3344

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For me, the big uplift and breakthrough came in 1988 and 1990, when an Irish soccer team made a decent impact in Europe and at the World Cup. I felt the spirit of the whole country lift, and economic good times & the Peace Process soon followed. And, while there have been setbacks, I do not think we are going back, Mister. Never.
It was amazing the effect that the football had, lifted the whole country, before that all we had to get behind was Sean Kelly & Barry McGuigan.

Football seemed to give us a confidence, a sense that we weren't intrinsically inferior.
 

bob3344

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Who suggests going back? However was it any better anywhere else? Poorer and dingy it certainly was, but we have a terrible habit in this country of comparing ourselves unfavorably to other countries. Most places were a bit crap back in the day and there are moralistic elites to be found everywhere.
Obviously all the places that the legions of Irish emigrated to were better.
 

Neilob

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Or have lived in Dublin in the 1980s.
Ya, it was a shithole. Parnell St used to have ropes with tyres. Wasn't too bad in the late '90s though when things began to turn around. Thing is, were not the building blocks for transformation built in the 80s and 90s? On that basis it wasn't such a bad time, was it?
 

McTell

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No
///

No society is perfect, but in many ways the 70s, 80s and 90s was a more innocent world. In the early 1980s the biggest problem in Inner city Dublin was youth’s sniffing glue and we were, on the whole, a nation of teetotalers. Wouldn’t we like to walk ourselves back to the innocence of that world?

The country was designed around the small farm, with all its prejudices and needs, and the towns mostly crumbled and dublin became a series of villages built side by side.

If you had a car, you would probably pull a girl without much problem. She wanted to get away from her ma for a few hours. It was all pretty basic.
 

bob3344

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Ya, it was a shithole. Parnell St used to have ropes with tyres. Wasn't too bad in the late '90s though when things began to turn around. Thing is, were not the building blocks for transformation built in the 80s and 90s? On that basis it wasn't such a bad time, was it?
Charlie Haughey and the IFSC seemed to be a turning point.

Mind you the early to mid 90s weren't great either.
 

Enoch Root

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Ya, it was a shithole. Parnell St used to have ropes with tyres. Wasn't too bad in the late '90s though when things began to turn around. Thing is, were not the building blocks for transformation built in the 80s and 90s? On that basis it wasn't such a bad time, was it?
It really was a bad time. You're confusing the 80s with the nineties.

As for the "transformation" of Dublin, it had very little to do with planning, and a hell of a lot to do with MNCs coming into the city.
 

raetsel

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Further to the article in today's Irish Times, What did it mean to be a girl in 1990s Ireland (What did it mean to be an Irish teenage girl in the early 1990s?), is this really all we were in the 1990s, or for that matter in the 1980s and '70s?

In my memory of the 1990s, young people weren't that fussed about the Catholic Church - the decline was well and truly on its way by then. To be honest more seriously minded people were more worried about the atrocities of the Balkan War, and to an extent Northern Ireland. Young people were actually serious – many of us actually used to read newspapers and Hot Press, and our parent’s copies of Phoenix Magazine and Magill. We had better things to think about than men in dresses.

The Church of the 1970s and 80s, when I was a very young child, was one which was in change and on a happy clappy high after the second Vatican Council. There was certainly no Rosary at home in our house. My mother tried it once, my father disapproved and we sniggered and that was the end of that. There was no picture of the Pope or Sacred Heart Lamps. Some neighbours had them, but they were a bit 'odd'. Nobody in our neighbourhood had ten children - the average was the nuclear family of 2.5. Either Kojak or Dallas was sufficient stimulation for our elders, or else they were making good use of contraception.

Pope John Paul II was a global superstar, but no one really paid much attention to the moral teaching stuff - 1980s and 1990s Ireland was, contrary to what some may think, Catholic 'lite' in the extreme and some of the older Bishops used to scowl about 'a la carte Catholics'. They were cranks - old men and Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s was not a country for old men, it was most certainly a society in transition and we had more young people than ever before.

I went to a school which had legions of priests, some of whom were very young. We liked them; they took an interest in us and our welfare. They didn't drive doctrine (or anything else for that matter) down our throat. We respectfully listened and on the whole compartmentalised the teachings of the Catholic Church into the 'not very important' zones of our brains. The first time I saw a Corpus Christi parade (outside of the Godfather Part 2) was on the streets of Cork when I was in College. I thought it was extremely strange and we laughed when a friend told us he was roped in the carry a candle. I came from Limerick and never saw one there - the closest thing was the annual Solemn Novena at the Redemptorists. Everyone used to go, we didn't - my mother preferred the really boring one at the Jesuits.

It is true that there was a national consensus that abortion wasn't a good idea and that children were better off brought up in a traditional family structure. Many people separated and recoupled on the quiet, and those who were better off went abroad for a while and obtained a foreign divorce. I certainly don't recall anyone being ostracized from society because their parents were unmarried - the concept of illegitimacy was removed from Irish law in the early 1980s thanks to Senator Mary Robinson. Antiquated legislation on homosexual relations was swept away. Women began to join the workforce, though jobs were as rare as hen’s teeth.

Irish people back then tended to have good manners and respected their neighbours, no matter who they were. 1990s & 1980s society wasn't an intolerant society, despite what one frequently sees written today. It was a society in flux and experiencing a youth explosion and new ideas.

The fact that we know about the scandals of the Catholic Church in Ireland puts our print and broadcast media in eternal good standing. A free and open media is essential for any society - Irish journalists and editors had the courage to take on a powerful institution. The response of the Catholic Church in Rome was that the Irish Catholic Church was uniquely scandal prone, and there was something inherently odd about Irish society. Long after Brendan Smith and 'Dear Daughter', other Catholic Western societies in Belgium, Germany, France, Argentina, Poland etc etc are being rocked by scandals that were broken by Irish journalists over 30 years ago. RTE, the Irish Times and Irish Independent should take a bow. The best thing about the 1980s and 90s was traditional media - can we say that about the fragmented nature of media in the future?

Irish society up until the 1990s, it is true, was inherently conservative - not because it was oppressed, rather people on the whole were suspicious of change. Older generations were educated, on the whole, to primary level or less. Someone with 'the intercert' was regarded as well educated - less than 10% of the population were graduates - intellectualism was respected and education was for life and not just a fast food commodity. Reform was accepted in cautious incremental steps rather than a revolutionary break with the past. What is wrong with that?

Only in the mid 1990s were contraceptives allowed to be purchased outside of a chemist shop. I remember having to go in to buy them once, which were freely displayed on the shelves. I thought I'd better buy something else in case the shop assistant thought I was a pervert; I bought some shower gel in panic! Rubber johnny machines in the toilets of UCC were a sight to behold - Quinnsworth refused to stock them.

Most forward looking people knew the right to life and divorce referendums were a mistake, but walking our way backwards and finding a solution wasn't easy. No one should underestimate now how socially divisive these issues were - no politician would touch them with a barge pole.

It's easy, with our contemporary cafe culture to look back and regard the past with disdain. However I didn't feel oppressed, indeed my youth was one long string of liberation - it was the best of times for me and those I knew, but it was undoubtedly the worst of times for some.

No society is perfect, but in many ways the 70s, 80s and 90s was a more innocent world. In the early 1980s the biggest problem in Inner city Dublin was youth’s sniffing glue and we were, on the whole, a nation of teetotalers. Wouldn’t we like to walk ourselves back to the innocence of that world?
But please tell us what happened when you emerged back out at the other end of the looking glass? :)
 

wombat

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Must admit that I missed out on the 80s in Ireland, having emigrated in 75. Hard to believe now but there was a shortage of jobs outside the state sector - Harland & Wolf were still the biggest industrial employer on the island and Ford assembled cars in Cork.
 

CatullusV

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Who suggests going back? However was it any better anywhere else? Poorer and dingy it certainly was, but we have a terrible habit in this country of comparing ourselves unfavorably to other countries. Most places were a bit crap back in the day and there are moralistic elites to be found everywhere.
As a corrective, I would point out that a hell of a lot of what we saw of other countries consisted of glorified tourist ads. Dallas, Magnum PI, that Don Johnson thing I can't (thankfully) remember. Then we had (jaysus, where has my memory gone) one gritty police drama set in really gritty areas where the cops themselves were far from heroic.
 

bob3344

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As a corrective, I would point out that a hell of a lot of what we saw of other countries consisted of glorified tourist ads. Dallas, Magnum PI, that Don Johnson thing I can't (thankfully) remember. Then we had (jaysus, where has my memory gone) one gritty police drama set in really gritty areas where the cops themselves were far from heroic.
Miami Vice ?

Hill St Blues ?
 

wombat

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Obviously all the places that the legions of Irish emigrated to were better.
They were in one respect, you could find a job and got to keep most of what you earned, you traded that for loneliness unless you brought your family with you.
 

Neilob

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It really was a bad time. You're confusing the 80s with the nineties.

As for the "transformation" of Dublin, it had very little to do with planning, and a hell of a lot to do with MNCs coming into the city.
Why do you think FDI came to Ireland? Was it because we began to invest very heavily in education in the 1970s and 1980s so generations in the late 1990s and 2000s would never have to emigrate again, if they didn't want to? Free education instituted in 1968, the building of new comprehensive and community schools, as well as free third level education was transformative. Because we have had a consistently steady fertility rate since the 1960s, and the State invested heavily in the 70s, 80s and 90s we're in a lot better place than many other Western countries.

Sometimes the whinging and moaning just gets a bit tiresome. The marriage equality generation seem to think they invented the wheel. The transformation of Irish society was well underway 40 years ago, and it wasn't all that bad.
 


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