Who better to explain the remarkable changes that have taken place in Ireland over the last sixty years than one of its greatest modern writers, Fintan O’Toole, author of “We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland?” Designated one of the New York Times Book Review’s Top Ten Books of 2022 is now out in paperback and I was honored to speak to such a thoughtful and gifted writer and commentator. He explains how the Irish have always presented a certain ambiguity about life’s complexities and that its history is riddled with “known unknowns.” He uses his upbringing as a window into the dramatic changes that have seen the society go from a near theocracy to a willful casting off the yoke and double standards of the Catholic Church to present a new image to the world, where same sex marriage, abortion and divorce are all accepted norms in the society that once forbade all. He also provides insights into the Troubles in North Ireland and captures the essence of of the particular Irish habit of “deliberate unknowing” which allowed myths of national greatness to persist as the foundations were collapsing. It’s a perfect time to present this conversation on the heels of President Biden’s visit to Ireland.
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