We Don’t Know Ourselves


A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958

By Fintan O’Toole

Fintan O’Toole, Ireland’s leading public intellectual and author of Heroic Failure, tells a history of Ireland in his own time – a brilliant interweaving of memoir and historical narrative.

Fintan O’Toole was born in 1958. His life covers Ireland’s journey out of underdevelopment and domination by the Church, to the country’s transformation into the relatively prosperous and tolerant society that it is today. But, along the way, there was a sectarian civil war in the North, which cast a dark shadow over the whole island, and bitter struggles for intellectual, civil and sexual freedoms. The Church fought a long rearguard action to defend its entrenched positions in education, healthcare and childcare. The truth about child abuse and institutional cruelty emerged slowly, and women still had to die to make possible the liberalisation of Irish laws on contraception and divorce.

This is a very personal history by a writer who is considered by many to be the country’s leading public intellectual. He was a participant in many of the controversies and arguments of the past 35 years and knew the leading literary, musical and political figures of those decades.

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