Editor’s comment: John Murphy, who married my sister, Felicia, in 1970 teased that his job in the Irish Immigration office at Dublin Castle was a lonely one “while the folks across the hall in Emigration are frantically busy”. My interest in my grandparents’ home country has been heightened by my own sister’s residency there for most of the last 50 years and so this book perhaps has greater value to me than another. Still, anyone interested in cultural change and commentary will be blown away by O’Toole’s writing and observation skills. Essentially, it’s a tale of an nation moving from an agricultural backwater with an ancient faith-driven inferiority complex to an open-minded global economy. In one generation.
Excerpt: “What is possible now, and was entirely impossible when I was born, is this: to accept the unknown without being so terrified of it that you have to take refuge in fabrications of absolute conviction.”