Dad’s Diary

Dad’s Diary

It is the most natural thing in the world for parents to want to pass on their values and way of life to their children. This is how cultures survive. Yet in Ireland, what was once the traditional way of life is in danger of disappearing.

The beliefs which underpinned the traditional Irish way of life are increasingly under assault by both the Irish State and the wider culture. The State’s new ideas of right and wrong are increasingly at odds with what were, for centuries, the core values of the Irish people. There is a cultural chasm opening up between those who wish to continue living in ways that chime with the traditional Irish way of life, and those who have constructed a radically new Irish culture and identity – one which comes complete with a totally revised belief system and even a brand-new accent.

It’s jarring to arrive in a village in West Cork and to find yourself surrounded by people who speak and act in ways completely at odds with how Irish people have traditionally behaved. At certain times of year, the more materialistic elements of what is often termed the ‘D4 crowd’ arrive and overwhelm certain places. Such loud-mouthed, ostentatious displays of status-seeking are completely at odds with the traditional values and way of life in Ireland. It provides a sharp contrast with the way people still act in rural Ireland.

A certain friendly humility and a kindly sense of fellow feeling have long been the hallmarks of the Irish people. The show-off conduct of a certain type of visiting American once stood out as noticeably foreign. Yet nowadays we have Irish citizens with quasi-American accents behaving in the very same way. The same people will pass others dead-eyed on a remote path and not return a greeting. I remember hiking in Germany in the 1990s and being amazed that people would just walk silently past each other on quiet rural ways. In Ireland, the humanity of the other person was always acknowledged, but not by this new Irish culture.

Irish society is dividing culturally, and we are rapidly becoming foreigners to one another. The earthy Christian morality which infused Irish culture for centuries is now in reality a minority faith. Catholicism is particularly hated by the new, ascendant Irish culture. The Irish State is rapidly embracing this new way of being and all its fashionable causes. The new Ireland prioritises wealth at all costs and sees faith as a dangerous superstition. It imitates the secular morality of other Western countries, which Ireland was obstinately slow to adopt for centuries.

The Irish State is making moves to control what schools with a Christian ethos can teach children about morality. The State now has very different ideas to those traditionally held in Ireland across all the usual hot topics of divorce, abortion, transgenderism and so on. The demands for the removal of religious ethos from schools grow louder by the day. The State wants to teach Irish children its new creed. Competing ideologies wish to mould children according to their ideas. Ireland’s culture war is undeclared, but it is underway nonetheless.

Irish religion teachers warn that kids who practise faith are now inordinately subject to bullying. Anything resembling traditional values are anathema. Yet the new Irish culture has a profound weakness. It is following the same demographic pattern of all western countries which have embraced those same precepts. Ireland’s birth rate has collapsed to 1.6 children per woman.

Yet across those swathes of rural Ireland where something resembling the traditional way of life still prevails, families of three and four children are still the norm. Many of those children can see that the old way of life has a beauty, which is deeply rooted in time and place. The future of the indigenous Irish way of life depends on whether our children will carry on that way of life. The question is which of the two Irelands will have the greater allure to them in the decades ahead. The answer will decide the future of our culture. No wonder there is such a battle brewing for our control of our children’s schools.