It’s fair to say that the reputation of “Catholic Ireland” has taken a continuous beating in recent times. Books with titles like Republic of Shame and The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland, among many others, chronicle a society once considered to contain “the best Catholics in the world” now in retreat from its ancestral faith, and indeed manifesting a marked hostility towards that faith.

he words “dark theocracy”, “toxic theocracy”, and “Ireland’s dark theocratic past” often crop up in public discourse. An Irish-American writer, Niall O’Dowd, has even likened Catholic Ireland to “one giant concentration camp”.

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