With stores jammed with chocolate bunnies and half of Ireland packed into the off-license the day before the “End Times” (the nationwide Good Friday moratorium on alcohol), religion has been on my mind a bit this week. With visions of Cadbury caramel crucifixes and the Kinder Egg Last Supper set (collect all thirteen pieces) dancing in my head (oh, if only they were real), it occurred to me how odd it is (given where I live and the name/subject of this blog) that I’ve never written about religion in Ireland. The time has come.
For me, the thing that I find most compelling about religion, all religions, is never the actual belief system; it is the concept of faith. And, right or wrong, whatever they may be (Catholic, Protestant, Manchester United fans, or just from Cork), and whatever their failings are, the Irish are people of faith.
The eternal Irish optimism, that cheery disposition, is a vote for the future. Their constant, often annoying, refrain, “Sure it’ll be grand” is nothing if not a belief that even if it all goes pear-shaped, there will be good craic (for you Americans, that’s not “crack”, it’s just Irish for “fun”).
The ease with which the Irish have absorbed the twin body blows of political and religious thuggery, and endless rounds of boom/bust cycles is surely a nod in the direction of faith. It may be that they have faith in something worse being just around the corner, but the Irish believe in a future, any future.
Their constant discussion of the weather, and prognostications about the next few days is a way of reminding themselves that things always change. And, good or bad, change implies a kind of forward momentum. Whether they have hope for the future or not, the Irish can be counted on to count on change.
So, when we say that the Irish are a people of faith, it really does mean more than just “religion”.
I thank God for that.
Dublin, April 2015
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
Water Rights (Yeah, right)
Finding the “Right” City For You