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Did the Enlightenment bypass Ireland?


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The Age of Enlightenment, originating in the 17th century and gaining ground during the 18th century across Europe and it's (then) colonies in many ways seems to have bypassed Ireland. While Ireland during this era did produce philosophers, scientists and statesmen of note - it seemed to have had little impact on wider Irish society as a whole, at least in comparison to other European societies of the period. The deliberate founding of Maynooth College in an attempt to ward off any liberal ideologies by indoctrinating it's priests with anti-French Revolution rhetoric most likely played it's role as well. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the Catholic Church within Ireland saw itself as a bulwark against liberal and secular ideologies emanating from continental Europe, seeing to it that Ireland would reject these supposed wicked foreign influences.

It certainly seems by European standards that Ireland is late to the game. In only recent years has there been a true separation of Church and State for one, with other regions of Europe and elsewhere having made that distinction two centuries ago.


Tadhg Gaelach

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I think Maynooth was founded as a bulwark against French Republican Liberalism, and as a bastion of English class based Liberalism. That's one of the reasons the Irish are so confused today. They love all the trappings of English class society, but pretend to themselves that class doesn't exist in Ireland.

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