A JUST SOCIETY FOR IRELAND? 1964-1987
My second monograph – A Just Society for Ireland? – will be published by Palgrave Macmillan on 14 November 2013. Fine Gael’s demise has been periodically predicted since 1933. Yet it has survived, becoming the largest party in the state after the 2011 general election. Drawing on interviews with key players and previously unused archival sources, this book offers a fascinating account of a critical period in Fine Gael’s history when the party was challenged to define its place in Irish politics. The central role played by Declan Costello is disclosed for the first time. Although he was never party leader, his Just Society proposals transformed Fine Gael by encouraging a new generation of socially-minded politicians, while his agenda for change paved the way for Garret FitzGerald. Exploring the continuities and discontinuities between Costello’s Just Society and FitzGerald’s Constitutional Crusade, the book documents how the internal debate shaped the party and provides an insight into the origins of an identity crisis with which Fine Gael continues to struggle. It also offers a commentary on Irish society, and explores the difficulties faced by an older generation as it sought to locate itself in a changing Ireland.
Liam Cosgrave / Ard Fheis image by kind permission of Fine Gael.
Available to pre-order here.
My first monograph – The Cosgrave Party – was published by the Royal Irish Academy in late 2010. The Star, an Irish newspaper, suggested in 1931 that ‘Cumann na nGaedheal should have a proud place in history’. However, this pride of place has not always been afforded to the party that governed Ireland during the first decade of independence in the pages of the history books. Even members of Fine Gael, the party’s natural successor, regularly overlook their antecedents. The aim of my book was to redress that, by evaluating the party and locating its place in Irish history.
Most political parties are created to win power, but Cumann na nGaedheal was built by men already running a country. The Cosgrave Party tells the unique story of a political party born into government amidst the bloodshed of the civil war. It reveals the true complexity of Cumann na nGaedheal and investigates the internal politics of the party as it struggled with ideological tensions and personality clashes. All occurring while its leaders simultaneously ran a government and built a state, despite threats from those both outside and within the political system. Finally, it fixes the party’s role in Irish history of consolidating the tradition of constitutional nationalism in Ireland.
‘Ciara Meehan’s book brings a fresh perspective on an overlooked period of Irish history, as well as insights into the probable policies of Ireland’s next government’ ~ Prof John P. McCarthy (Fordham University), The Irish Echo, 2 March 2011.
‘Ciara Meehan’s The Cosgrave Party is the first monograph devoted solely to the Cumann na nGaedheal party, and as such is an important addition to the literature. Its novel focus on electioneering, in particular, should make this book noteworthy to historians of the Irish revolution, and to those interested in the 20th century more broadly’ ~ Dr Jason Knirck (Central Washington University), Reviews in History, 9 September 2011.
Available to buy here.