What If? is an entertaining, thoughtful, provocative and original look at some of the milestones of twentieth century Irish history that offers a glimpse of what might have been.
We all know that there was nothing inevitable about much of modern Ireland’s history. Things could have turned out very differently, so it is natural to wonder what would have happened if certain events had never occurred or happened in a different way. What If? is the thought-provoking, enjoyable and insightful book that explores this conceit as its starting point, asking of key events in twentieth-century Ireland: ‘what if?’
Based on Diarmaid Ferriter’s acclaimed RTÉ Radio One series, the book looks at twenty events in twentieth-century Ireland, each of which was discussed on Ferriter’s show with two experts, and speculates on how things might have developed had circumstances been different. In doing so, Ferriter also sheds much new light on what actually did happen, how Ireland changed during the course of the twentieth century and the experiences of those who lived through it.
The big questions are tackled: what if there had been no 1916 Rising? What if Ireland had been invaded during World War II? What if there had been no programmes for economic expansion? What if Mary Robinson had not been elected president in 1990?
But the book also poses other, less obvious, questions: what if James Joyce and Samuel Beckett had stayed in Ireland; if Britain had blocked Irish immigration in the 1950s; if there had been no Late Late Show or Magill magazine; if Bishop Eamon Casey had never met Annie Murphy; or if John Charles McQuaid had never been Archbishop of Dublin?
What If? Alternative Views of Twentieth-Century Ireland: Table of ContentsIntroductionWhat if there had been no Late Late Show?What if there had been no pro-life amendment referendum in 1983?What if there had been no Magill magazine?What if John Charles McQuaid had not been appointed Archbishop of Dublin in 1940?What if Ben Dunne had not gone on a golfing trip to Florida in 1992?What if Bishop Eamon Casey’s secret had not been discovered?What if there had been no 1916 Rising?What if the Treaty ports had not been returned in 1938?What if the Blueshirts had attempted a coup in 1933?What if de Valera had stood down as leader of Fianna Fáil in 1948 instead of 1959?What if Donogh O’Malley had not introduced free secondary education in 1967?What if the Irish Press had not closed down in 1995?What if James Joyce and Samuel Beckett had stayed in Ireland?What if Frank Duff had not established the Legion of Mary in 1921?What if the Jim Duffy tape had not been released during the 1990 presidential election?What if Proportional Representation had been abolished in 1959 or 1968?What if T. K. Whitaker had not been appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance in 1956?What if the members of U2 had gone to different schools in the 1970s?What if Britain had imposed restrictions on Irish immigration in the 1950s?What if Noël Browne had not been involved in Irish politics?