In effect, this is a new country. Yet, for all of the talk it is one which remains largely unexplored. Indeed, New Ireland’s own narrative about itself is one that remains largely unquestioned both by Irish people and visitors to Ireland. The reality may well be that liberal Ireland’s own smug self-congratulatory accolades about itself obscure some troubling truths.
This is now one of the most centralized countries in Europe, one increasingly centred on the Dublin metropolitan area. It is an Ireland in which the State has never exercised as much influence over the lives of its citizens. Ireland’s emerging city state is one increasingly guided and shepherded by a burgeoning NGO sector.
In spite of its unrelenting trumpeting about equality, economic inequality has never been greater. Despite its liberal affectations it would appear that groupthink, long associated with an older Catholic Ireland, is also one of the dominant features of this New Ireland. It may have a new narrative about itself but the reality is that New Ireland remains a strangely closeted place.
Part cultural history and part social and political discourse, Muzak is an exploration of an Ireland in transition between the years 2016 and 2020. The starting point for this is the 2016 commemoration of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the seminal act in the foundation of an independent Ireland. While dutifully commemorating this event and ritually genuflecting before the ideals of its dead, it is obvious that this is now a different Ireland with a decidedly different orientation.
A century after its foundation as an independent country, this account takes a look at some of the newly created myths of New Ireland. This journey from old to new maps out the cultural, political and social landscape of a new country. Muzak: Inside Ireland 2016-20 is a journey through New Ireland and its myths and legends.