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? not only offers a glimpse of what might have been, it is also an entertaining, thoughtful, provocative and original look at some of the milestones of twentieth century Irish history.
What If? Alternative Views of Twentieth-Century Ireland: Table of Contents
- What if there had been no Late Late Show?
- What if there had been no pro-life amendment referendum in 1983?