Changing Times 1960–1975



‘In retrospect, the 1960s, that time I remember as suffocating and dull’, writes Fergal Keane, ‘was a period of seismic change in Ireland.’2 Mary Kenny ‘remembered vividly’ the revolutionary impact when she watched a BBC programme on the contraceptive pill in I960.3 Yet changes had already begun. People in the east of the republic had been able to tune into BBC television since 1953. In 1955 Ireland joined the United Nations, and in 1958 the IMF and the World Bank. In 1963 RTE began television broadcasts. Average annual emigration rates fell from 43,000 in the late 1950s to 16,000 in the early 1960s, and to 11,000 in the late 1960s. In 1963 Senator Ross assured pupils at Christ Church Cathedral School that they need no longer think of emigration, for although there had been a time ‘when many Protestants felt that unless they could get work in a Protestant firm, they might not get work easily’, now ‘people no longer worried about whether one was a Protestant or not’.4 Indeed as he spoke the Second Vatican Council in Rome was making decisions which would profoundly affect the way in which Roman Catholic and Protestants would inter-relate. That soon became clear in Ireland. When the Protestant benefactor of the Irish state, Chester Beattie, died in 1968, the funeral ‘proved to be unique in Irish life as it was the first in a Protestant church attended by the Taoseach and President’.5 But there was another side to the story.


British Government Church Leader Protestant Church Religious Discrimination Moral High Ground 
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© Alan J. Megahey 2000

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