IT IS TIME that Dr Johnson's now hackneyed remark, 'The Irish are a fair people: they never speak well of one another,' was rephrased for the twenty-first century. Perhaps 'The Irish are a fair people: they never do anything else but talk about each other' would be appropriate. The 'Irish Studies' industry, once suspected of being a fad of the 1990s, shows no signs of decline. Intellectual introspection, bordering on narcissism, remains the principal national pastime of this people.
To observe this phenomenon one only has to go into a Dublin bookshop, where row upon row of tomes can be found under the heading Irish Studies - and consider that there isn't a corresponding section in English bookshops. Not a summer school will pass in any year without one