2021 Festival – Episode 4.
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When Dubliner Derek Scally goes to Christmas Eve Mass on a visit home from Berlin, he finds more memories than congregants in the church where he was once an altar boy. Not for the first time, the collapse of the Catholic Church in Ireland brings to mind the fall of another powerful ideology – East German communism. While Germans are engaging earnestly with their past, Scally sees nothing comparable going on in his native land. So he embarks on a quest to unravel the tight hold the Church had on the Irish.
The Best Catholics in the World is the remarkable result of his three-year journey. With wit, wisdom and compassion Scally gives voice and definition to the murky and difficult questions that face a society coming to terms with its troubling past. It is both a lively personal odyssey and a resonant and gripping work of reporting that is a major contribution to the story of Ireland.
Derek Scally has written for the Irish Times since 2000. He is based in Berlin. The Best Catholics in the World is his first book.
Rachael English is a journalist and writer. She is presenter of Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1. Her latest book, The Paper Bracelet, is published by Hachette UK.
The Dublin Festival of History is brought to you by Dublin City Council, and organised by Dublin City Libraries, in partnership with Dublin City Council Culture Company.