The 1950s was a decade of international economic recovery in the United States and most of Western Europe after the disasters of World War II. There was just one exception. The Irish economy actually contracted in those years, and over four hundred thousand people, out of a population of fewer than three million, emigrated.
Tom Garvin’s survey of the 1950s is based largely on a close reading of contemporary newspaper reports and analyses.
This darkest decade of the Irish state was brought about by an aging government that overstayed its welcome and an ideology of rural frugality that was supported by an under-developed educational system and the overweening power of the Catholic Church.
Garvin also traces the rise of the generation that broke this consensus and carried Ireland into the free-trade boom of the 1960s.