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Through a life the encompasses Irish tradition, culture, language, scholarship and poetry, as well as national and international politics, Maire Cruise O'Brien is uniquely placed to tell the complex story of the emergence and growth of Ireland as an independent country. Her life not only parallels that development; her family played an active part in it.
Born in 1922, she intimately remembers the generation of the 19th century - her grandparents - and their way of life and values. Her own parents' dangerous involvement in the struggle for freedom, in the company of Eamon deValera and Michael Collins, was a hugely important element in her young life, as was her father's subsequent work as a senior government minister. Part of the new Irish elite, she went on to become an Irish scholar, to study Celtic languages in Paris immediately after the Second World War, and was called to the Bar but chose instead to join the Department of External (now Foreign) Affairs. She was the 'token woman' on the first Irish UN delegation in New York; and she was charge d'affaires in Franco's Spain in the 1940s, with experiences both 'baroque and absurd'.
There she met and married Conor Cruise O'Brien, a rising star in the UN. Thereafter, her life took her to the Congo, Ghana, Europe and America, where Conor worked both academically and politically in highly dramatic situations. From her unique vantage point she vividly recalls the workings of the international community. Their return to Ireland and Conor's position as a government minister took her full circle.
Maire offers a fascinating insight into her eighty-plus years, drawing together threads from Celtic roots to far-flung political and diplomatic activities. Her interests are wide-ranging and her observation acute. Both homely and worldly, this book presents a rare personal perspective on the complete span of the twentieth century both in Ireland and around the world.
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