Source: Wide Angle: "Mixed Blessings"
The days of the Catholic Church’s overarching influence on Irish life and society are now gone. Economic prosperity has accelarated Ireland’s move away from the beleaguered Church toward European secularism. In this video from Wide Angle, learn about the sale of the Sacred Heart Church which has been serving the community in Limerick for almost 150 years.
Europe Map (Image)
Ireland Map (Image)
Modern Ireland is now one of the most prosperous nations in Europe, for several reasons: economic dependence on the UK has decreased, there is reverse immigration, and a global economy is expanding. Real estate prices are soaring, women are entering the workforce in record numbers, and droves of foreign workers, particularly from Eastern Europe, have come to Ireland hoping to find work. For once in its history, Ireland is prosperous, modern, and a country full of immigrants to the country, instead of emigrants away from it.
All this prosperity is not without its downside, however. As a result of the economic transformation, self-sufficient towns with strong community ties have been replaced by cities, with their share of urban problems. The increase of women in the workforce has also created a change in family structure - family size has decreased and there is a struggle to balance home and work responsibilities. Furthermore, the Catholic church is in jeopardy - gone are the days when the parish priest was revered and Catholic doctrine was central in both government policy and private life.
The city of Limerick, which is located on the River Shannon, is an example of the transformations happening in Ireland. Limerick was historically an agricultural area. Since the 1990s, Limerick's industries and its fortunes have turned - the city has prospered in an economic boom and many multinational companies such as Dell, Analog Devices, and Vistakon are now based in Limerick. These companies now employ thousands of people and contribute substantially to the Irish Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Some see this rapid economic development as a mixed blessing, because at the same time as Limerick becomes more prosperous, traditions and beliefs are also being threatened. People who fondly recall "the good old days" are concerned about the changes within their city and country.
This clip is taken from an episode of Wide Angle called "Mixed Blessings." In this film, many aspects of Limerick's transformation are explored. These include economic development, increased immigration and decreased emigration, urbanization, agricultural problems, real estate bubbles, working women, and secularization.
MYERS In the latest census we were asked to indicate our religious persuasion and when the figures have been counted it will indicate that Ireland now has a diverse range of world religions being practiced here.
Gone is the reverence shown towards the Catholic Church and with that the stranglehold on Irish society has been released. What happens when the attendance falls?
NARRATOR The real estate market has enjoyed a spectacular decade of ever-rising prices. What were once tenement slums in the days of Angela's Ashes are now multi-million dollar redevelopment sites. Des O'Malley is a local realtor with a new property to market.
DES O'MALLEY Well, I suppose I did the first 20 years of my life Limerick and I went to Dublin for 10 years to work in the property market there where I thought it was very spectacular growth. I came back to Limerick in the late '90s and I actually couldn't recognize the city. People seem much happier in Limerick because of the amount of rejuvenation that's taken place.
They feel a little more pride in their city and you find that people are actually trying to push the boundaries of redevelopment of design and in terms of scale of projects. Where before people were very reticent about taking on a big development, now they seem to be much more bullish.
NARRATOR O'Malley's new property is for sale by public tender. Confidential written offers will be unsealed in one day's time. The sale will usually go to the highest bidder. But in this case there are some special considerations.
The asking price is over 5 million dollars.
O'MALLEY As you can see, we have, we are absolutely delighted to have the Jesuit Church and residence for sale. It's a significant piece of real estate in Limerick City. It's very unusual to get something of this quality and of this glorious nature to come up on the market. Probably the future uses of this will be something like a theatre or a boutique hotel or possibly even a place of worship.
NARRATOR The Sacred Heart Church in the center of Limerick has been offering services for almost 150 years.
In the last 30 years, numbers attending mass in Ireland have halved and only eight priests were ordained this year.
Father Dermot Murray recently joined the congregation.
DERMOT MURRAY I was given the mission of overseeing the process of closing the church. The decision had already been made by the Jesuit Province Authorities and I said, "yes," because I have never asked for any job in the Jesuits but I've always accepted what they asked me to do.
NARRATOR Churchgoers have not accepted the sale. John Leonard, a lay minister at the church has launched a personal crusade.
JOHN LEONARD I felt very sad and very disappointed and I just couldn't believe it, you know. I thought that if my uncle heard about that he'd turn in his grave really, you know. It's unthinkable that they should close such a beautiful church.
Academic standards correlations on Teachers' Domain use the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of state and national standards, provided to NSDL projects courtesy of JES & Co.
We assign reference terms to each statement within a standards document and to each media resource, and correlations are based upon matches of these terms for a given grade band. If a particular standards document of interest to you is not displayed yet, it most likely has not yet been processed by ASN or by Teachers' Domain. We will be adding social studies and arts correlations over the coming year, and also will be increasing the specificity of alignment.