We all know that there was nothing inevitable about much of
modern Ireland s history. Things could have turned out very
differently, so it is natural to wonder what would have happened if
certain events had never occurred or happened in a different way.
This book asks the question: What if?
This was the starting point for Diarmaid Ferriter s RTE Radio
One series on which this book is based. He looks attwenty events in
twentieth-century Ireland and discusses each withtwo experts to
speculate on how things might have developed had circumstances been
different. In doing so, the programmes also shed much new light on
what actually did happen; how Ireland changed during the course of
the twentieth century and the experiences of those who lived
The big questions are tackled: what if there had been no 1916
Rising; if Ireland had been invaded during the Second World War; if
there had been no programmes for economic expansion; if Mary
Robinson had not been elected president in 1990? But the book also
poses other, less obvious, questions: what if Joyce and Beckett had
stayed in Ireland; if Britain had blocked Irish immigration in the
1950s; if there had been no 'Late Late Show', or 'Magill' magazine
or no Ben Dunne revelations; if Bishop Eamon Casey had never met
Annie Murphy, or John Charles McQuaid had never been Archbishop of
'What If?' not only offers a glimpse of what might have been, it
is also an entertaining, thoughtful, provocative and original look
at some of the milestones of twentieth-century Irish history."
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