- 21 Jul 17
The time for hiding from the lights was over. In so many respects modern Ireland was born in 1987. And central to that was the huge artistic and commercial success of The Joshua Tree...
Thirty years is a long time. With the pace of change constantly accelerating, you could reasonably surmise that it is longer now than it has ever been. The old line is that the past is another country. There are few places in western Europe where that is more true than Ireland. But it is also a fact that we know more now about what went on back then, than we had any hope of finding out at the time. The headlines were inescapable in 1987, as they are today, and they tell part of the story. But the intervening years have brought out into the open much that was deliberately suppressed or swept under the carpet, especially here in Ireland.
From this vantage point, we can look back at events that might have seemed disconnected then and know differently. There is a sense that a changing of the guard – which had begun ten years earlier with the launch of Hot Press and the success of The Boomtown Rats, among other things – had hit another critical juncture.
The year began with the collapse of the Fine Gael-led government, ending Garret Fitzgerald’s tenure as Taoiseach. An embattled Charlie Haughey led Fianna Fáil to a not un-respectable 81 seats in the ensuing general election. It was not quite the ringing endorsement that the party might have anticipated with the collapse of the FG-Labour coalition, and the economy in shreds. Meanwhile, the newly fangled Progressive Democrats took 14 seats and it looked as if a major new political force had been born.