Tim Pat Coogan is better known for his Irish historic biographies, but The Irish: A personal view is an interesting collection of essays from the early 1970s reminiscent of of the New Journalism style of Tom Wolfe pre-Bonfire of the Vanities or The Right Stuff.
Wolfe and other exponents of new journalism who covered low and counter culture movements. In his book, Coogan deals with the everyman: the farmer, the factory worker and the publican. He also utilises establishment figures from the clergy, businesspeople, politicians and paramilitaries to help tell his story. He unmasks their insecurities and the apparent craic of events like the Listoonvarna festival is portrayed with its angst, longing and desperation exposed. He strips Irish society of its green-tinted lacquer and shows it unadulterated, but in the process becomes part of the story.
The society crippled and protected by its deference to clergy was very different from modern Irish society rocked by child abuse scandals, discount airlines, overly ambitious property speculators and rampant political corruption.
Its a good read if you want to understand the genesis of modern Ireland before the Celtic Tiger-hype.