Via Michael Brendan Dougerty in The National Review:
…Some countries, like the United States, have never been as strict. Others, like Israel or New Zealand, took harsher and more stringent measures than Ireland ever did, but did so for much shorter bursts of time, with the aim of relaxation. Ireland, however, seems to have a lockdown perfectly calibrated to be a marathon of penitence, anxiety, and misery.
A brief relaxation is followed immediately by a terrible surge in cases, and the door slams shut again. It has never been strict enough to exit more thoroughly, as has been done in Australia and New Zealand, but the restrictions of daily life over 14 months have been much more difficult and emotionally taxing than anything known in America.
…The humiliation is close to home, too. The U.K. also had absurdly intrusive lockdown policies. But now, Northern Ireland, the part of the U.K. that sits on the same island as the Republic, has vaccinated nearly 40 percent of its population. Ireland sits just at 10 percent.
Why is it like this? Isn’t Ireland a land of rebellion? Beyond voices like Gary Dempsey, not really. Social critic Conor Fitzgerald has diagnosed Ireland’s political culture as suffering from an acute case of “goodboyism,” which he defines as “the tendency in the Irish establishment to ostentatiously direct themselves towards external sources of cultural authority over and before the Irish populace.”
Resistance to lockdown is associated with Donald Trump, or troglodyte Tory backbenchers. Ireland self-image is more enlightened and progressive than that. The Royal Irish College of Physicians made Dr. Anthony Fauci an honorary fellow this March. He proceeded to warn them against getting too frisky too soon. Pat on the head received: Good boy!
…On Easter Sunday, a priest said Mass on the rocks of Achill, where the Mass was said the last time a government in Ireland made saying it vaguely criminal. Two men in Dublin, both getting their 5k of exercise, met and brought lilies to the General Post Office, which was the site of Ireland’s great rebellion in 1916. They were conscientious men who would have no truck with lockdown skeptics.
But, for this patriotic act, they were hassled by the Guards. “You’re not exercising.” In fact, this gesture was an exercise of sorts. Commemorating that place on that day in Ireland summons people to contemplate the “unfettered control of Irish destinies.”