a Home | Search Clare County Library Catalogue | Search this Website

The Same Age as the State by Máire Cruise O’Brien
Published by The O’Brien Press Ltd., Dublin, 2003

Máire Cruise O’Brien, or Máire Mhac an tSaoi, was born in 1922, shortly after the Irish Civil War broke out. This book is a collection of her memories and musings on her own life and the parallel development of the fledgling State of Ireland. As she says “The era for which I speak was no mean era, and the people who inhabited it no mean people.” She was born in interesting times and to interesting people. Both her parents were active in the fight for Irish freedom and subsequently in the anti –Treaty side. When the Civil War ended in May 1923 her father, Seán Mac Entee was a founder member of the Fianna Fáil party and served in various Ministries in Fianna Fáil Governments until the ‘60s.

This is a warm, funny, and anecdotal stroll through the traditions, culture , politics, religion and language of the emerging Ireland of the twentieth century. Máire Cruise is an erudite and interesting woman, a poet and diplomat and Celtic Scholar. She was reared between Dublin and Dunquin, where one of her eminent uncles had a house. Reading this book one meets the great and the good (and not so good) of Irish society in the twentieth century. Through her uncles she had access to the highest Church circles and her father’s position as Government Minister ensured that she rubbed shoulders with the political personages of the day. Her own career as a Diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs, where she was the first woman administrative officer to be recruited by competitive examination, was not without incident.

She met her husband Conor Cruise O’Brien, who also worked in Foreign Affairs, and became embroiled in scandal because he was already married.
His political career, both in the United Nations and the Irish Labour Party led to more interesting times for his family.

This is a lovely book – it reads like a nice cosy chat with an intelligent, sweet, little old lady, so that it is easy to forget the formidable brain behind the genuine sweetness of this lady. Máire Cruise O’Brien sets out her principles very firmly, criticises what she believes to be cant and hypocrisy without ever being bombastic or preaching. This is a book which is well worth reading.

Reviewed by Marie, a Clare County Library staff member.