And so what of our Republic in this year of 2013?
The summer schools generated a debate on the current state of Ireland in recent weeks.
Some commentators and newspaper editorial writers put pen to paper on the issue.
Opinion is divided.
One school of thought is that the country is banjaxed, a word used by Gay Byrne when he dominated the airwaves during the recession of the 1980’s.
Another is that the institutions of the State are essentially working and that doing down the country is a bad thing and will hinder recovery.
Indeed, that well know expert on everything from the state of the Republic to the retention of the Seanad, Michael McDowell, was scathing about the critics of the Republic’s institutions at one summer school and warned about “self-hatred or negativity.”
He called for loyalty to the State and the Constitution and insisted that, by and large, the Government institutions had served citizens well.
Well, Mr McDowell would say that, would he not?
His party, the late and unlamented Progressive Democrats, participated in Governments which destroyed this Republic.
And make no mistake about it, whatever some former politicians and commentators are saying, this Republic has been destroyed.
Those putting forward the view that refusing to recognise this reality, not engaging in “negativity” as they would see it, will in some way help in our recovery is nonsense.
This country has a habit of putting its head in the sand at a time of crisis.
The results for the Irish people have always been catastrophic. Our Republic is battered and broken.
Look at the reality: massive unemployment, dreadful levels of forced emigration, towns and villages in seemingly irreversible decline in some cases, unfinished housing estates pockmarking the country. And what of the corruption exposed in high places in recent years?
The Irish people are not to blame.
Those responsible are the people the running of the Republic was entrusted to. They include bankers, politicians, some of those at senior levels in the public service.
Some of the smug among the chattering classes would, no doubt, like the view to prevail that the Republic has not failed at all. Sure, there has been an economic downturn. But these things happen, you understand.
Those holding that view usually come from a position where the economic war has not impacted on them at all.
Take, Mr McDowell, for instance. When the voters of Dublin South East gave him his walking papers, he left politics with a handsome pension which will, no doubt, be a comfort when he retires from the lucrative pastures of the Law Library.
Contrast his lot with that of somebody who worked 40 years for a modest occupational pension and saw it eroded in the run-up to retirement. People in that category of Irish life are very much witnesses to our broken Republic.
Go to any of our airports in the summer, Christmas or Easter, and witness the dreadful emotional scenes as our young people leave in droves to get work abroad.
True, they are better prepared than previous generations. #
They are better educated. Social media means they have easy contact with home.
But the bottom line remains that these young people are being denied the most basic right of a job by their own country.
Those suggesting that the Republic is basically fine are perpetuating a myth used in this country before.
Our history books buried the reality of the brutal Civil War. Our utter failure to develop the economy following the Second World War has never been fully analysed.
That old rogue Eamon de Valera could say in the early 1950s that emigration was not necessary at all. There were enough jobs in Ireland for everybody. He ensured that he had a job for himself right into advanced old age, via the Dail and the Presidency.
The bombastic and largely ineffectual James Dillon could dismiss patriots like James Connolly and Jim Larkin as “communists.”
He ignored what Larkin, in particular, had done for Dublin’s poor and oppressed. This Republic has failed.
Let us continue with our quest for economic and social salvation on that basis.