Blame the Catholics

Reading the Irish Independent newspaper on the train from Dublin to Cork I came across an editorial by Mary Kenny captioned “Old Protestant virtues can help us through this economic crisis.” Her opening point is that successful businesses in Ireland – Guinness beer, Jameson whiskey, and Jacobs, a biscuit company – prospered because their senior managements were Protestant.

With modernisation, everything changed in society, and generally for theP1010629 better. We do not discriminate against individuals, nowadays, on grounds of their religion: or if we did, we would be ashamed to admit it. And yet, was there some substance in the traditional belief that Protestant cultures were steadier and more reliable when it came to handling money, while Catholic societies might be more reckless and improvident.

She expands her point to take in the entire European Union. Germany, the Netherlands and Finland are prospering while Catholic Portugal, Ireland and Greece struggle. Tony Blair, a Catholic convert, was in favor of England joining the EU while Gordon Brown, a “son of the manse” who admired his father’s “formidably Calvinist Presbyterian” values, kept Britain out, Kenny notes. Never mind the history of official discrimination against Catholics. Never mind that Blair’s conversion to Catholicism came after his term as Prime Minister had ended, nor that Catholics are the largest religious groups in Germany and in the Netherlands. Never mind that Iceland, an EU country in which all three of its major banks collapsed, is 80 percent Lutheran.

I shouldn’t be surprised; This is from the Wikipedia entry for the Independent:P1010622

During the 1913 Lockout of workers, in which [Independent owner William] Murphy was the leading figure among the employers, the Irish Independent vigorously sided with its owner’s interests, publishing news reports and opinion pieces hostile to the strikers, expressing confidence in the unions’ defeat and launching personal attacks on the leader of the strikers, James Larkin. The Irish Independent described the 1916 Easter Rising as “insane and criminal” and famously called for the shooting of its leaders. In December 1919, during the Irish War of Independence, a group of twenty IRA men destroyed the printing works of the paper, angered at its criticism of the Irish Republican Army and largely pro-British and Unionist stance.

About Saint Expedite

Retired early, then took a trip across the Pacific from Seattle by container ship. From China I stopped in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, Holland, Denmark, England and Ireland before heading home to Puget Sound. This blog is an account of my travels. Write to me at
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2 Responses to Blame the Catholics

  1. Herb Jepko says:


    As much as I generally detest your fellow Seattle-ite Rick Steves, sometimes he does have insight. Some of his observations re: west coast of Ireland, make sense, esp. getting around without a car.

    I can’t ignore the irony when he states that Doolin used to be a musical oasis, but now is overrun by tourists. Really, Rick? And just who told all those tourists about Doolin in the first place?

    • Steves always reminds me of Ned Flanders from The Simpsons in his style and voice, although not in his views. He has made quite a business for himself which is headquartered in downtown Edmonds.

      Not sure if I’ll make it to Doolin although I’ll try.

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