The Fianna Fáil Party was founded in 1926 and first came to Government in 1932. From that date until 2010, it has completely dominated the political life of the Republic of Ireland. For all but 13 of those 78 years, it has formed the Government of Ireland, either on its own or as the dominant party in a coalition.
Fianna Fáil has always seen itself as more than a party. Its self-image has been that of a national movement, one that represented the nation in microcosm and superseded partisan and regional prejudices. While holding this view of itself, it also managed to be the most ruthlessly, successful and professional party machine in Europe.
Noel Whelan, the distinguished political commentator and columnist, is steeped in the Fianna Fáil tradition. In this book, he traces the party's fortunes from its foundation by Eamon deValera and Seén Lemass in the 1920s through the economic war of the 1930, war time neutrality and stagnation of the 1950s.
Lemass's Governments of the 1960s, generally regarded as the best in the history of the State, restored the Country's fortunes, but the 70s and 80s were locust years dominated by the divisive and charismatic figure of Charles J. Haughey.
Under the later leadership of Bertie Ahern, party divisions were healed, and it seemed that national divisions were healed with them. An economic boom was allowed recklessly to run out of control with the result that the party, having brought Irish prosperity to a new peak, was then blamed for the sudden violence of the crash. The general election of 2011 reduced Fianna Fáil to its lowest ebb since it was founded. It may not have marked the end of the party, but it clearly marked the end of an era that began in 1932.