This is a tightly, personally detailed view of contemporary Ireland as the ""ould sod"" and it gives way to a more fertile landscape. The Irish Republic--""Catholic Ireland"" which is what this book is about, is changing from its stagnant, cowed position of ""glum fatalism"" to an enthusiasm for the future although the irishman-in-the-street, an incorrigible skeptic, would be the first to point out: ""Ireland has a great future, but then she always has had."" Mr. Connery reviews the past in relation to the present. . . and the indisputably marked traits of the people with their imagination and ""irregular logic,"" their contempt for western values in a society based on an ""aristocracy of personality."" He discusses the influence of television which is negating the isolationism of the past, the new ideas to which particularly the young people are responding; the changing relationships with a church that is losing its tenacious hold on the congregation; the artistic movement and the enlightened political awareness. His concern and enthusiasm for this cantankerously evolving people give this book both interest and charm. And Saints preserve 'em, the sons and daughters should snap it up.