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The Follower

The Letter, Issue 14, Autumn 1998, Pages 39 - 61


THE FOLLOWER*

Helen Sheehan


As the President of the United States of America William Jefferson Clinton signed the new Electronics Treaty at Gateway Computers in September of this year, we are reminded that home may no longer be a space we occupy in language but a glint in the smooth seductions of a radar beam. Kathym Holmquist, in The Irish Times, put it succinctly thus: 'The Irish Dream of the 1990's celebrates the computer and seeks a better quality of life through the profitable movement of information through cyberspace'.[1]

It is almost a commonplace now to say that profound social changes are underway in the Ireland of the 90's.[2] We can say that these changes began in the 1960's. An Ireland on the run like Richard Kimble, in The Fugitive, as exemplified in Michael O'Louglin's poem of the same name, published in 1982.[3]

In the hour before the metro opens I remember you, Richard Kimble with my hands dug deep in my jacket pockets

walking the streets of a foreign city.


But if the 1960's are remembered as the fugitive years in more ways than one, the 1970's are characterised by the particular modernisation of Ireland and are marked also by being a decade of the return. The symbolic verification of Ireland's entry into the 20th century was acknowledged when on January 1st 1970, half crowns went out of circulation to be replaced by the new 50 pence coin.[4]

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