Saving the State: Fine Gael from Collins to Varadkar

Ciara Meehan, Stephen Collins

Research output: Book/ReportBook


When Fine Gael entered a coalition government with Fianna Fáil in 2020 the party did what would have been unthinkable for its forefathers who fought and won a bitter civil war to establish the institutions of an independent Irish state almost a century earlier. Saving the State is the remarkable story of Fine Gael from its origins in the fraught days of civil war to the political convulsions of 2020. 
Written by political journalist Stephen Collins and historian Ciara Meehan, Saving the State draws on a wealth of original historical research and a range of interviews with key political figures to chart the evolution of the party through the lens of its successive leaders. Some of them ended up in the Taoiseach’s office while others had to endure long periods of opposition, but what sustained them was the belief that the party had something unique to contribute to Irish political life.
From the special place in the party’s pantheon of heroes occupied by Michael Collins to the dark era of the Blueshirts, and from its role as the founders of the state to its claim to be the defenders of the state, the ways that members perceive their own history is also explored. Saving the State is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how Fine Gael came to be the party it is today, the ways in which it interprets and presents its own history, and the role that it played in shaping modern Ireland.
REVIEWS• 'A superb, illuminating and even-handed look at the highs and lows in Fine Gael's turbulent history', David McCullagh, author of DeValera Rise and DeValera Rule.• ‘Saving the State gives the unvarnished truth about the party’s murky beginnings and mixed political fortunes. It is an accessible and engaging account of one hundred years of politics told through the Fine Gael prism. The book succeeds in condensing complicated episodes without glossing over key facts and affords readers insights without overwhelming them with unnecessary details’ ~ David Murphy (RTÉ Political Coverage Editor)• ‘formidable, authoritative’ ~ Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post.• ‘This factionalism and rivalry is vividly depicted in this racy and readable book, which also provides a solid history of Fine Gael and does not shirk from examining the significant of its first president Eoin O’Duffy … This is a fine book, keenly priced and handsomely produced. My only quibble is with the title, which despite the authors’ explanations, continues to jar … But these are small matters and Stephen Collins and Ciara Meehan have made a valuable contribution to the canon of Irish political histories’ ~ David Davin Power (veteran political commentator and journalist), Irish Independent.• ‘Despite any misgivings over the title, it is certainly not the puff-piece in favour of Fine Gael that sections of the online community had pegged it to be … It is a tremendously well written book … Overall, this is an an interesting and engaging look at the history of one of the major parties within the Irish state’ ~ Barry Sheppard (Queen’s University, Belfast and Presenter of History Now on NVTV), The Irish Story blog.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDublin
PublisherGill Books
Number of pages400
ISBN (Print)9780717189731
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2020


  • Fine Gael
  • Irish politics


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