Between the 1960s and the 1990s, through his journalism, books and pamphlets, Desmond Fennell acquired a wide and varied readership. Immersed as he was in the affairs of Ireland – the art scene in Dublin, the implementation of the Second Vatican Council, the restatement of Irish identity, the completion of the Irish Revolution, decentralisation of government, solving the Northern problem – it became apparent to readers that they were dealing with an unusual kind of Irish intellectual, not readily assignable to any of the usual Irish categories.
In The Turning Point: My Sweden Year and After, Desmond Fennell reveals the story of his intellectual development from his teenage years in Dublin to the 1990s in that same city. The books focus, however, is on his thirty-first year, 1960, which he spent largely in Sweden. Sweden was to have been the culmination of eight years spent by Fennell in Europe and Asia enlarging his knowledge of the world and mankind. Sweden was then the avant-garde country of the western world, the place where the future was being pioneered, and he went there believing that he would relish that future. But the reverse occurred, with a result that shaped his life in the following decades. Disappointed and shocked by what he found there, his worldview fell apart. Returning to Ireland, he was faced with the task of reconstructing a view of the age that corresponded with its reality.
In his final chapter, The Rest of My Life So Far, Fennell recounts his battle against the tide in a Republic of Ireland that, far from completing the Revolution, was becoming a province again.
The Turning Point is an extraordinary piece of vivid narrative and searching introspection by one of Irelands most creative thinkers, who now lives in Italy. “