Mass and masquerade in Ireland

Something bizarre has been happening in Ireland. On the one hand, the ban on public religious observance throughout the pandemic has seemed draconian. Whereas public worship has continued up the road in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland has been almost alone among European countries to persist with such a ban, leading to comparisons with the Cromwellian bloodbaths of the mid-seventeenth century and the Penal Laws imposed after the Reformation by the Protestant parliament. But there is also a doubt whether this ban actually existed throughout the pandemic in the first place, and herein lies the true story of Ireland now.