Ireland has been in the process of a great awakening from the oppression of the Catholic church. There has been something lost. But to hear stories of the massive influence of religion in all facets of Irish life less than a generation ago, one might think twice about bemoaning any "loss." The Irish are still a God-loving people, and still Catholic. The Church and its rule has decreased in power, though. Children are no longer beaten in school, only to be beaten again at home if the parents find out. That happened regularly, by the stories I've heard.
Ireland is now an excellent place to be for a man as myself who has deep skepticism about the rule of religion in the public sector and in one's private life. I am able to think freely here, to believe as I will, and to express my opinion on the matters. From what I read in the papers, I don't think I would be as comfortable in the United States.