5 Things Ireland Still Had During Italia 90


TODAY marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous day when “a nation held its breath”, as the Republic of Ireland emerged victorious from a second round clash with Romania at the Italia ’90 World Cup Finals.

For those who watched it on TV screens across the land, the memory is as fresh today as it was a quarter of a century ago, as the population celebrated the greatest ever victory by our national soccer team.

Those who were too young to remember it, or weren’t born at the time, may wonder what Ireland was like back on that day when our hopes and dreams rested on the boot of David O’Leary. So here’s a quick guide to 5 things Ireland still had back in 1990.

1) It was still legal to rape your wife

Back in 1990, Ireland still hadn’t gotten around to sorting out pesky things such as criminalising rape in marriage, so if you wanted to celebrate the epic victory of Jack’s lads by going home and bedding your missus only to find out that she “wasn’t in the mood”, then she was just shit out of luck. The act was eventually made unlawful in December of the same year, making this the last World Cup where an Irish man could legally have sex with his wife whether she wanted it or not.

2) Magdalene Laundries were still going strong


While Packie Bonner sailed through the air to block that last shot by Timofte, Magdalene Laundries were still doing their best to straighten out fallen women across Ireland. Young, unmarried women who fell pregnant after our victory in Genoa may have found themselves “put under pressure” to hand over their newborn babies while atoning for their sinful ways. Furthermore, there is no evidence as to whether or not the nuns who ran the laundries allowed these women to watch the World Cup.

3) You could be arrested for being gay

When O’Leary slotted that ball into the net, the entire nation hugged and kissed each other, with the exception of gay people who knew better than to show affection to each other in public at the time. Until the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland in ’93, when we were all singing ‘Give It A Lash Jack’, you could have been thrown in jail for being gay, thus missing the quarter-final against Italy.

4) Nobody had been molested by members of the Catholic Church

Ireland was a blissful place during the Summer of 1990 as not one child had ever been sexually abused by a paedophile priest at that time. In fact, the arrest of Fr. Brendan Smyth in 1991 in relation to decades of abuse was the first time that anyone had ever heard of a priest doing such a thing. That is to say, people had heard about these things, but nobody knew about them. Well, you know, everyone knew about them, but nobody really…you know, talked about them. In fact the church was doing such a damn good job of covering it up that we all just kicked back and enjoyed the football!

5) Irish women were being treated as incubators

Catastrophic foetal anomaly? Victim of rape or incest? A danger to yourself and your unborn child? It didn’t matter: back in 1990, if you were pregnant, then you were staying pregnant. In fact, women who were in the middle of an unwanted pregnancy during Italia ’90 would sometimes find themselves in a situation where they had to actually leave the country to get terminations elsewhere, or face legal action. Just one of the many ways in which the Ireland that chanted “Ole Ole Ole” at every sporting event 25 years ago is completely different to the Ireland that chants “Ole Ole Ole” at every sporting event today.