Ireland's voters have approved gay marriage by 62 to 38 percent, becoming the first country ever to do so in a nationwide vote. The rate of change is astonishing; homosexuality remained a crime in Ireland down to 1993, and now Ireland is one of the world's most gay-friendly countries.
The change has a lot to do with the collapse of Ireland's Catholic church. The secularization that in most of Europe took places gradually over the whole period from 1900 to now was compressed in Ireland into a single generation. I think this had two causes. First, a general opening of Ireland to the world, driven by the economic boom of the 90s and EU membership; and second, the catastrophic child abuse scandals of the Irish church. But whatever the reason, Ireland has shed the gloomy, repressive Catholicism that accompanied its independence and become very quickly much more like the rest of Europe