August 03, 2015

Orange and Green, we're all Paddies

The Simpsons portrays Saint Patrick's day and the division in Ireland between Orange and Green 
Many Protestants born in Ireland strenuously and stridently object to being Irish.

To the outsider there's not a shade of difference between the Orangemen and the Green Gael, the planter and the native. The English, American and Europeans and the world see us all as Irish equally.

But likewise, zealous Irish Irelanders would exclude Orangemen and protestant-unionists from the house of Irishness. The rather dangerous authoritarian streak that runs through parts of Irish culture.

Maurice Fitzgerald, an Anglo-Norman wrote in 1170:
"We are English as far as the Irish are concerned, likewise to the English we are Irish, and the inhabitants of this island and the other assail us with equal degree of hatred."
Graham Norton, a southern Protestant born in Dublin and raised in Bandon, Cork said:
"You're made to feel like you're not Irish."
David Ervine said:
"The first time I ever went to the United States, someone in the audience in the dialogue we were having thought it was ludicrous that I could be British and Irish. Then we asked how many in this room are Irish American and 95% of the people in the room put their hands up. So it is OK to live 3000 miles apart and be Irish American and but is not alright to be British Irish."
Brian Faulkner said in 1949:
"They have no right to the title Ireland, a name of which we are just as proud as they."
And said in 1971:
"The Northern Ireland citizen is Irish and British; it is a question of complement, not of conflict." 
Judith Beckett from Portstewart, Co Derry, said in the feature ‘Never Been South' by the Irish Times:
"When you live in Northern Ireland and come down south, you’re from the North, so you’re different. When you go to England you’re always seen as Irish. I feel I’m Northern Irish – not really Irish but more Irish than British."
Alan Bairner said:
"Whilst the ulster Protestant can be dismissed in England as just another Irish person or, more generally, as a Celt, in Northern Ireland itself, his or her perceived identity is unlikely to be either Celtic or Irish. Indeed, even those Ulster Protestants who do want to celebrate their irish news recognise the problems associated with their attempts at self-identification."
David Trimble said:
"Many Englishmen... seem unable to distinguish between the native inhabitants of Ireland - to him they are all "paddies”."
Oscar Wilde said:
"When in England one is made to feel Irish and when in Ireland one is made to feel English."
Nick Hewer said the same thing:
"When I'm in Ireland I'm a bit English, when I'm in English I'm a bit Irish."
Protestant self description as "Irish" dropped sharply after 1968 (when 20% opted for this category), and especially after 1978. See here. Christopher Hitchens explained the thinking behind all of this intransigence and extremism:
"At first I couldn’t tell by looking whether someone was Catholic or Protestant. After a while, I thought I could guess with a fair degree of accuracy, but most of the inhabitants of Belfast seemed able to do it by some kind of instinct… It’s just that it’s the dominant question locally."
He also wrote:
"There is a theory of Sigmund Freud’s, it’s called the narcissism of the small differences. Differences between people that are practically impalpable to you and me are all they really know about and care about… I lived in Northern Ireland for a while, after a bit I thought I could tell a Protestant from a Catholic by looking. They know immediately, it’s all that matters to them."
George Bernard Shaw wrote:
"Mr St John Ervine’s Fabian political apprenticeship in London could not wash out of him the Orange dye of his native Belfast… But call Mr Ervine an Englishman and he will knock you down."
My previous post on the vanity of small differences in Northern Ireland, here.

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