November 01, 2013

Being Irish is about more than being an uber-Gael

There is no such thing a model Irish person. Cultural nationalism may have created an mono-type set ideal, but these notions are incredibly dangerous. As Conor Cruise O'Brien said, it's "recklessly idiosyncratic." Fintan O'Toole has said that Irish cultural nationalism has created "a prison for the Irish people which [has] crippled their true identity. To be Irish was not enough. To be Irish you had to be not British."

This is the status quo. A perverse ideal that seeks a prelapsarian Irishness. And if you can't reach this, you're denounced as a "west Brit." You can't win. As Fintan O'Toole said, "the choice was to hate England or to be a West Brit." The supreme irony Anglo-Irish relation is, as Michael Kirke said, that "The Irish constitute Britain’s biggest ethnic group and vice-versa."

Going forward, said Fintan O'Toole, "[A] new identity has to be positive rather than negative. But it also has to find a way to include Britishness." As Brian O'Connor said: "Being Irish involves a lot more than some uber-Gael, Provo-lite, pub-patriot wet-dream. It always has."

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