Thursday, 17 March 2011

Me and the Irish

It's hard to avoid Irish people if you're English. I imagine the Irish feel the same way about us.

I don't know if I've any Irish "blood" in me, but since my dad's dad was baptised a Catholic I would say there's a fair chance that I do.

If I ever have some spare time and cash, I'll go on a road trip around Ireland. So many Irish people have made the opposite journey, I think it's a shame that more English people don't return the compliment. Our two countries' histories are so intertwined, vexatiously on the whole, we should all take time to learn more about the effects each has had on the other.

And, of course, the big historical picture has affected personal life. There can hardly be an English person that hasn't had their life shaped in some way or other by an Irish person (and vice versa).

Before I mangled my brain studying for a masters about the European Union, I thought of mangling my brain studying for a masters about the sectarian nature of the UK education system. (I can't believe David Coleman's diatribe against multiculturalism, by the way, since his whole free school idea will encourage it in the form of more religious and sectarian education.)

I remember being educated in C of E junior schools, and seeing neighbours going to RC junior schools. Later on these two streams joined together in the secondary schools (well, for some they did). Catholic kids always seemed to have had more fun than we did, but that might have been a misperception. What effect did this "going to different schools" have on all of us?

I had some good friends from an Irish Catholic background when I was growing up.

My friend Theresa's dad was Irish. He worked for British Rail. He had a thick accent, and an unkempt appearance. When I was about 9 years old I waited outside the electricity showroom in Rochester for a bus after school. Theresa's dad coming from work would pass me on the other side of the road.

"It's Vicki da witch!" he would shout across the road at me, while I pretended not to know him. Of course, this attention was embarassing but also profoundly flattering. He was probably the first grown-up man I ever fancied.

Our next door neighbours were Irish. Actually, they weren't; I realise now that the lady of the house had a Birmingham accent, but her parents had come from Ireland.

For a few difficult years in my early teens an Irish boyfriend of my mother lived with us. He was a moody character, but I do remember some good times with him, when he would tell me about his childhood in Ireland - donkeys, nuns and rhubarb jam sandwiches featured heavily, I recall.

Now, was he moody because he was Irish, or was he just moody? If he was just moody, did his moodiness take a peculiarly Irish character?

Of course, all these things are mixed up: where we come from and who we are, and what we do with it. I've known as many very positive Irish people as negative.

A good friend of mine is of Irish descent; I'm somehow inexplicably proud that she's recently married an Englishman. If we can put all the shit of the past behind us, here's two peoples that can work their relationship out, surely.

To all the nice Irish people I've met, "Happy Saint Patrick's Day"; to all the horrible ones, "Póg mo thóin." (I'm grateful to Mrs Angry for doubling my Gaelic vocabulary with this last phrase.)

14 comments:

David Duff said...

"Vicki da witch"

Absolutely and positively no comment.

As to the Irish, my advice is stick with the Proddies, they're grim and dour but they keep their word. The Fenians are full charm and guile but no-one with half a brain would trust them an inch.

vickim57 said...

History lessons from David Duff, like reading "1066 and all that".

Moaneybat said...

Superb reply Vicki! I just wonder if he gets it?

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha...Excellent. I knew you were somehow Irish (a Greek of the North after all!)...Your Irish wit betrays you! Indeed Irish have more fun and although they had a strict upbringing they managed to escape from their misery. If I would ever do a Masters again it would be on why the English are so miserable...Although if you have Council Leaders like Brian Coleman I can understand why this is happenning!

Rog T said...

I'd suggest David Duff google my cousin, Kevin Barry. It is really sickening that someone can be so crass and so ignorant of the history of one's own country.

David Duff said...

Irish terrorist murderer hanged.

And so . . . ?

Moaneybat said...

Old duff truly needs to read his Anglo-Norman history from about the 12th century onwards. He will discover where there the terrorists came from speaaking Franglais. Edward l must have been Greek?

David Duff said...

Moaneybat, it is, I admit, of only miniscule, not to say, microscopic, interest to me but should you feel moved to explain what medievil Anglo-Norman affairs have to do with the Irish character and the fate of an Irish murderer, feel free to tell me - I mean, no rush or anything, but if it makes you feel better, do go ahead.

vickim57 said...

History, man, history, it's about why things turn out the way they do.

Ireland and its people were conquered and suppressed up until quite recent times. If some people turned murderer the roots are in history, not in "character".

Is it in the English "character" to suppress other nations?

David Duff said...

Oh, I see, you mean the Irish problem came about because of what those ghastly French rotters did to our 'Arold - the rotters! Fancy shooting someone in the eye, typical Frog trick . . . er, but, well, I still don't quite see what that has to do with the Irish?

Oh, wait a minute, you mean Man's never-ending inhumanity to Man; yeah, I see it now, er, sort of, I mean, I think I do, saw it on a placard once . . .

Rog T said...

David Dull,

In my Guinness induced stupor last night, I forgot that you have the intellect of a nematode worm and require everything to be spelled out for you and explained. The point about Kevin Barry was that if he was as untrustworthy as you make "Fenians" out to be, he would have sold out his comrades to get let off.

On reflection, in the sober light of day, there is an even more pertinant point. Many young men such as Kevin have lost their lives due to ignorance and prejudice of the type you display here. Your comments are clearly inciteful and full of hate. Personally I couldn't be bothered, but if you continually make such racist and inflammatory remarks, sooner or later someone will report you to the old bill and you'll have your collar felt.

You may think being racist is big and clever, it really isn't it just confirms the fact that you are a moron.

David Duff said...

Rog, there is absolutely nothing racist about it and until 1970 I had no particular feelings one way or another concerning the Irish, except that it was probably better to have them on your side in a fight. But you see, when a small minority of them started blowing the arms and legs off English men, women and children, and when it became absolutely clear that they had the silent support of most of their wretched countrymen (see Kevin Myers, passim), well, I began to get the idea that they didn't much like the English. I suppose if I was as stuffed full of contemporary silliness as you, Rog, I might even suggest that they were racists! (Heavens to Betsy, say it ain't so!)

Anyway, as I said before, by and large your average Proddie is grim, stern, dull but trustworthy, and your average Fenian is a smiling, charmer to share a pint with but you would be well advised not to trust him further than you can piss into a gale.

Now, why don't you trot along to your local nick and inform on me, Rog, it's an old Irish custom, after all.

Oh, and by the way, I had similar feelings about the Germans for similar reasons but then, in my youth I came across (if you'll excuse the expression) one or two charming German au pair girls and learned 'piece 'n' love, man'! (Er, do I have the spelling right?)

Rog T said...

Mr Puff,

You really are a thick, ignorant and stupid person aren't you? Have you any idea how many Irish Catholics died in the two world wars in the armed forces? I suspect if you've met Irish people who don't like you, it's probably because you are a complete wanker and they see you for what you are.

I have no problem at all with Irish Protestants and your description of them is equally off the mark. I have a friend who worked in the Northern Irish Office for the MOD at the height of the troubles. He told me the story of how a young Catholic civil servant got married. Rev Ian Paisley was the only politician who gave him a card and a present.

The reason that peace broke out in Ireland is because everyone was heartily sick of violence.

The way you stereotype people just shows your lack of intellect. Desparation drives people of all creeds and colours to extreme action. I suppose you have equally stupid views about Jews, Blacks, Muslims, chinese, Polish and the French.

As to the german au pairs you shagged, I hope they weren't too traumatised and hope they did't form the opinion that all Englishmen were rcist ignorant twats.

vickim57 said...

And there, gentlemen, I think we shall leave it.

Opinions have been thoroughly aired, we all know where everyone stands, and we all - most of us, anyway - would like now to turn our full attention to saving our public services!

Vicki