Cultural Appropriation, Plastic Paddies and Irish-Americans – Who does culture belong to?

The first time I ever heard of Cultural Appropriation, I thought it was a ridiculous notion. How can it be wrong to copy another culture? What’s wrong with taking inspiration and emulating other nations? The idea that some cultures belonged to only one people seemed incredibly regressive, narrow-minded and almost racist. If some music and fashion belongs only to black people and white people can’t use it, then does that mean that there are some fashions and music that only belong to white people? Continue reading “Cultural Appropriation, Plastic Paddies and Irish-Americans – Who does culture belong to?”

What Does It Mean To Be Irish?

Since I’ve moved abroad, I’ve been thinking about what it means to be Irish. In Ireland this isn’t too relevant of a question because almost everyone is Irish, but I’m currently living in a town where I am the only Irish person. I’ve always been proud to call myself Irish, but lately I’ve been wondering what does this mean? What makes Irish people different from others, such as the English and Americans? What is special about being Irish? Continue reading “What Does It Mean To Be Irish?”

How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?

Now this question probably seems a bit pointless for a blog. Can’t you just Google the answer and be done? According to the 2011 Census, 3,861,335 people or 84% of the population of the Republic described themselves as Catholics. This figure is often used to describe Ireland as a Catholic country and to defend the role of religion in Irish society, ranging from Church control of the vast majority of schools, whether abortion should be kept illegal or the religious references in the Constitution (if you don’t know, the opening line is: “In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred”). But if Irish people are overwhelming Catholic, then it seems obvious that Ireland would have a strong Catholic ethos. Continue reading “How Many Catholics Are There In Ireland?”

A Week In Esperanto Land

An Irishman, a Pole, a Russian and a Frenchman are all in a room. What language do they speak? This isn’t a riddle or a joke but what happened to me last week. You see I’m just back from spending eight days in the town of Nitra in Slovakia where I participated in the Somera Esperanto Studado (Summer Esperanto Study). So what is Esperanto like in practice? What is the Esperanto community like, what do Esperantists do when they meet and how does Esperanto function as a language? Continue reading “A Week In Esperanto Land”

The Flaw Of The Invisible Hand

Introductions to economics usually start with gushing tales about the magic of the free market. It is usually stated that the free market allows everyone to get the best quality goods at the cheapest prices. The magical invisible hand guides everyone to the best place without any unnecessary government intervention. Below is a link to a video typical of the kind. (I’ll ignore for the moment that it completely misrepresents what Adam Smith said). Its short and simple, but it is a simple argument. This is the typical free market argument with its claim that left alone it will bring the best world for everyone.

Continue reading “The Flaw Of The Invisible Hand”

The Irish Language – It’s Dying

We Irish have a love-hate relationship with our language. We can’t decide if it’s a large part of our identity or a useless waste of time. One thing everyone agrees on is that it is dying. Only 2% speak Irish day-to-day and that number is continually shrinking. It is not spoken outside of remote pockets on the West coast. Young people show little interest in learning it and it seems to doomed to slowly die out.

Continue reading “The Irish Language – It’s Dying”

Sexism Against Men?

Up until recently I didn’t know there was such thing as sexism against men. It seemed like a paradox, like racism against white people. When I looked into it, I was struck by how incredibly true it was. Although I never really considered it, there are certain rules about how real men are supposed to behave. We are supposed to be tough, strong, independent and never express any emotion except anger. Talking about your feelings or being dependent on someone else are signs of weakness and the worse thing in the world for a man is to be seen as weak. Continue reading “Sexism Against Men?”