The Invention of Nationalism

Not many people realise that Nationalism is a relatively new phenomenon. Most think that it has a long history dating back centuries if not millennia. It’s common to hear modern people draw a connection between themselves and ancient people and nationalists often consider themselves following the footsteps of historic heroes. How many times have the Irish been called a proud and ancient race, with traditions dating back thousands of years? Historic battles and leaders are painted in national lines, even though people at the time wouldn’t have recognised the terms or given them much notice. Most believe that nations have always existed, after all didn’t the Irish always know they were Irish? What else could they consider themselves?

Yet not many realise that nationalism is a 19th century invention and that before that, there was no shared national identity linking people together. Before the Industrial Revolution, people only had loyalty to their family, their village and their lord, there was little concept of a nation. There wasn’t a common national culture, history or even language. But if people weren’t French, Irish, German etc, then what were they? Continue reading “The Invention of Nationalism”

Four Years of Blogging

Four years ago, I sat at the desk in my bedroom and wrote my very first blog. Little did I know that over the next four years I would write another 324 posts and that my blog would be viewed almost 900,000 times and now average around 1,000 views per day. So I would like to take a moment of reflection of the journey so far. Continue reading “Four Years of Blogging”

Muslims Are The New Irish

Sometimes it feels that history repeats itself and only the names change. This is certainly the case with the current refugee crisis which parallels many previous refugee crises and migrant waves. People fleeing war and poverty in the search of a better life is not a new occurrence, in fact you could say it’s an eternal issue. Other writers have drawn attention to how current attitudes to Muslims resemble that towards Jews in the 30s and 40s (the family of Anne Frank applied for refugee status but were rejected). I can also see a strong resemblance between Muslims and my own people, the Irish. Continue reading “Muslims Are The New Irish”

Why Don’t The Irish Speak Irish?

The Danes have Danish, the French speak French, the Slovakians talk in Slovak yet the Irish don’t speak Irish, but rather English. Almost all nations and people have their own language yet the Irish are one of the few nations who have a language that very few of its people can speak. Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe whose primary language is that of a foreign country. In fact, more people in Ireland speak Polish on a daily basis than Irish (and French is close behind). When I’m abroad I’m often asked if there even is an Irish language or if anyone still speaks it. Someone who only spoke Irish would have a very difficult time getting around in Ireland. But why is this the case? Continue reading “Why Don’t The Irish Speak Irish?”

Ido Not

As readers of this blog may know, I’m a big fan of Esperanto and how it simplifies language to make it more logical and easier to learn. However, some people thought this could be taken a step further and Esperanto itself could be reformed and improved. This reformed language is called Ido (which means offspring in Esperanto) and aimed to replace Esperanto as the main international language. This became known as “The Schism” and like all splits it was incredibly divisive and bitter, leading to a lot of vitriol being thrown around. Continue reading “Ido Not”

The Progress And Prospects Of Esperanto (1907)

I’ve always had a love of history so the area of Esperanto history is something I find fascinating. It’s interesting to read articles from a hundred years ago about, what at the time, was a new invention. The late 19th and early 20th century was a time full of new inventions and advances as the world was changing beyond recognition. All areas of life were undergoing rapid change and many wondered if language too would be subject to the modernisation that so many other fields experienced. It is incredible to look back at the early hopes and uncertainties people had towards Esperanto. Who knew what would happen with the language? Would it genuinely become a major world language or was it just a passing fad that would quickly be forgotten? Continue reading “The Progress And Prospects Of Esperanto (1907)”

Esperanto’s Appeal – What It May Mean For Ireland (1926)

Ireland has never had a large Esperanto community, probably due to the dominance of English and our remoteness from other cultures, languages and people. However, during the early days of Esperanto, no one knew whether the language would take off or just be a passing fad. There was a great deal of interest in the language and discussion in many papers. Many people wondered if it would change their lives the way so many other new inventions and discoveries had. I have come across a few articles in the Irish Times during the 1920s that I’ll share with you now. Continue reading “Esperanto’s Appeal – What It May Mean For Ireland (1926)”