Why I Am Not A (Irish) Nationalist

During my teenage years, I was a passionate nationalist (because nationalism varies so much by country, this will be mainly in reference to Irish nationalism, but applicable to nationalism generally). I’ve always had a great interest in history and I loved to read about heroes from the glorious past. I especially loved the stories about the heroes who fought the British during 800 years of foreign occupation. While my classmates were interested in football and television, I read everything I could about Gaelic chieftains during ancient times, glorious rebels who fought for liberty, the United Irishmen who battled for a Republic where Catholics and Protestants would be equal, the brave war of independence and the modern war to throw the British out of Northern Ireland. Continue reading “Why I Am Not A (Irish) Nationalist”

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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?”

Was The Irish Famine Genocide?

Some people claim that the Great Famine was an act of genocide committed by the British Empire against the Irish people. This theory is most popular among Irish-Americans (who strangely enough are more nationalist than people from Ireland) and on the internet, though it has little if any credence in Ireland. It has been booted out of conspiracy theory land after one of the most respected Irish historians; Tim Pat Coogan supported the allegation in his new book, The Famine Plot. Continue reading “Was The Irish Famine Genocide?”

The Other Civil War

There was a civil war in Ireland between 1922 and 1923 but we rarely speak about it. It was such a destructive bitter conflict that the wounds were too deep to discuss. However there was another civil war happening at the same time that is even less discussed. This split was just as bitter, but instead of being centred on the Treaty it was based on something much deeper. It was a split between rich and poor, haves and have-nots, landlords and peasants. It is a story of Soviets, White Guards, sabotage, strikes, land seizures, violence and burnings. It was nothing short of a second civil war. Continue reading “The Other Civil War”

Irish Soviets 1919-23

Workers throwing out the boss, hoisting a red flag and proclaiming a Soviet are not something that you would normally associate with Irish history. That sort of stuff is normally presumed to have happened in Europe but not Ireland. Most history books describe all Irish people as being united with the sole aim of driving the British out. Yet Ireland was caught in a wave of Socialism similar to that in Italy and France. During the War of Independence over 100 Soviets were set up in Ireland. Although it is now forgotten, many thought Bolshevism was a greater threat to British rule than Sinn Fein. Continue reading “Irish Soviets 1919-23”

1919 Limerick Soviet

Ireland is probably the last place in the world that you expect workers to host a red flag and seize control of a business let alone an entire city. That sort of stuff is usually considered too continental for our liking. Yet this is exactly what happened in 1919. A soviet was declared and the workers seized control of essential supplies. They even printed their own money. Nor was this some irrelevant backwater but rather Ireland’s fourth largest city. Continue reading “1919 Limerick Soviet”