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 I Learned From Failing To Learn Languages

The internet is full of advice for learning languages. There are numerous blogs, podcasts, discussion forums and YouTube channels where people share advice and experience. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that almost all the advice is given by people who have been extremely successful in learning languages, usually polyglots who can speak multiple languages.

But this isn’t the typical experience. For a great number of people, learning another language is something they wish they could do, but are unable to. Most attempts end in failure with people giving up with little to show for their efforts. Most students spend years studying a language in school yet are unable to speak it by the time they are finished. Failure has as much, if not more, to teach us as success. Why do so many people not succeed? Continue reading “What I Learned From Failing To Learn Languages”

Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland

For generations the goal of Irish nationalists has been a 32 county United Irish Republic where the whole island is free of British rule. In theory all Irish political parties support this, even if there isn’t much they can do about it. With the centenary celebration of the 1916 Rising (and the War of Independence soon to come) there has been a celebration and an examination of national pride. In Northern Ireland, higher birth rates means that the number of Catholics is catching up with the number of Protestants and may soon over take it. This has led to a number of people to suggest that a United Ireland may soon happen.

However, the thought of a United Ireland doesn’t fill me with patriotism and I don’t see it as something to rejoice. If I was ever given a choice, I would vote against it. This might seem treasonous from someone who was raised as an Irish Catholic but the thought of a United Ireland fills me with dread and were it to ever happen, it could bankrupt the Republic of Ireland. A United Ireland would lead to crippling taxes, drastic reduction in services, widespread unrest and a return to the violence of the Troubles. Continue reading “Why I Hope There Never Is A United Ireland”

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”

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?”

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?”