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Features | Life & Style

30 things that make you second-generation Irish

THE IRISH are the largest and longest-established minority ethnic group originating outside Britain, but their difference is recognised only in the migrant generation.

Unlike the second generations of ‘visible’ ethnic groups, children of Irish-born parents in Britain are assumed to be British because they are (mostly) ‘white’ and have no Irish accent.

This list provides the tell-tale signs of a 2GI (Second Generation Irishman/woman).

More Life & Style:

Which do you identify with?

1. Born in Britain – you’ll need the patience of a saint to get your Irish passport

1. You travel on an Irish passport despite the fact it means getting hold of your parents birth certificates and requires the patience of a saint whilst waiting for it to be processed in Dublin.

2. Despite not having an Irish accent you use phrases such as ‘craic’, ‘grand’, ‘giving out’ and ‘feckin’ eejit’ when talking with non-Irish people.

3. You can put on an Irish accent which sounds more convincing than your parents – who have Irish accents.

4. You stand for Amhrán na bhFiann despite your Irish language skills being limited to telling people to ‘póg mo thóin’.

5. You had nightmares as a child after being told countless stories about the Banshee.

9. You’re related to someone who has worked in construction

6. You had no idea what the road you grew up on looked like for the first 16 years of your life during the summer because you were sent back ‘home’ as soon as school finished.

7. You cried, or tried to hide when it was time to leave Ireland at the end of the six weeks – questioning the sanity of your parents who swapped flowing green fields for life in a concrete jungle.

8. You envied your cousins in Ireland who had a longer summer holiday than the six weeks you got.

9. Your father, grandfather or an uncle has done, or still works in construction.

10. At least one of your parents walked to school without any footwear and the journey gets longer every time education is brought up in conversation.

14. Exchanging the Euro for the Punt – very uncool

11. You do not support England in any sporting event especially the World Cup despite the fact they are almost certain to win.

12. English people on hearing your accent are bemused by your reluctance to support the Three Lions.

13. You have experience of travelling to Ireland on a budget airline only to find that once across the water your baggage failed to reach the same destination.

14. The Euro will never be as cool as the Punt.

15. You can hold your own playing pool as you spent so much time in pubs during your six week summer holidays.

17. Plastic Paddies? – Aldridge, McAteer and McGoldrick were still all Irish lads

16. You know the history of Ireland better than your parents.

17. You get called a ‘Plastic Paddy’ by Irish people in Britain so feel the need to educate them on the birthplaces of Éamon de Valera, James Connolly and John Aldridge.

18. You burn in the sun and smile in the rain.

19. You get into Gaelic Games during the summer (when the soccer season is taking a break) but only if one of your parents comes from a county actually capable of winning the hurling or football.

20. You own a GAA top.

21. London GAA – no longer a joke for you

21. You’re planning to visit Ruislip next season as London are no longer a joke.

22. You grew up with a copy of The Irish Post in your house plus at least one copy of a regional paper from back ‘home’ such as the Mayo News.

23. When you have a child of your own born in Britain you make sure they are photographed in something green early on out of fear that the Queen might be celebrating something and a friend buys a T-shirt with the Union Jack all over it.

24. You used to be an altar boy but now only enter a church for weddings, funerals, christenings or possibly Christmas.

25. You know the British-born players who qualify to play for Ireland long before the FAI and Giovanni Trapattoni used to.

29. Mind-reader – Ronan McManus from the Bible Code Sundays

26. You can sing at least three rebel songs with such gusto that your neighbours fear an uprising.

27. You have a fondness for Celtic which gets bigger when they are drawn in the Champions League in a group containing AC Milan, Ajax and Barcelona.

28. You have a friend called Ciaran, Brendan, Patrick or Sean.

29. You believe the Bible Code Sundays can read your mind when seeing them play live.

30. One day you hope to go back ‘home’ and stay there until you are pushing up daisies.


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59 comments on “30 things that make you second-generation Irish”

  1. Sinead Whelan

    Soo many true experiences there and mutual understanding (i'm glad its not just me Robert!!) for my father as second generation and also myself as third generation Irish.. maybe its because I'm an Irish Londoner?! 😀

    Brillant articles from the Irish Post this year- thanks a million (picked that up too haha)

  2. Paul McG

    31. Every radio in the house was tuned to RTE

    • Tony O'Mahony

      indeed, especially on a Sunday afternoon, the smell of stale beer from the previous hour or so, crackling commentary on 567mw, the matches brought to life by Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh and the sound of your father calling people he couldnt see "feckin useless that fella, how did he miss that?" and, where i lived anyway, the frustration of not being able to share your excitement about that last minute point to win with any of your friends as they had no idea what you were talking about.

      happy days

    • Martin

      So many memories of watching GAA finals on C4 in the 80s before that 'anti-Irish @#!$' (according to my dad) Michael Grade refused to show it. And then being forced to listen to crackling, whistling airwaves on an old radio in the garden - the only place we could pick up reception. Talk about voices from another world, another place. The '92 final, when Donegal won, involved several grown men crouching under the washing line, on concrete steps, in our tiny yard, trying to figure out what was happening at Croke Park.

  3. Padraig

    Marvellous - especially, so true: "You cried, or tried to hide when it was time to leave Ireland at the end of the six weeks – questioning the sanity of your parents who swapped flowing green fields for life in a concrete jungle."

    Take me home to Mayo!

    • dee ne holland

      sounds just like me I hated to have to come back to England I still go back to cork and Kerry every year and I am now 71 still backwards and forward Ireland is still very much in my blood thank god.

    • Martyn

      I understand EXACTLY where your coming from. I'm now 18, and I lived in Belfast until being about 10, then we had to move to feckin' England. When people ask where I'm from, my parents want me to say England, but will I hell? I'm from Ireland, and I'm proud of it! Hoping to move back to Ireland full time after new year.

  4. Brendan Boyle

    Great fun read ! Even though there is no such thing as second or third generation Irish. You either are, or you're not ! End of !!

    • D.Murray

      Brendan, you wouldn't even have a country if it wasn't for 'Scottish' James Connolly, 'English' Jim Larkin or 'Argentinian' Eamon Bulfin, another feature of being '2nd Generation Irish' is finding the Hibernia-than-thou brigade who flaunt their accents and brag about their birthplaces like they chose them in the womb a bit tiresome.

      • Fred Campbell

        Agree 100% but I think the previous post was actually being complimentary I.e. If you consider yourself Irish you are, end of !

  5. Eamon Ryan

    You can feel superior because you are Irish by choice rather than by accident of birthplace.

  6. Peter

    You don't even flinch when every second person you meet in McGonagles say's they are from Achill Island.

  7. John O'Hara

    Yes I think Tom Clarke, Robert Childers and Erskine Childers would have taken issue with anyone calling them English! :)

  8. Tom Conniffe

    This is a superb article that captures the essence (and suffering!) of the 2G Irish perfectly. Well done Robert and thank you.

  9. Eileen

    Every point so spot on for us! With the exception of 24 - still keeping The Faith our ancestors died fighting for. Every Sunday, as well as high days & holidays! Proud of that:) XX

  10. dave dinan

    They forgot
    1. Your dad going to work on a building site in a suit jacket and normal shoes.
    2. Potato Cakes and Soda Bread
    3. Mum's saying "you can't beat Clarks shoes"
    4. Dad's saying "James Anderton" was a great copper
    5. Dads going for a "game of cards" on a Sunday
    6. Having a "Don" board in the house
    7. Bacon and Cabbage and bread and butter pudding.

  11. Marian

    No, not one of them I'm afraid. When my parents came to England they seem to have become English - it is quite a shock to me that I am considered Irish despite both parents being born there.

    • Libby

      Marian, you almost view being regarded as second generation Irish as some sort of consolation prize and you are ashamed?

  12. Sheila Dixon

    So you grow up Irish in London, then get to Ireland where they introduce you as their English Cousin, as you look over your shoulder to see who they're talking about ?

  13. O'Hanluain

    After singing 'Fields Of Athenry' with gusto and a swagger on St. Patty's Day as a 14 year old teenager once said "feck knows" upon being asked by a nearby friend where in Ireland Athenry actually was.

    Or maybe that was just me in the National, Galty or Claddagh.

  14. Dan Gleballs

    All so true! Get a bit sick with all this '2nd generation' stuff but really laughed reading that.

  15. Siobhan Gorman

    So true for me and my brothers and sisters - and I've just realised all the statements are true for my own 4 children too! Good traditions are always worth keeping. The same is happening for my grandchildren now - the eldest arrives in Mayo within half an hour, her 4th visit in a year and she's only 15 months old! I'm joining them later today - can't wait.
    Great article, have shared it with lots of people.

  16. Tony Hennigan

    The article is too focused on the London Irish

  17. Mike Gill

    Great article - My Old Man - God be good to him instilled in us that we were Irish. If you're born in a stable it doesn't make you a donkey was his saying. When I got older I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was the Duke of Wellington (born in Dublin) who first coined this phrase

    • Connachtborn

      He didn't coin the phrase. Daniel O'Connell said that he said it to discredit him in Ireland. It was nationalist propaganda and obviously as it is still repeated.

  18. Mark Keane

    I am 3rd Generation Irish & I can relate to most of those on the list, I think Irishness seems to be strong in people with Irish Connections.

  19. Irene devine

    Come from a large Iriish family from Dublin my aunt married a Barney Campbell also Irish stock, my grandparents had 18 children and most of my relatives had big families we are all proud to,be Irish and would like to find put more about our heritage how can we do this? irene

    • Anne O'Connor

      Go to, shows the irish censuses from 1901 and 1916, I found my grandparents and others on there, there are also details of the house they lived in, and scanned in behind are the actual census documents so that you can see their signature or mark. We might, just might be related, my Mums' maiden name was Devane, from Galway! I hope you visit the site and find some family xxx

  20. marina shan

    every word so so true,mum and dad both born in gleneely co donegal, we always went to ireland on holidays,and i was so unhappy when we had to go back to glasgow,i remember getting a prescription from a chemist while on holiday ,and every night after we got back to glasgow i looked at the bottle and saw carndonagh written on it,and i cried myself to sleep.luckily 2 years later we moved to donegal ,have been here now for 35 years,in my heart ive always been irish.

  21. Mick

    Or your Builder Dad's van that doubled as people carrier at weekends and on School runs. I remember the nerves as I sat on various old cement bags in the back of me Dad's Ford Escort Van (blue) as we neared the School in Mitcham. There were all the non 2nd generation parents pulling up in their Volvo estates and all neatly disembarking. And there was meself with three siblings in the back all awaiting various drop off's. I'd be begging Dad to drop us off around the corner of the school so no one would see us and where I could redress meself and wipe various building material residues from my person..
    But no he felt no reason to accommodate and more often than not despite my protest, dropped me right at the front gate with a wide grin and a departing soundbite .
    "Mike" He'd shout after me so I would have to look around "You love it really!"

  22. Ger D

    You'd look bemused when the cousins zoned out and started mumbling incantations at 6pm during the Angelus...

  23. Maria McAuliffe

    #22 master of logistics in packing a car at Christmas/end of the summer holidays.
    #23 You had a bag of Irish spuds under your feet in the back of the car heading back, probably bought at the side of the road on the way to the docks!!

  24. Paul Moville via Greenock

    31. At the mere mention of the place you're wee grey haired Granny would spring to her feet and shout "THERE'S NO LONDON IN DERRY!!!"

    • Pat

      agree with your granny

  25. Bernie Butler

    28. You have a friend called Ciaran, Brendan, Patrick or Sean.---> OR Kevin!

    • Aíndríu Ó Suílleabhaín

      a few more..

      Bringing back enough Kimberleys and Galtee cheese to see out a nuclear war with.. every other magazine in the house was an 'Ireland's Own'.. listening to the Angelus every day at 6.. the 'Sacred Heart of Jesus' hanging on the wall.. hand-me-down clothes passed back & forth across 'the pond'.. smuggling the dog in the footwell of the car.. learrning to sing & play an instrument along to The Dubliners (accordion, tin whistle, guitar, keyboard - spoons!).. able to recite every word of 'James Connolly' & 'Kevin Barry' off by heart !

      Hate the term 'Plastic Paddy'. Do Asians call their British-born 'Plastic Pakkies' ? Absolutely not. Put the term to bed once and for all and let's never speak it again. It's an insult to our children and their children hwo have a sincere love and fondness for the land of their forebears that far transcends petty little arguments over where they were born (which they had no say over). If you have Irish blood in you - 2nd, 3rd, 4th whatever, then you're HEART will tell you if you are Irish, not your birthplace.
      Inside you will know.
      My heart is, was, and always will be in Ireland, the land of my forefathers, the only place I thought I belonged, the land of MY people - in England I always felt like a visitor, a stranger in someone else's land, full of people I had hardly anything in common with, who knew nothing of my upbringing, religion, beliefs or culture. To me, I went school there and that was it.
      I'm now living in Ireland the last six years (after a failed move back when I was 16 due to my parents house sale falling through). I'm home.

  26. Julia Hayes

    So funny - the bag of spuds comment really brought back memories, as did the dropping off at school in the van. Happy days!

  27. Des Pollock

    You can remember getting the Holyhead train from Euston, sailing on the St Columba and a mad dash to Connolly St or Heuston to catch a train going West.

  28. Fintan Gilhooly

    And another. When your parents would smuggle a bottle of poitin back on the ferry

    • louise

      In a 'knock holy water ' bottle

  29. Michael john carroll

    Dear sir's
    Reading who is Irish or not . This saddens me my father came from Ireland Dublin st Mary's mansions sean McDermott street the name carroll to west london at around approximately 1942 met my mother herself half Irish they married I was the first born . My father had serious heart trouble and died he was only 32 years old my grandmother came to his funeral ? I can not remember much but we never saw or heard from our Irish family again all i know is he my father had a brother frank sisters July & Annie who I believe died before my father who died 1952 that's Annie carroll I have tried so many times to find some trace of my Irish family but failed and with out spending a fortune to find out I grow old not knowing who half of me really is the strange thing is I am always quick to let people know of my Irish blood am 70 and have and still do help children from under privledged back ground . On the 29 th of this month I go to westminster to study and learn our to be a councillor . I would love to know my family tree are their any of my blood relatives in Ireland . Look forward to your reply. MJ Carroll

    • Noeen Bradley

      Michael, If you can get a copy of your dad's Birth certificate that would be a start. I think most registered births were listed in Dublin. This site below might help. My parents met in an Irish club in Hammersmith, West London. My dad was from Kerry & he sadly died in 1970 at only 45. his brother had to get a copy of his Birth certificate which I think details were held in Dublin. It might be worth a visit to Dublin with your Dad & his brothers/sister's details & do a search. I found my grandfather's grave by looking up Rath cemetary in Tralee, Kerry. A lot of stuff is online now. good luck!

  30. James Girvan

    Born and bred in England to Irish parents but points 2,4,11,12,16,17,18,19,20,23,26,27,30 are still part of my life!

    Always say the north and Derry and when buying sausages in the supermarket will buy Irish ones over British ones even if they more expensive!

  31. Mt

    No mention of cups of tea, and how irish tea always tastes better.
    Phrases such as Wait till your father gets home
    Dressing up in Sunday best for mass, I remember when the churches had after mass clubs (bars!) we used to go there on a Sunday night.
    You were trying to get into the national at 14 dressed up as though you were in your 30s!

  32. Steve

    No28...I have 3 brothers Ciaran, Brendan, Patrick + a cousin called Sean!

  33. denis

    What about having to bring back a pillowcase of dulce for all yer mates who hated it

  34. Michael

    Boiled bacon and cabbage was on the menu at least once a week.

  35. Michael

    Your Mum and Dad getting the cassettes out on a Sunday morning playing the irish tunes whilst the fry was on.

  36. Joe Gibbons

    Whilst living in London in the 80s/90s a gang of us (20 or more) used to congregate at Alexandra Palace to listen to the matches from home. The police were often called but usually left straight away when they seen we were only having a bit of craic. No trouble. The Irish then only drank in pubs.

  37. Eoin Donohoe

    Being crushed in the back of the transit between bags of turf and potatoes.
    Felling sick after eating too many bags taytos and drinking too much red lemonade. Being annoyed you couldn't get them in England, apart from some pubs.
    Hiding the sausages, black & white pudding in the suitcase. Thinking we were smugglers.
    Sitting by yourself in the cinema on the overnight ferry not understanding how other people could sleep.
    Not being able to understand at least one of your uncles and still don't even you known them all your life.
    Trying to explain how large your family is and how you haven't met all your cousins yet.

  38. Elaine

    they forgot, you're 2GI and you have an 'English' name but when you have kids you give them an Irish name!!So true.

  39. Tim O'Connor

    English by birth, Irish by the grace of god. UP CORK

  40. Susan

    I was born in England of Irish parents but brought up in Australia so a lot of these don't apply but I still feel the irish ness in me. We had bacon and cabbage on Sundays, and I can clearly remember my dad playing Kevin Barry etc and singing at the top of his voice. The town I grew up in had a large irish population do there were also lots of get togethers faith music and drink. One at Patricks day someone climbed on our roof and put the irish flag on our antenna where it stayed for years without one complaint from anyone. I'm enormously proud of my irish blood and love my visits back 'home'

  41. Peter devine

    Landed in Croydon in 76 ,listening to the radio against a telephone pole for the matches,the Craic in the social clubs/ pubs,North London dance halls and round wood park married a 2nd generation,and 29 will apply

  42. susan

    When I was little I used to think that all grandparents in the world lived in Ireland.

  43. Paul Guerin

    Really enjoyed reading the article and relate to most of the quotes with a smile. Mum and Dad are from Donegal and moved to Corby for the steelworks. Six weeks in Donegal for the summer and playing with all my cousins on my granddads farm are memories i shall never forget. I will always remember 6 of us in my Dads cortina driving all the way (bit of a crush) to Fanad and having to hide in the footwell of the car getting on the ferry at Holyhead. Dad used to wake us up going through the six counties to see the soldiers, which we thought at the time was really exciting we would have rebel tunes on the stereo all the way through the north. I am extremely proud of my Irish heritage and will always class myself as Irish and have passed my passion to my children, for the little island.
    The story about spuds in the footwell on the way home made me laugh, we had a roof rack full, spuds, beetroot,cabbage,carrots.

  44. eileen baker

    I think Irish blood must run through family veins forever. A forthcoming birth in my family will be FOURTH generation Irish , and the baby (boy or girl )will be christened in a catholic church and given two VERY Irish names ,already chosen

  45. Eugene McElhinney

    You can't have a fondness for Celtic. You either don't know their history or you adore them.


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