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Am I English or Irish? – the second generation question


AM I English or Irish? It’s a question those of us born in England to Irish families have to face at some stage.

Having attended a discussion at the London Irish Centre, where the subject was ‘Britishness and Irishness: Shared or Separate?’, it’s clear from listening to the panel of Sean Doran, Margaret Ritchie, James Winston, Peter Sheridan and Sean Sorohan, plus the 100 or so people gathered, that the debate is not going to finish any time soon.

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I see myself as a London Irishman.

I was born in Hammersmith, west London, to parents from the west of Ireland. So far west is my mother’s village in Achill Island that the next stop is America – a journey many from the area have taken.

For their own reasons, when my parents headed across the water in the 1960s, they both landed up in west London. Shepherds Bush for my father, Ealing for my mother.

Irishness was never forced on us but my sister and I soon grasped the fact that we weren’t “proper English”.

My parents spoke with a different accent to our neighbours, Gladys and Frank. And it was only at university years later that I met young “proper English” people for the first time.

In my school we were the sons and daughters of immigrants from Ireland, Africa, the Caribbean, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Iraq and Poland – no royal bloodlines at Cardinal Wiseman.

We spent our summer holidays in Mayo and Sligo. We attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. While my sister was off Irish dancing, I was training with the local soccer team, Greenford Celtic.

My sister now lives in Dublin and I write for The Irish Post, have an Irish passport, and often say ‘I’m English by birth – Irish by the Grace of God’.

I don’t like the term ‘Plastic Paddy’, I find it insulting – and I’ve heard it a bit.

I first questioned whether I was English or Irish on a beautiful June evening in 1990, when Ireland faced England in the World Cup.

My hero then was John Barnes, who was in the England team alongside the likes of Gary Lineker, Peter Shilton and Paul Gascoigne – players I’d been watching on the TV every week.

But this match was different to any other I’d seen. The first oddity was that it wasn’t just me and my father in the sitting room. My mother, sister and an aunt visiting from Kildare were also engrossed.

There was a lot more at stake than Group F points. Those 11 men in green jerseys were representing us all, Irish-born or not.

I was just a bit too young in 1988 to notice the spring in my father’s step when Ireland beat England 1-0. Two years on was the first time I saw my parents show how much they cared for the land where they were born.

When England raced into an early lead through a Gary Lineker goal, I cheered. But the reaction in the room was anything but celebratory.

My family wound me up until half time then said, seriously, it was okay if I supported England. But for some reason it didn’t sit right with me.

On 72 minutes I found out why. Packie Bonner, one of only three Irish-born players in the starting 11, launched a long punt forward. The ball dropped for Kevin Sheedy (born in Wales), to drill home. The room erupted. Pure joy. “You’ll never beat the Irish.” Heaven knows what Frank and Gladys were thinking.

Since then, I’ve realised my Irishness is an inside job. If I’d have been born in a garage, it wouldn’t have made me a car. I was born in England, but my spirit is Irish. When I come off the plane at Knock and my feet touch the soil, and my nose smells the Irish air my soul is stirred – it feels like home.

The bogs and fields of Mayo and Sligo are where I experienced some of the happiest times of my childhood. Coming from the concrete jungle for a six-week break in the ‘Wild West’ was like being transported into a dream world.

People would stop to say hello In Achill and Sligo. “Welcome home, how long are you back for? How are mam and dad? Be sure to call to the house.” Drivers would signal to acknowledge you were very much a local.

However, the generation of Irish kids my age weren’t always friendly.

I don’t like the term ‘Plastic Paddy’, I find it insulting – and I’ve heard it a bit.

The thing that amazes me with some Irish people is how quick they are to claim us English-born Irish as their own when they help Ireland qualify for the World Cup, or become one of the biggest bands in the world as the Gallagher brothers did with Oasis.

Success brings acceptance, but we – the non-famous members of the second generation – will never be as Irish as those born and raised on the auld sod.

And what about the loyal English-born supporters who follow Ireland over land and sea, yet take abuse from their fellow supporters because they don’t sound like Robbie Keane?

It brings me back to those summer holidays in Achill. We’d start off in Ted Lavelle’s and then head to Keel for a few drinks in the Village Inn, before moving on to the Achill Head Hotel for the disco.

If it didn’t kick off in the club then the queue for curry chips was always a good spot for some “banter”. “I see the Queen’s lads think they should be getting served first,” is one particularly gem I remember.

With drink flowing, it was fairly common for a few fists to be thrown. We brought ID with us to get into the Achill Head but never thought to bring a copy of our family trees.

In the year of The Gathering I have one question. Are we all welcome in Ireland? Or is it determined by how successful we are? Because you either have us all or none at all.

You can’t just take the good and the great. Like those born in Ireland, not all of us are soccer rock stars. But like you, we are not without our charm.

The BibleCode Sundays sum up my experience of Irishness in their songs, Maybe It’s Because I’m An Irish Londoner and The Kids From The City Of Nowhere.

“You can hear it in my accent when I talk, a proud London Irishman. We built the roads and the docks and the railways … Ain’t nothing but pride on this west London Irish face.”

When Ireland play at Wembley in May, it will be a chance for many of us to watch our country take on England in an area where many of us grew up.

Just don’t call us plastic – some day you might want to claim a few of our number as your own.

Some day you may even claim want to claim every one of us.

Now that would be a reason for a year-long party.


Irish Post

The Irish Post is the biggest-selling weekly newspaper for the Irish in Britain and the voice of the Irish community since 1970. Follow the Irish Post on Twitter @theirishpost

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139 comments on “Am I English or Irish? – the second generation question”

  1. frank kelly

    How do you think the northern Irish feel , I myself. Living in Dublin at the moment feel like an outsider , the republic has settled it differences with the queen who over seen the cruel treatment of anybody with an Irish name or allegiance to Irish nationality and the free state carries on as if we in the north don't exist , similar treatment , not very nice to be shunned by your own people ;(

    • D. Murray

      Are the thousands of British people born in Germany to Forces Personnel Germans? Are the children of Chinese restaurant owners around the globe not Chinese? There are Italians born in Sweden and there are Portuguese people born in Switzerland, the list goes on, why is this phenomenon considered so unique to the Irish? As if birth in an Irish hospital or an Irish accent bestows you with unique qualities that can't be found on the poor individuals that don't have the 'luck of the Irish' to coin another cliche.

      The irony of the village idiot mentality that despises and disdains the second generation Irish is that it's the same psyche that hero worships James Larkin, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Countess Markiewicz, David O'Leary and Paul McGrath.

      If you were born in Ireland to Spanish parents who mixed and socialised with other Spanish ex pats, had a Spanish name and passport,grew up being regarded to as 'the Spanish lad',spent every summer back in Madrid with your Spanish family and maybe even went back there to live, would it be considered such a leap of eccentricity to consider yourself Spanish?

      • N Curran

        I think you have to clarify your point! C'mon lads, nobody will ever take us seriously with this rambling shite!

    • jim little

      i was born in england, my family are scots irish i have never felt at home hear, and never felt happy with any 100% orange or green i am i am what i am, lick it or hate it, i will sing all the songs of my child hood orange and green. i was in the irish center in liverpool the other week and felt more than happy than in the orange hall in everton !! so leave us prods to sort our selves out, as to where we stand, i stand fore square for the union, but i will never turn my back on my mates in the south. like my dad did in 1939 45 with the irish r.c.'s he served with. to all who read this, remember the past, but don't look back with hatred, an eye for an eye, and we all go blind !!!

    • JesusBean

      I have the mix, I like the Irish, & the scots, I don't hate the orange, although I find fanaticism for a german queen unappealing, I am none the less tolerant. I also like the cornish and the welsh. Northern England has real good people but also has some thick backward ****.

      I find middle class southern English always trying to bash anything Irish and to be snidely, vindictive, and plastic. I find Freemasons generally to be ok to annoying, but I can think of the old ones who loved hating the Irish. They will always be complete ***** who will burn in Jimmy saville hell. Very manipulative middle class snides.

      Other than that you find good and bad in everyone, that includes the Irish as much as all the others. I've met Irish ******** as well.

    • Robert

      Hi all, I was born in England my parents also born in Blackburn, but I have aunties and cousins, let's say relatives who are Irish and Scottish, so does anyone think I'm part Scottish and Irish???

      Please reply thanks

  2. Karen

    Fantastic article! Will ring through for so many of us second generation. I too dislike the word Plastic Paddy. It's sad!

    • Geraldine

      I have never heard the term 'Plastic Paddy' but I did stop going back to Ireland as often as I used to because of people telling me that I wasn't 'real' Irish. When British people live on the continent they are seen as 'Brits abroad'. Nobody ever tells them they are not real Brits. I was born and educated in Ireland and I despise people who tell me that I am not 'real' simply because I live in England. Just remember, if I didn't live here then your children would have had to leave home. My son sees himself as a South East London Irishman.

  3. kay Talbot

    thank you rob brennan.....i have irish roots so proud of that, made me what i am today...Erin go Bragh xxxx
    p.s my mothers maiden name was brennan, from emly Co Tipperary xxx

    • Mary

      I know my Irish roots back to the first Irishman that floated there on a door! This is BS!

  4. Roger McCarrick

    Myself and my three sisters were born in Camden in London, lived in Kilburn and Chalk Farm. My mother was from Dublin my father is from Sligo. We spent every summer in Sligo. One difference with the author's story is that we moved back to Dundalk, Ireland (along the border) in the 70s when my mother inherited a house. I was 9, my oldest sister was 12, youngest was 6. Irish kids with English accents in a very Republican part of Ireland. Like the author I had to fight for my Irishness against terms like West Brit, Plastic Paddy and English Bastard.
    But I consider myself Irish, with England, or perhaps just London as my back-yard. I don't hate the English, I've always supported the English football team but only in the absence of an Irish team.
    I've been back to London many times, lived there for a year. My 3 sisters all went back to live there and after my mother died, my father went back to London for a few years.
    I live in Boston now and have been here longer than England or Ireland. 9 years in England, 14 years in Ireland and 23 years in Boston. When you're with the Irish in Boston, your Irish.
    I recall spending a summer in the 80s as a teenager in London looking for a job. The troubles in the North were intense and the Irish in London just did't have it good. So on a McDonalds application I was asked for my nationality, I wrote English for fear I wouldn't be considered otherwise. But I have never felt English.
    Does it matter? It must a little bit. I am not responsible for the mistakes, failures or successes of generations of English or Irish that came before me. I could choose to be English because they were winners, they had a great empire and great riches. I could reject being Irish because they had 900 years of losing. But it never felt like a choice to me, a toss-up, jumping on a band wagon. It just felt right and natural to be Irish. I must have asked my mother this question at one point because I always remember her asking me, "If you were born in China would you be Chinese?"

    • jim little

      roger i felt like this all my life, and i am a scots ulster background. when i was a kid i was told to go home ! your dad stroll our jobs, i was bullied and beaten but i was still very much a scots ulster prod in england. when i went home to work a question was asked..... what Chinese scotsman won a gold medal ? i was the only one who understood the question. a man can be born in a barn, it doe's not make him a horse. !!

    • Dennis McCormack

      I can relate to all the comments, myself, I was born in Manchester, I don't have an English bone in my body, my parents were both born in Limerick, their parents are from Cork/Dublin/Limerick and other places in Ireland, I had a shite time growing up, the worst were the Catholic priests & Nuns, they were like Nazi's, I was called all the usual names, I can say now at 66 years old, I am thankful for the life I have had in England, but my one regret is, I wish I had moved to Ireland when I was younger, people are narrow minded, if you open your mouth and you don't sound like Dubliner, you're not Irish, I found out a couple of years ago, this guy with a strong Irish accent used to say, you're not Irish, it turns out his great grandfather was English, so I had to point out to him, ALL my ancestors are pure Irish, he never mentioned it again, The last time I bumped into him, I asked him, are you not celebrating ST Georges day, oh well , good luck fellow plastic paddies.

    • caratom

      Well, as part of the 'modern' Diaspora I landed in Australia and have been
      here most of my life. I suppose I have picked up a bit of an Australian accent but I am indeed Irish.
      I 'go back' to Ireland every 2 years or so - still have family there -
      I sometimes get a bit of "hurry-up", and an Aussie Jibe; but still remembering some of my Irish - CBS St James - I can return the jibes with interest.
      Being Irish I never back down; I suggest you guys do likewise.
      Plastic Paddy => Never met the term but if I do the response will be swift and full. Yes I do have a "mouth" and a decent Brain to go with it!!!
      Nobody is going to dis me and expect to get out without a few 'licks'

  5. james

    very good article. I live on the edge of crumlin and Kimmage in Dublin 12. before the house's around here where built in the cristmas of 1915 a stream of second generation Irish from liverpool manchester, london glasgow etc started ariving in the area. they where called the Kimmage garrison and came to train and drill for the 1916 rising, they where the first standing unit of the IRA, first into the GPO, last to surrender, necleus of frongagh, their number during the tan war where in the likes of collins squad, tom barrys flying colum, the Soloheadbeg ambush and many more. But for 90 years they have been written out of the creation myths of the 26 county state. you nailed it when you siad we claim the sucessful but the rest we just sneer at. what right do we is this state have to anoint others who is and isn't irish, being irish is a state of mind the person who has it defines themselves no one else. if the Gathering is to be more than a money making racket then this state and people in it are going to have to challege some of their own lazy perceptions. again great article and well said.

  6. Eoin Ó Murchú

    I too was born in England, but my father's people were Famine Irish: that is they were evicted in 1846 and arrived in a hostile England that hated them. We knew we were Irish, evgen though I was born 100 years after my ancestors were driven out of Ireland. I speak Irish, which is the real badge of nationality, so nobody calls me a plastic Paddy in case I ask them as gaeilge an féidir leo míniú a thabhairt.
    Learn Irish, speak Irish, be Irish and to hell with Brits, west Brits and Free Staters.

    • John O'Keeffe

      So your mother's not Irish we can infer? So to hell with her too is it?

    • Pablo

      You're a knobhead Eoin.

  7. James Butler

    Rob, your article touches a chord with me too. I was born in West London in 1961, my mother from Mayo, my father from Waterford living initially in a bedsit in Holland Road just down from Shepherds Bush Green. I had exactly the same childhood of going to RC schools away form Notting Hill & so being different to the C of E kids around me in Notting Hill. As the Dublin born Wellington said about himself, "a dog born in a stable is not a horse" I've always considered myself 100% Irish, as my view is that each of the peoples of the isles are descended via blood, so if you don't have the blood you can't belong, So I could never be English. British yes, but not English.

  8. andy

    Born too Irish parents in a suburb of Birmingham where the majority of people are born from Irish lineage I have always referred too myself as Irish. I was brought up on Irish traditions, me and my elder brother playing gaelic football and my two sisters playing camogie and Iirsh dancing. There was no question in the whole community when Ireland played England who you would support, naturally Ireland. Nights out would be going see Irish bands visiting ocal Irish pubs and gaelic sports always took a precendence over football However in recent years I have began too question my Irishness from the time I spent travlleing the world. I met a lot of young irish lads and lasses on my travells. Many found it absurd that I claimed too be Irish held an Irish passport and upheld Irish tradtions. Some people infact took massive offence and were disgusted by my so called allegations of Irishness. Ill tell you now while I was travelling Id have happily been branded a plastic paddy, (even though I myself hate the term) at least Id have some recognition of my Irish roots. Its made me think a lot over the last few years and question who am I and what do i represent. Should the attitudes of these young Irish lads and lasses affect who I am or is it im a mongral with no real ownership

    • Liam

      Andy,you shouldn`t let anyone make you question your nationality.My story is very similar to your`s,born and bred here in England -Bradford to Irish born parents.Many`s the time I`ve had to field questions,hostility and ridicule from people over here but my own feelings regarding my "Irishness" have never wavered.No one has ever touched me.These people who`ve called your nationality into question have done so through bone ignorance.I believe that one has to be F.B.I -Foreign Born Irish to fully understand that we are irrefutably Irish,we shouldn`t even be having to have this discussion really should we? I`d go as far to say that your appreciation of your being Irish runs infinitely deeper than theirs which is in itself all the "qualification" needed.Good luck a chara.

    • paul

      Andy, you are who you are lad! Do not let anyone define who you are that is for you alone!

  9. eric

    I was born in scotland and knew we had irish roots but not sure how many generations back.When doing some research found a great aunt and uncle had went to the U.S.A in 1927, on entering they gave thier nationality as Irish, both were born and bred in scotland.I then informed my cousin, he said his father (my uncle)considered himself a displaced Irishman.My own mother never expressed any such views .I am myself am drawn to Irish culture and history.

  10. Declan abbott

    If a donkey is born in a stable does that make him a horse?

    • Mary McCarthy

      No it doesn't change the blood line! If you are born with 100% Irish Blood , Irish Heart, you are as Irish as they are, born there!

  11. John rooney

    A very good story hit home with me and my family I also put it on Facebook and we all agree its like you read our minds

  12. Tony Hennigan

    Im not concerned with term Plastic Paddy but do prefer second generation. I have never felt anything but a warm welcome from my idiots to Ireland and Mayo. You don't have to be a Rock star or a celeb to have the Green and Red carpet rolled out for you for theGathering. I know that the people of Manchester and Mayo are very excited about our forthcoming 9 day event in August . I suppose I would class myself as an Irish Mancunian with a Green heart and warm Red blood together with a love for the Blue half oft the City. The 2013 Gathering is a unique opportunity for Ireland to really sell itself as a tourist destination and for the diaspora around the world to reconnect with home. We have had calls and emails from as far away as Australia from people we don't even know getting excited a out it and its up to people like me and you to play our part in making it happen.

    • tony mcguire

      As i was born in Manchester but spent many years off and on in Mayo the home of my father,went to school in Geesala,made my first holy comunion in the same village but then brought up in Manchester,all my cousins live in Mayo and when i return i am treted like a lost brother.Over the last month after spending 3 weeks in Mayo and a long weekend in the Manchester's Irish festivel and meeting so many warm and frendly people,i now know that my roots are firmly in Ireland, the home of my father,i love M/C and surport city,have met and shook hands with the great man himself who turns M/C green each year,Tony Hennigan, thanks to all who make us proud to be Irish.

  13. Martin Campbell

    Does it really mater where you where born no choice in the mater.
    I think if I where born from Irish parents outside of Ireland I would feel comfortable describing myself as a Celt.
    Anybody can be English or Irish but the bottom line is one is a Celt and the other is Saxon therefore an Arab is an Arab an African will always be seen as an African despite where they are born.
    We are all human and that is important to remember.

    • Nollaig Byrne

      Sorry, but the idea that Irish people are Celts and English are Saxons is ludicrous.

      The Celts settled in both Ireland and England (and a lot of other places too), the Romans settled in England but not Ireland, the Vikings settled in Ireland and England, the Saxons settled in England, the Normans settled in both, and Ulster was mainly planted by Scots who in turn were mainly descended from Irish, none of these invaders/settlers pushed the pre-existing people out, they may have fought with them and taken land from them, but eventually they all settled down and intermarried, the phrase "they became more Irish than the Irish themselves" has been used for both Vikings and Normans and I'm sure there's an English equivalent.

      Irish and British people are all a mixture of Celtic, Viking, Saxon, Norman and whatever else you can think of blood, there are very few, if any, pure Celts or pure Saxons.

      After centuries of intermarriage between Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish how could it be any different?

      You just have to look at the amount of Irish people with Norman names, Burke, Fitzgerald, Fitzpatrick, Plunkett, Redmond etc So how are Irish people with Norman heritage Celts, and English people with Norman heritage (Beaumonts, Grosvenors, Nevilles etc) Saxons? They're not, we're all a mixture of lots of different heritages.

      Which isn't to say that Irish and English are the same, there are a lot of cultural, historical, political and other differences between us, I'm just saying it's not as simple as we're all Celts and they're all Saxons.

  14. Jp Hayes

    Great piece and I can see alot of myself in your articles. I too, went to Cardinal Wisemans and I would say nearly 60% of my year were of irish parents. Many a time we headed off to the national in kilburn, to see the mighty Wolfe tones. No school on the following day!!

    Being around so many fellow 2nd generation irish, had a VERY profound affect on me and how I viewed myself. From now on, it was wolfe tones/dubliners/moving hearts and not david Bowie/heaven 17 or dire straights.

    Saturday nights were spent in the shebeen in Acton, rather than the hammersmith palais!

    Explaining to strangers that you're Irish, is always a tough one. But you dont sound Irish??? To me, being Irish is all about the way you view life and how you interact with people. Not drinking Guinness/wearing a Kerry jersey or liking the Pogues!
    Explore your Irish heritage. Go and see irish plays/trad music. But above all else, be kind to others and try to help strangers. These are the traits of a real irish man/woman.
    Funny how I subconsciously live in Willesden Green and prior to that Cricklewood! !!
    Up Tippearary! !!

    • Simon

      I love Guinness AND the Pogues, and I am Irish...or, after reading the comment by Jp Hayes, at least I thought I was!

  15. Caroline Cassidy

    I am an Irish Mancunian and extremely proud of the fact. I love that I grew up in a strong Irish community in Manchster, which is still thriving. The term plastic paddy to me and those around in Manchester, just tends to be used for the Irish born over here that adopt an Irish accent, that is plastic as it is not real, although they probably are really Irish. The way I see it, I was made from a completely Irish man and a completely Irish woman, without becoming to graphic (we all know how a baby is made and which element of the man and which element of the woman makes the foeteus), how can I possibly be English if the ingredients that made me were completely Irish. If you made a mallet out of wood in a brick factory it wouldn't become brick hammer would it?? The dog born in the stable doesn't become a horse. I'm Irish through and through, but I am proud of Manchester. Irish Mancunian, I love that!!

  16. Peter S

    Interesting article especially the part about you watching the 1990 World Cup. I was born in Ireland but moved to London in the late 80's. It was being back in Ireland watching the 1990 world cup when I really realised I was Irish.
    On the discussion you attended that got you thinking I wouldn't let a discussion that includes Peter Sheridan and Margaret Ritchie influence you. His claim to fame is being the highest ranking RC in the RUC. An organisation that any genuine Irish person should know was responsible for murdering innocent Irish people for decades.
    Margaret Ritchie isn't even liked in the SDLP.
    If you live each day as an Irish man or woman and accept the benefits and the downfalls of being Irish you are Irish.
    That is why I wouldn't consider the Gallagher brothers Irish. They both used to pine about their Irishness but then during Britpop at their height of fame did they show their Irishness or did they put a Union flag on their guitars?
    Sin e

  17. Claire

    I class myself as English of Irish decent. I was born in England as were my parents and theirs. My Mother's grandparents were O'Sheas and Turners living in the East End. My father's paternal family is English yet his maternal family were Irish travellers Carey's & O'Connors. I have more Irish blood than English. However I am lucky & privileged to belong to both I get the best of both worlds. I have always Irish danced and remember my Nan playing rebel songs.
    I am looking forward to one day visiting Ireland and tracing the family roots which so far seem to be in Cork Waterford & Sligo.

  18. Craig Maher

    Fantastic article, puts into words how I have felt since as early as I can remember. I was born in Bolton, England, my Father hails from Portarlington Co. Laois and my Mum from Baileborough in Co. Cavan. We never had the Irish thing forced upon us growing up but I always felt Irish, that is until I visited Ireland and was often felt a traitor because of my birthplace, something I couldn't help. Regardless of this I still, and always will feel Irish, my 2 daughters consider themselves English as they were both born here to an English mother, but they are never forget their Irish roots and are quite happy to don their green jerseys when Ireland play at the football or rugby. When England play, they of course don their England shirts while I go out shopping or something more interesting !!!

  19. Siobhan

    Great article. Hit the nail on the head!
    Born of an Irish father and an English mother, raised in London but summer holidays in Ireland presented the same dilemma. However whilst my father told me to be proud I was Irish and my mother said be proud your English I have never experienced prejudice from the English; only the Irish who seem to think if you haven't the accent your not one of them. What a shame because I consider myself happily to be both- just as my parents intended. So listen up Irish relatives!!!!

  20. Laura

    This is an issue I have always been aware of, complicated further by the fact my father was half Welsh half English and my Mother was Irish. I was born in London. what am I? Well my answer has always been:
    By blood, I'm half Irish, quarter English and a quarter welsh
    By culture, I'm London Irish
    Ireland isn't home to me, although i love it - London is

  21. Jason

    I was born in paddington and grew up in an Irish family and stayed in England for 30 years. I'm now living in Connemara with my own young family we have been here for nearly 6 years but I felt more Irish living in London as I felt the Irish community spirt was always present.

  22. Michael Burke

    As someone who was born in Birmingham to Irish parents (from Mayo, ironically) I found and indeed find myself with the exact situation. I'm 25, so really I'm probably the carbon copy of yourself. I was never pushed in to being Irish, but I was taken to Ireland on holiday and shown where my Mom and Dad grew up and where they would cut the turf for the fire. One year I actually participated in doing it (well as much as 6 year old could help!). I feel Irish, I can identify with the Irish more. There is no real English culture to be part of, and it's nothing I could really associate with. It's not that I've never been involved in it, or been given a taste of it, but it's just something I could never do. A bit like putting Marmite on toast. You either like it or you don't.

    The problem is exactly what you say, you have to be successful to be accepted as Irish. I have found though that this applies to some English people who take a very black and white attitude. "You were born in Birmingham, you're English. It doesn't matter what your f**king passport says" - a statement I grappled with during secondary school. But it was always nice to shut them up by asking what the nationality of David O'Leary was. "He's Irish". But he was born in London and moved to Dublin at the age of 3? It soon shut them up.

  23. Tom Beisty

    Great piece....Nice so many feel so strongly Irish.... It was always a surprise to me that my kids were and are so Irish and their kids are now too....with the grace of God it'll continue....thanks for the read

  24. Tara O'Malley

    Great Article - I'm staying in Keel with with my parents and new husband. I do miss the VI though ..... xx

  25. Larry Mansfield

    A cat born in a stable isn't a horse

  26. Declan

    I was born in 1959 in the East End of London to Dublin born parents and like many of contributors there was always confusion as to who i was . On my 6 weeks in Dublin , 2 weeks at Easter and 2 weeks at Christimas in Dublin i was that Cockney kid and back in the East End , with my fluctuating accent i was that Paddy....... it was hard growing up at that time and going to a tough comprehensive school called Declan and it pushed me to read about Ireland and its history and i quickly relaised why it was an issue. I loved going to Dublin and loved mixing with all my relatives but you still felt an outsider and you did back in very proud of Irish/ Dublin roots as i am with my London roots and i hold proud my Irish passport

  27. Martin Togher

    Interesting article, my parents came over in the 50s from Mayo and Limerick. They settled in Bath after periods in Birmingham and London. I had an Irish accent as a young child, spent summers in Mayo and Limerick. I no longer have the accent, and have spent 24 years in London with occasional visits back to Ireland for weddings and funerals. More regular visits to Birmingham which still has a thriving Irish Community, an Irish cousin runs an Irish club there. I would describe myself as Anglo-Irish .

  28. Anthony Fitzgerald

    I hope the 3rd generation of Anglo-Irish are more supportive of the land where they were born and grew up. My Celtic ancestry is further removed then a lot of the contributors here - two Welsh grandmothers and an Irish great grandfather, but I am English born and proud of it. I don't feel British, just English. It's a shame I can't put that on official forms and passport applications........

  29. Marian

    Very interesting article which evoked many thoughts.
    Second generation Irish myself my parents were the most common or economic migrants from Roscommon and Cork. Ironically after they both died I moved back to Galway with my English husband and my second son was born there. Sadly we had to come back to the UK but I felt privileged to have felt my feet and given birth back on the same piece of land where my parents were born.
    My brother lives in Ireland there with his Irish wife but his three Irish children are now scattered - economic migrants again. Two in Australia and one in Scotland. This saddens me enormously. Ireland seems to go in circles scattering its children to the wind. I crave to have the whole family back together but perhaps this is just a dream.
    Thank you for that article Rob. I so empathise the feeling of "going home" - a strange spiritual feeling so many feel when they set foot back on Irish soil.

  30. Marian

    Love it! I tell everyone I'm from the 33rd county of Ireland, if they were ever in London from 60's to late 90's they would know what I mean.....those that don't never walked in our shoes!
    If I had written this article it would be very similar. I was one of the girls going to Irish dance lessons, I even went to the same school in Greenford, but I NEVER SUPPORTED ENGLAND in my entire life!!!
    I find the Celtic Tiger generation Irish the ones with the least acceptance of London-Irish people being Irish, they have no experience of their parents living on a foreign soil. I am living in New Zealand now and when I meet young Irish here or in Australia they have no concept of the fact that when they marry a nice Kiwi or Aussie girl their children will be products of immigration JUST LIKE ME!!!

  31. jim

    I hate the fact that I was born in London to Irish parents. In england I'm called a paddy by my "proper" english mates and in Ireland I'm called a brit (which I hate). I know I'm Irish, It's the way I was reared (R.C school, irish pubs, passport, irish employers..).

    However, as people have already stated, when You go travelling and meet other irish and claim to be irish, you often get laughed at. I lived in Australia for sevral years and whilst working in Sydney for a Cork sub-contractor found myself never really fitting in with other irish people unless they knew me and realised I wasn't "putting it on" and that I am who I am. I lived in Ireland for a while too and got the same treatment there also.

    It seems the only place we are accepted as irish (by the irish) is the little bubble we live in in whatever part of whatever city in the u.k we were reared.

    When ever people ask me where i'm from I always say London. Never England. Hopefully my kids won't suffer the identity crisis I did.

  32. clark malone

    Brilliant article.I myself have a Dublin father and a Down Mother and was brought up in Greenford West London and your feelings & experiences are much the same as mine.I too followed the boys in green and can well remember going to Ireland away games and feeling very much an outsider.
    'learn the words to 'our' songs before you come and watch the boys in green'.I just wanted to smack him right there and then.How dare he question my nationality.I didnt hit him, just aswell , he was huge! But I came across this resentment regularly.
    Shane McGowan summed it up - None of it matters, if you dont live in Ireland,living in Hammersmith or North London is the next best thing!'
    I'd like to have seen 'that' Irish fan question Shane's 'Irishness!
    Top article my man...............Im Irish to the core!!!!

    • D. Murray

      Believe it or not, as incredulous as it sounds,there are 6 Counties Catholic's who had the same sort of grief you got when they traveled to support the Boys in Green, says more about the perpetrators than those on the receiving end...

  33. john mcinnes

    i was born in liverpool . i have two scottish grandparents , one irish and one welsh and believe you me it leaves me . i dont feel quite english and never have .most of the people i was brought up with had a mainly irish or welsh ancestry so the feeling for england and her institutions has never figured very highly . i think liverpool seems quite unlike most english cities in that respect . its not that we are anti english and i am maybe generalising a bit here but we have a fondness for those celtic nations our grandparents/great grandparents hailed from . i am learning scots gaelic at the moment its hard but i want to learn the language of my ancestors .

  34. Sean

    My Father was born in London in 1952 of Irish parents from Limerick...apart from my name I've never considered myself Irish...and after that poor women died last year of septicemia after being denied an abortion i'm glad i dont!

    • Dan


  35. Chris C

    Great article ! I sometimes feel like i'm living in a no mans land my father and mother class me as Irish, I have an Irish passport, my English friends class me as Irish but when i return 'home' to Ireland i've been subject to abuse especially by the younger Irish generation. I class myself as half Irish and half English and i don't understand why that offends so many young Irish in this day and age.

  36. Thomas Daniel

    Like the article states,Irish born people only claim those "Irish" born outside of Ireland as their own once some form of fame is attached. I Spent some time in America in a predominitely irish area where my second generation irish status was questioned and laughed at. However,when asked them what nationality James Connolly was,well you can bet none of them said he was Scottish!! Oh,and Che Guevera,well of course he was Irish too...forget the tenuous links to his Irishness!! And of cousre Eamon Bulfin...not even heard of him,the shame!! So the famous Argentine-Irishman doesn't even register on the "plastic Paddy" scale!! I did try and educate them on Father Fahy,Pat McCarthy and of course William(Guillermo)Brown but to no avail!! The history and influence of the Irish in Argentina (South America...Bernado O'Higgins??) could be something the Irish post could do an article on maybe..just saying!!! I am a proud Mancunian,and felt even prouder after this years parade,born to Irish parents therefore a proud Irish-Mancunian.I have no cause of concern of what other Irish or non irish think of that,its not something that is up for debate or change. However,if i never visited Ireland again i wouldn't miss it,its something that is a part of me not something i need to be a part of,i love the music and its history but give me a Tango show over Lord of the Dance anyday!!

  37. David

    I'm over in Auckland now, and unfortunately, I've seen a great deal of bitterness from "proper, true irish young'ns". I've been told if you are not "born and bread in Ireland you're not Irish". Vicious I would describe some of those that said it as. Others, who you know, of course, say the same thing. But when they don't, they'll happily try and give you a slap after a couple of pints.

    • D.Murray

      The native Irish who embrace and accept the Second Generation invariably tend to be friendly, broad minded people, more quintessentially Irish in character than their mean spirited, insular and parochial counterparts with their over enunciated accents and 'listen to me, I'm Irish' schtick.

      • patrick

        Your right here. I'm born and bread Irish, with Irish in me as far back as I know, and honestly, it really annoys me how some Irish people act,completely unIrish in character. It annoys me so much, that when I book my holidays or whenever I am going anywhere in the world for whatever reason, I tend to avoid most Irish people as they can be quite nasty. I agree with this article completely, but I also believe, us Irish tend to put every type of person in to stereotypical categories, which is a very narrow minded way of living. Most Irish people who shout their mouths off, don't even know their own heritage, think they know everything, but in fact know very little, and they blame evryone else for Irelands downfalls, however, it is the behaviour and attitudes of these people, that is truly hurting Ireland and everything it stands for

  38. Oonagh o'Sullivan

    Powerful article, struck a chord. Liked it enough to make a comment.

    Travelling as a backpacker on an Irish passport with an English accent (having been brought up in North London amongst clans of fellow Irish families) I couldn't get a job in an Irish pub because I didn't have the brogue. Having worked in our West Cork and Cavan families' Irish pub in Holloway Road, pulling my first pint at the age of 11, I was more than qualified. The only people I've ever had to convince of my Irish ness is the Irish.
    No matter though because I Know I am Irish, true and true.
    If its in your heart, no man or woman can take it from you.

  39. Steve

    I am an English born Catholic (former alter boy) of an Irish mother whose family contained Catholic priests and many staunch republicans. My father is English and can trace the family roots in England back to the 1500s.
    Who am I? personally,I believe nationalism and patriotism in any form just leads to bigotry and hate. I liked what JP Hayes posted earlier "being Irish is all about the way you view life and how you interact with people" I hope that applies to all of us, whoever we think we are!

  40. John Carroll

    Having read all the posts I have to say how impressed I am by the extremely positive comments from the "Irish Mancunian" contingent, who seem to be really proud of both their Irish and Mancunian heritage. Could anyone explain to an outsider like me just what it is about Manchester that seems to make the second-generation Irish of the city feel so comfortable with their status?

    • Thomas Daniel

      John Carrol..i can only assume you would hear the same from Leeds,Liverpool,London,B'ham..etc etc..its something i haven't given any thought too to be honest!!! Manchester is a great City with a great history and a strong Irish link going back to the Peterloo massacre through to today!! To me and majority of my fiends its just who we are,sorry i can't give you any other explanation!!

    • D. Murray

      Growing up in Manchester or Liverpool imbues you with a sense of place, heritage, identity and culture, (plus an accent that imparts wit and warmth) that you don't get from from miserable unfriendly London suburb. I'm of the opinion that a Liverpool or Manchester Irish person is generally better received as 'closer to home' than someone who speaks with the accent of England's South East.

      • Christine

        D. Murray - Believe me my South East accent and wit is very well received at home!! Your wit gave me a good laugh in this miserable suburb of London this morning though so thanks!! 😉

  41. Áine

    This article also struck a chord with me with the exception that I was brought up in Scotland, not England. My parents are from Belmullet, Co Mayo and like everyone else here, spent all my summers & other holidays there, Irish Danced, etc. My family consider me Irish, when back in Mayo, always 'welcomed home'.

    The only people who seem to take offence of my Irishness are the young Irish that I run into in an Irish bar abroad, Thailand, Australia & even in Scotland. I always find it ironic cos any celebrity out there, such as Obama, they are quick to find any Irish heritage.

    I am Irish and proud! Sin é

  42. James

    Oh build a bridge and get over it the term plastic paddy has been around for years and will never go away while there is still hatred in the Irish people and as for the Irish londoner song how many members of that band picked up a shovel and where covered in muck and shit with bad wages leaving the house at 6 and not returning until half seven. It used to be working hours of 7.30 till 4.30 or 8 till 5 it's your Irish contractor who brought in 7.30 till six and twelve hour shifts meaning that if u have a wife and kids u never get to see them I know what I am I'm my own person and could not really give two fucks about England and Ireland I have lived in both and there is good and bad in both but the Irish subbie in England is a greedy bastard

    • john gilligan

      I love all of this, and I am a plastic paddy from Paddington, spent a lot of my early adulthood working for a galway contractor as a brickie, got called a plastic paddy but never took it to heart, I am 55 years old now, and it is only now that I yearn for a period of my life in Ireland, but only because I would of hoped I'd fit in with my English wife and kids, but like you I am my own man and feel well able to point out to any Irishman that both my parents had to leave for work but I am returning there by product, so like it or lump it, perhaps the name callers are a bit green around the fatucalls as my father used to say.

  43. Ryan O Dohmnaill

    In the words of the Morrissey song- Irish Blood, English Heart ?????

  44. Ciara

    This is a really well written piece, it's refreshing to know that there is a little "club" of us who all feel the same. I was born in London to an Irish mother and Indian father. Being born to immigrants from two former British-ruled countries, I was always going to be raised to be non-English. My mum is from West Cork, her relatives fought against the British army in the Revolution and as a result of this there was always a strong sense of Irish pride in our house. As children we had what seems to be a very typical upbringing amongst us all, strong Irish Catholic upbringings, encouraging us to get involved in as many typically Irish hobbies as possible. I spent my summers with my relatives in Cork, who are all still over there, and when I speak to them they always say "when are you coming home?" because that is exactly what it feels like. Home. I would move there tomorrow if I knew I could get a job and live a comfortable life, but unfortunately due to the fact that they are financially crippled, I don't think I'll get that chance.

    The bit I object to the most is people calling me a "Brit". Quite simply, I am not. I did not choose to be born in England. My choice is to proudly profess my Irishness to whoever will listen, I wear my green shirt with "BOD" on the back during the 6 Nations, the only bit of the Olympics I watched was Katie Taylor and I will support the Irish football team, no matter how frustrating it might be. I just wish that Irish-born people wouldn't disregard our national pride due to something so trivial as an accent.

    • colin walsh

      They is no such thing as half white, You are indian !!!

  45. Steve Neary

    Yes an excellent piece….

    Just like the many notes logged already my parents would travel back to Ireland with all the family on tow during school holidays and boy did we enjoy the freedom and generally the warm welcome from our aunties, uncles, cousins and the locals etc… At 1 stage we were very close to moving back during the 70’s when my parents bought a place. Castlebar was nearly home for us all but we just didn't settle.

    Ireland for me is about it’s people, that is what makes it so great. Yes it beautiful and I have travelled and seen every county so I can vouch for that. But it is the people that are its heart and soul. I did feel it was loosing its way when the Celtic tiger was roaring loudly. The chasing of the pound and who could build the biggest house became more important than caring or just being there for someone… Now as sad as it is to find Ireland struggling with emigration again and the financial hardships it does seem to be finding its old identity back and people do seem to have the time of day for you again…. Long may it last!!!

    I think all of whom are proud to say they are of Irish decent have suffered in 1 way shape or form with the comments made in the article. I am another Mancunian Irish person who is happy to say I have an affinity with both my birthplace and my parent’s homelands of Mayo and Donegal. I class myself as a new breed MancIrish and very proud of both links.

    I remember once saying to a friend of mine who had a problem with being called Irish even though he was the same as me with Irish parents. I see myself a bit like a child who has a black mum and a white dad. Is the child black or white? He’s half cast so a bit of both so why can’t I be the same with Manchester and Ireland?

    Manchester in general has a great feel to it and especially the Irish community who have settled over the years. There is a real community feel which is a lot like Ireland of old. I think the Irish decent kids have been brought up within that and have generally stuck together, we had our own clubs and pubs and you looked after each other. A little piece of Ireland within Manchester if you like… I remember in the early 80’s when Toss The Feathers hit the scene it was buzzing. Some of the finest Irish musicians in the world have come from that period and all Mancs and proud of it…

    Manchester is fantastic place, the Irish who left their homelands to try and find a better future have helped develop it and make it what it is today. I think once you have left home and seen a little of the world too you do get a better understanding of other peoples cultures and beliefs and maybe just a little more tolerant…

  46. O'Ghairbhain

    We have no choice as to what family,culture,country or belief system we are born into. It can be a struggle finding your way in the world, in terms of identity, yet there are points of reference with which we can relate to. Only we ourselves can feel comfortable in our own skin. What others think of us or impose on us in terms of social acceptance is often born of their own prejudice and bigoted view of how the world is.
    I am a 3rd generation Irish in London, I embraced Islam as a young man and have married a second generation North African girl, we have children, all born in London with different likes and affinities to both their ethnic heritages and others outside of them. I have no time for nationalism per se as it is divisive, leaving people with feelings of inadequacy based on other peoples perceptions.
    Most of my friends are 2nd or third generation immigrants, Jamaican,Irish,Pakistani ,whatever. The fact that we are Londoners is more relevant.
    I am never Irish enough for the Irish, that doesn't bother me. St Patrick was English and St George was Kurdish, people never learn. Eamon De Valera was part Cuban. The Irish have a strong culture with which I identify and feel comfortable with,(I was brought up on it), but the earth is wide and vast and is full of many interesting people and cultures.
    Nationalism leads to racism, which I abhor.
    If people don't accept you for what you are, it's their problem...

  47. Luke

    I'm half-irish, and was born in England but I see myself as being English, not that it really matters.

  48. Patrick Geary

    I always thought I was half-Irish. I thought I was born in Nuneaton in 1950. My father was from Roscommon and my mum was local. Fast forward to 1986 some years after the loss of my parents. A relative informs me that I'm not half-Irish. I was adopted. So that pride of my Irish blood was for nothing.Still had that feeling. Started a search for my birth mum. Result !! My mum came from Clifden Co Galway.Those feelings of belonging to Ireland must be genetic. Some years later I traced my mum (I once used the Irish Post letter page)but she had passed away exactly one year before I found her. But I found I had four brothers and we have visited Ireland together. I have relatives in Galway,Roscommon,Sligo and Dublin. I love Ireland, don't know why,it's just a feeling,can't put it into words. It's the music,the accent,the countryside,the craic and most of all it's the people,it's family. And that to me is the most important thing. Just wish I got the chance to meet my birth mum. But I was lucky to have had loving parents. My Irish father brought me up to be tolerant of all people no matter where they came from. My English mum brought me up as her own and loved me as her own. I still miss them.

  49. Trevor Condon

    I moved to Ireland when I was 7. It was 1979. The part of Ireland I moved to had no British television. Some teachers who were raised in rural villages did not like me because I was English. That stays with you.A siege mentality is formed.If anything moving to Ireland made me love all things British. The ironic thing about it is if my family stayed in England I would be probably one of these people who likes the Pogues. I don't.I prefer the Prodigy.Irish people that immigrate to Britain should let their children become British and integrate. It is as simple as that.

    • Áine

      @ Trevor C - that's a shame you didn't feel welcome in Ireland, that was unfortunate but making your kids become fully British as a result, I don't agree with. My child has an Irish name and will always be made aware of her heritage.

    • Dan

      Try reading a history book why don't you

  50. Patrick McGinty

    This is a bloody good article. I'm pleased and satisfied that the antics in achill involving Rob Brennan and the McGinty clan inspired a report such as this. I hope those days give lasting memories and reinforce your Identity as a true Irish man. None of us ever question our validity as Irish citizens and why would we ? If we are good enough to celebrate our culture with songs drink and gaa then we should be embraced as Irish not this plastic tag or half breed nonsense. Keep up the good work and remember to include st josephs gaa from Derby for a feature report on an up and coming team in the warwickshire league lol. All the best

  51. Rob Brennan

    Thanks for all the comments, delighted it has touched so many of you.

    Patrick McGinty! Been a long old time. It was you and your brothers, along with my cousins on those nights out in Achill I was on about alright. Hope you are all well. Keep the Irish Post informed about events in Burton.

    Oh the Green and red of Mayo. Alice, Alice... who the :) Good times. All the best.

  52. Erica

    Interesting points. Unfortunately, extremely poorly written.

  53. Kevin

    A nice article, as a Northerner now living in Dublin I can empathise to a degree. I never had a doubt about my Irishness growing up, indeed during the troubles it was badge of honour or a millstone depending on the situation. I came to Dublin expecting to come home, only to face indifference and open hostility. I have realised that even within the landmass there are differences, the greatest between Dublin and the rest of Ireland. Your identity is very much an innate sense rather than a geographical or demographic trait. I hope that whatever identity you aspire to rests comfortably with you and others.

  54. Sean Doyle

    Interesting article. I was born in Dublin but we moved to England when I was 5, in 1959. we lived in Wolverhampton, and we moved back to Ireland in 1974. I was always Irish and proud. i used to have rows with cousins in london who supported the England football team instead of Ireland. I'm 30 years in New york now, and they love the irish. Be proud of your ancestry and ignore the begrudgers.

  55. Richard

    A nation is similar to a club. It has members and rules that make it unique. But a club can easily be transformed into its weapon form; excluding and elitist, held high and proud, used in the last line of defence or to brutally attack and oppress. A nation can act like a club, but should ensure that it does not become the club.

    This is what I have learned throughout my life. I am the first person in my family to ever come to Ireland. I used to live in Nottingham and my family originated in Cornwall. No nationalist or patriotic sentiment can eternally distract you from what you essentially are; they are merely layers of persona disguising you from being in your natural state - an incredible creation of God. I love Ireland and I love the people, but even so, both England and Ireland are swallowed by the tribalism promoted and endured in Europe that becomes wearisome, as people continue to cling on to their homelands and refuse to let go, reluctant in acknowledging that no human being is more important than the other, regardless of where they come from.

    The Messenger of Allah (saaw) said, "He is not one of us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah." In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) referring to nationalism, racism, and patriotism said: "Leave it, it is rotten." and in the Hadith recorded in Mishkat al-Masabith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said, "He who calls for `Asabiyyah is as if he bit his father's genitals", and "There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors; but in the sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust."

  56. Amanda

    This article really touched a cord with me. I was born in West London to a Cork mum and a Kerry father. Like you stated, I went to the local catholic school and everyone in the school was the daughter or son of an immigrant so I had no real English friends, the school was made up of Irish/Caribbean/Italian and Spanish children. I spent all my summers back in Ireland and was used to my cousins taking the mick out of me and my brothers accents but knew they loved us coming over and never saw any problems with it. Yes we were different from them and grew up quicker because we were London kids. I would go as far in saying we were more aware than them and could near enough predict their behaviour, were as we were a mystery to them and they were always a little bit wary of us. I always saw myself as Irish and did Irish hobbies, my brother was in the GAA, and as children we always supported Ireland ! It was only when I went to University that I met real English people and mixed with real English friends, and I found them so different to myself and the friends I had grown up with and never really connected with them.

    Anyway what makes me so sad is that when I started to become a teenager I started to notice a hostile attitude when we would go back to Ireland. I was refused service in a bar in Cork one night and told to leave because the bar man said I was English and he didn't serve English people. I then had another incident in a Deli where the girl behind the counter refused to fill my sandwich roll,claiming she did not serve brits. My mum was outside in the car and came in and gave her an earful and she was so embarrassed and apologised to me. I found the two incidents funny if I'm honest, and enjoyed telling my cousins and grandparents what had happened. I knew it was wrong, but a part of me understood considering everything that had happened with the English down through the years.

    Anyway a few years ago I decided to move to Dublin and get a job. I had a good job in the city of London in the business world and knew there were many jobs in my area of expertise in Ireland. However what I was not prepared for was the hostile, rude and racist attitude I received. I received many terrible comments with professional people asking me what visa I was on? and basically looking down upon me and many claiming that I was not Irish and that I was a wannabe?? I had to keep on explaining on many occasions who and what I was, which was emotionally exhausting. How the hell did I get an Irish passport? was what one recruitment agency asked me and politely mentioned that I should go home to England. I was so shocked as this was not a country town,where I would of expected this behaviour, but this was Dublin? Which is meant to be a so called city!!! far from it!!! and these were top firms and banks speaking to me like this,? I was shocked and still am when I write this. This is something I have kept mainly to myself,as it shocked me so much. I now live back in London and it did make me look at Ireland and its people in a different way. I started to think was it something I did wrong? and maybe it was me? but luckily for me on my last week in Dublin I was in a coffee shop and sat at a table with another girl in her early 30s and she like me had grown up in London to Irish parents with her Dad actually being from Dublin and her mum from Donegal and she casually asked me how I was finding Dublin? and I blurted everything out and she had the exact same stories as me and since then we have become really good friends, and guess what she now lives back in London. So if any Irish living in Ireland are reading this, think twice before you open your mouth when you hear an english accent, because were could be the children of immigrants and are just as Irish as you and thats something you need to understand. I still love Ireland and always will, this is not going to effect my overall opinion but wanted to share my experience with others.

  57. Andrew Thompson

    I have had similar experiences during the handful of visits I made back "home" when I was a child. It took me a while to realise that Northern Irish nationalists were being treated the same as us plastic paddies. I guess it was partly a guilty reaction to a very deep question around Irish national impotence and failure.
    I remember being over once at my Mum's home in Roscommon. A cousin from America was over at the same time and it was very clear that she was regarded as Irish whilst we with our London twangs were suspect. It's ironic given that it was the transfer payments back home that our parents made in the sixties and seventies that laid the foundations of Irish modernity.
    To be fair senior Irish politicians have done a lot of good trying to recognise the complete Irish diaspora and not just those with the right accents. So who knows in a few more decades we might all be invited into the parlour!

  58. Enda Fay

    After reading some of these posts I couldn't help but post!I'm Irish born and bread so I can't really identify with your experience,but in my opinion If you have irish parents or roots I see no problem with identifying yourself as irish,eveybody has a right to want to know their History and where then came from,I have a brother dating an English girl born to Irish parents living in london,and if I met her In england I would subconsciously identify her as Irish

  59. Enda Fay

    I'm Irish born and raised I fell everybody has a right to identify with their heritage,I know somebody dating a girl born in london to Irish parents,and I SHE identifies herself as Irish and I subconsciously do as well

  60. Ciaran Murray

    If you have just 1 drop of Irish blood your 100% Irish

    • Vanessa

      Both my parents are born and bread Irish, all my brothers and sisters and I where born in the UK. I have and always will class myself as Irish.
      I had an Italian friend who's parents where born and bread Italian yet like me he was born in the UK.
      We where both called English but I'm Irish he is Italian.
      He explained the solution to this in a very good way...
      You don't lead a pig to a stable and call it a horse!!

      • Vanessa

        Sorry guys predictive changed bred to bread. Ha ha

  61. Sweden_Finland plastik päddi

    Great reading from a Sweden-Finnish perspective! In the 60's-70's about half a million Finns emigrated to Sweden and now we have about a million people in Sweden and Finland, who share the same dilemma as yer plastic paddies. I think we'd all be better off with less blood-talk and that we'd learn to appreciate our double roots. Double epoxy is still the strongest glue there is.

  62. Seán Ó Cuinn

    The term "Plastic Paddy" makes me laugh! Watch Manchán Magan - No Béarla and you will see that the majority of Irish citizens are very ignorant when it comes to their heritage & language! I was born and raised in Scotland to Irish parents and I am proud to be Scottish just as I am proud of my Irish heritage! I believe that us so-called "Plastic Paddies" are more inclined to learn about our heritage with the exception of a few Celtic supporters who shout "Tiocfaidh ár lá" and think that makes them Irish! These kind of people truly are "Páidi Plaisteach" types!

    "Labhairt liom an teanga agus ní dhéanann tú! Mar sin, cé hé an Páidí Plaisteach?"

  63. Mark M Francis

    When I used to give lectures to people in Northern Ireland I always started off with " If I was born an American I would be Irish" My father gave me my grandmothers maiden name from the families move to the cotton mills of Lancashire and then to Liverpool in the 19th century. That always gave me an interest in Irish history and led me to go and work there many times until we we lived in Belfast for many years. It also gave me the reasons to think of what it means to have the ex-pat identity over the generations. Once an American was telling me how Irish he was and went down his family tree. It was the same distance but he called himself Irish and I did not.

  64. Matt L

    Very interesting article. I find these perspectives very interesting since many of us discover very interesting things about our heritage and it really makes you question even the concept of nationality.

    For me I'm an American, very American in fact, the most recent immigrant ancestors were from Germany in the mid 1800s and every other immigrant ancestor I've found dates to the 1700s and earlier.

    I had always thought "English" would be the most common ancestry and my paper trail sort of supported that. In my most recent DNA results I came 97% European (1% African, which was it's own different surprise, and 2% West Asian).

    Of that European DNA it most matched me with people of a long heritage in Ireland... it estimates me at about 25% Irish (comparing to roughly 18% British and 19% German).

    This made me re-look at my paper trail and I do in fact quite a few Irish immigrants (all from the 1700s, though I have hit some brick walls though might have some surprise ones from the 1800s when most came to America)...

    I'm obviously first and foremost American, considering the amount of generations before me have been here, but I don't feel a strong identity from it, since American is just a hodge-podge of other cultures... So a part of me seeks a greater and older heritage I can identify with, not to replace it but to extend the story of my heritage.

    If my DNA is right (and my genealogy) then that biggest heritage might in fact be Irish, of course with a strong ancestry from England too...

    This brings me to a similar question (even if very different circumstances) as you... Am I English or Irish?

    For me it's not the second generation question but more like the 5th or 6th generation question.

    If it's purely a matter of generations back then my Irish immigrants are more recent than my British... If it's a matter of DNA and "blood" then Irish might win out (though some Irish DNA can be British too)... who knows, in any case I want to learn about both cultures since they are both a part of me.

  65. ed hagan

    I guess the accent and the shared experiences of living and being brought up in Ireland are the keys to being ``irish``. That communal feeling. We all crave an identity and I can appreciate the author's dilemma. I was brought up in Ireland and Ireland is my touchstone. The author probably has much more in common with London so probably is essentially English, as are people like, say, Morrissey and Paul McCartney, despite having strong Irish roots.Think of Asians. After a generation they are usually proudly proclaiming themselves English. In the whole scheme of things it's interesting to study lineages etc but doesn't count for a whole hill of beans.

    • Dan

      Well that just shows your complete lack of understanding which is actually the root of the dislike of foreign born Irish people.

  66. Colin

    I can understand why people would rather say the're Irish rather than British. ádh mór do gach duine.

  67. theresa

    When challenged on my plastic and proud status I would always mention John Lydon, George O'Dowd, Elvis Costello, Morrissey, etc. - though actually I had very little problem with it while the second generation were young; I feel the identity loss more now we are barely visible, at least in London.

    Nice article which brought back many memories of the annual trek from south London to the west of Ireland via the St Columba. I remember thinking the "real" Irish kids were terrifyingly competent, controlling herds of animals while riding adult bikes! Once people knew who we "belonged to", everything was usually fine.

    • M. Wallace

      Don't forget the Pogues are all Anglo Irish who hail from Camden. They even gave a passport to Bruce Springsteen? (LoL) & claim Muhammad Ali as their own? as his great, great, great grandfather from Ennis? Simon Geoghan one of Irelands greatest rugby wings? Anglo Irish. I do like to mention this when it comes to the plastic conversation. it usually tends get under people's skin.

  68. j nevin

    great article. Spent my summers in mayo. My dad is from Clare and mother from Mayo and this article could have been about me!

  69. Caron B

    Hi all, I thinks it's the human condition to want to identify and belong. My story is slightly different on as much as I was born in London, Hammersmith. Lived Ealing, Mum's side of the family all Irish from Cork and Dad's all English originating from Devon and Bristol. I had a very happy time in England but when I was 8 we moved to Cork minus my dad.I was just me - I was english, never had any hassle probaly went over my head anyway but also had a large Cork family so just got on with it. BUT i always felt different, not because I wanted to fit in and be Irish but because I felt English and missed home. I am 53 now and in away the debate rages on. I have lived here since 1969 married, have 3 sons and yet part of me will always feel incomplete. Don't get me wrong I love Ireland, probably couldn't live anywhere else no matter what I think but when I go to England which is rarely something clicks and it just feels right, it does feel like home. which brings me back to my first point - we need to belong - we need to nail our colours to the mast but I have come to the conclusion now if I'm asked do I consider myself Irish or English, the answer truthfully is neither and both because at the end if the day we are sum of all our parts:-)

  70. Jason Roache

    I'm afraid, to be English is to be German ...

    English is a Germanic Language forced upon you by the German Royal family.

    So anyone who is proud to be "English" is in fact proud to be German ...

    I daren't go any further

  71. Lee Avery

    Irish and English are cultures and not really races as they both share the same heritage contrary to what both have been taught in order to keep them fighting with each other by ruling classes many moons ago. The myths have stuck. We are all Britons. The German races made an impact on the British gene pool amounting to between 5 & 15% ! It's a myth that the Celts were pushed west by invaders as Celts never existed on our isles. It was a misinterpretation of a spelling hundreds of years ago that led the myth. We have all been lied to for hundreds of years. I have Irish and English heritage, my wife Wesh and Scots and my daughter all four as with most people on these isles. We're all Britons. The current "Irish" wiped out the original settlers thousands of years ago.

  72. Kate Cruise

    Thanks for writing about this subject, it's something I've felt unhappy about my whole life so it's good to hear about people in the same situation. My mother is Irish, and my father's grandfather came over from the West of Ireland so genetically I am about 75% Irish, with dark hair, white skin and green eyes. I was born in the north of England, and was brought up culturally English, but was always happy to be a mixture of the two cultures. However, I noticed on our yearly summer trips to visit family in Ireland a strong anti-English sentiment from my cousins and their friends. It got worse as I got older. I knew about Ireland's and England's past so I could understand the basis of it, but what baffled me was how I was rejected by the Irish rather than embraced, despite being ethnically Irish myself and having no problem with Ireland or the Irish.

    I find it very sad because I'd love to visit Ireland on holiday but I find this anti-English sentiment so unpleasant every time I am there. The last time I visited I overheard some locals saying that everyone from my particular city was an alcoholic behind our backs, whilst being nice as pie to our faces. The hatred towards us was palpable. I hope that Ireland can overcome this hatred towards the Irish diaspora, I'm not sure how many other countries reject their own blood simply because they were born in a different country.

  73. seamus

    moved to Galway from London when 8yrs old ,both parents Irish ,thought i was Irish until i got attacked every day in school for being a 'brit',some of the teachers were as bad as the knackers. I learned to fight as otherwise dont know what i would have done. Found a large percentage of irish are racist bullies and many more so brainwashed by republican myths that they wouldnt defend victims.

  74. Nick

    Great Article,Ive struggled with this my whole life.I was brought up in Manchester & went to a catholic boys school where everyone was Irish or Irish decent,my dad & uncle started the local pipe band & my grandad was chairman of the Manchester Irish society and it never occurred to me that we wernt in Ireland until i was 8 or 9,we spent our summers back home in Carlow or Roscommom & being Irish was such a part of me i was proud of,having a HUGE family which are really close was something i was thankful to have.I only heard some of the plastic paddy stuff when i was at a friends funeral in Galway & it really shocked me like i had to justify who i was or what i believed & although i come from Fitzgerald,lonergan,Flood & Hussey stock i felt a strange resentment from other people who thought they had more right to be Irish.I now realize it was just young people trying to find there owen identity but realized then i may have been brought up in an exaggerated Irish environment because my parents missed home some much.For whatever reasons i definatley feel more Irish than english but am well aware of where i actually grew up,so im a bit of both.I went home to Carlow last week & it was so nice & comforting to hear all the neighbors down the lane say how long are you home for & we miss your Da.Whatever i am im glad ive been bought up the way i have with a very close family & a strong sense of identity although my girlfriend likes to remind me im english & i shouldnt forget that (she doesnt talk to any of her family & none of her siblings do...completely alien to me)But she loves how close we all are & loves coming home with me.I will forever be conflicted but glad i can go home to the house where at least 200 years of my family were born.....Even though ive got a manc accent!!!

  75. chris

    I have Irish grandparents and Scottish mother.I can really identify with the stories here.Moved here and applied for jobs and even tried to buy a house but was told all job vacancies were for Irish born.The house I tried to buy I find it goes 30,000 over the asking price (but actually did not)the list goes on.The Irish born people are bullies and do not like anyone that was not born/breed/lived here all their life.Sad,because I really wanted to be part of my ancestors culture,but was told I am English even although I am Scots/Irish. The term that the Irish/ are friendly/warm people-it`s a myth.

  76. Niall

    Why can't people understand the difference? It's pretty straightforward to me.

    Being Irish is mostly about being raised in your formative years in Ireland being surrounded by the culture and ways of the Irish.

    Even if both your parents are Irish and you're raised abroad you're missing a very important part of being Irish that born and bred Irish have. It doesn't matter if your parents raised you the way they were raised. You're in a different country and this has an affect on you.

    The reason people like myself get sometimes annoyed by second generation coming over and claiming to be Irish and knowing it all is because they don't know it all. They weren't raised in the country of Ireland.

    I'm all for encouraging people's interest in my country and would always call them friend and be glad to have them on my side but don't claim to be "as Irish" as us. How can you not see how this would be irritating?

    • Rose Rodriguez

      Yes, I do disagree and think it is very condescending attitude. My parents are both from Ireland but I grow up in NYC. I resented my Irish relatives constantly referring to me as the "Yank" in a demeaning manner. The thing is my husband who is a NY Puerto Rican doesn't get this attitude from his family in PR. He is considered PR. We live in California now where many Mexican Americans live. Believe me they could be 4th generation or even part Mexican and they never receive this snobby treatment from Mexicans. To quote my wonderful Irish nana from Leitrim whose parents spoke Irish "Get off your high horse."

  77. Pasquale Paoli

    My own two-penneth. I would suggest that there are two types of identity being discussed here. Cultural and genetic. My own experience is of a mixed genetic identity, but an Irish cultural one. I was born in Liverpool and raised for a while in Manchester. My father was born in Tunisia to a Maltese mother and a Corsican father. My mam was from Galway. I have lived in Ireland for the majority of my life and my cultural identity is inextricably linked to this country, whereas to look at me, you would instantly regard me as Mediterranean. My wife is from Mayo. My eldest son was born in America but raised here. Identity is a very complex issue. No-one would suggest that the Ó hAilpín brothers aren't Cork men even though born in Australia to a Fijian mother and a Northern father. Is it possible that so called "plastic paddies", whilst no doubt being genetically Irish, are derided by some because they are not au fait with modern Ireland and see the country through the eyes of their parents who were clinging to a 1950/60's version of the country that no longer exists.

  78. Ian

    I was born in Killburn in 1961 to irish parents lived in Ireland for a couple of years moved back to London moved to Australia when I was 7 moved back to Ireland at 14 every one at school in Ireland called me Rolf as in Harris . Went back to Australia got told all the irish jokes by the English kids at school who had migrated and all the Australian kids told me to piss off back to England . I have an irish passport an Aussie accent a English wife so were do I fit in ?

  79. joe bloggs

    Yes, some of you are truly Irish.You whinge and whine pick at scabs that you won't let heal. No one asked your Ancestors to go to England but they did, and found work no matter what is was and the wages they got fed people back home in Ireland or to raise there own families here. The Irish through the IRA declared war on Britain not the other way round, and while the murdering IRA were unleashing there bombs on the public the Irish here were still going about there business unaccosted. Think on this, if the Irish had,nt spoke English how would they have fared in other English speaking country's around the world during the so called famine?

    • Wexford Scouser

      Your ignorance of history is comical lad, England has stolen and plillaged from Ireland for centuries, also you seem to have airbrushed loyalist terrorism from your warped idea of history.
      The famine was very real mate as documented British history proves.
      All in all you've shown what a perfect example of an Irish hater you are.

  80. your man

    born in London to 'real' Irish parents spent every spare moment in Kerry where your family say welcome home.moved to Limerick for 2 years did my junior cert. that was an eye opener. never realised how English i was until i lived in Ireland.moved bak to London and was the paddy again. From that moment on i decided if any Irish person asks me im going to say im English. It keeps them happy, and you know what, a lot of them say 'but youre Irish' i say one of 2 things. Sorry im not good enough Soccer player, or whats so good about being Irish anyway?? All my siblings do the same, we are Irish passport holders because of our upbringing. I certainly dont get a lot of Englishisms and never really fitted in. i cannot think of another race of people that reject their immigrant brothers and sisters like the 'real' paddies do. I have learned that you dont need to justify your nationality to anybody. Keep your Irishness in your heart and know it without the need to convince the auld fella in the corner of the bar. Dont give them a reason to reject you.

    • Emma Phelan

      I was born in England to an English mother and an Irish father. I have lived my whole life in England but used go to Tramore, Waterford to see family, I saw my Irish grandparents, aunt and uncle regularly (they had moved to England). My Irish surname always raises the question "Are you Irish?"I see myself as both Irish and English, but am not accepted by either. English see me as Irish, Irish see me as English and I get called a mongrel or half-breed by both. While most English don't really have much of an issue with my Irish half (until it comes to someone bringing up history or the IRA)a lot of Irish tend to have a real issue, so much so I no longer go to Ireland. I took my first child to Waterford when she was five (her father is also half Irish), and she was so upset by the way people looked at us or comments they made as soon as we spoke, she just wanted to leave. I had wanted to show her Ireland and have her experience her Irish cultural heritage but sadly she never wanted to go back. I have two more children now and while they see their Irish grandfather regularly, I think the only time they will see Ireland is when my Dad dies and we take him home.

  81. Phil Brown

    Wisemans eh! Gunnersbury myself, although living in Southall had a lot of friends who went to Wisemans, I suspect that you might be a bit younger than me. I had a English dad and an Irish mum, part of the Irish diaspora in the mid 50's. I am very lucky to be both English and Irish and I don't feel the need to be one or the other. And when I go to Co Louth my Aunts and cousins say I'm home, which is lovely but not strictly true as home is London. I love Ireland, visit it regularly, hope it regains some element of prosperity.

  82. mike

    I was born in Belfast to a Scottish mother from Glasgow and an Irish (but with roots from Scotland and a Scottish surnamed) dad. The only bloodline link to proper irishness was when my English great grandfather married my Catholic Irish great grandmother from Belfast in secret. So I guess that makes me Ulster Scots, though the history that surrounds the term Im not too fond of. I haven't been brought up in the true Irish tradition either; ive never played gaelic sports, learnt Irish, supported the Republic football team or felt much of an affinity with my southern neighbours until recently. Yet having been around the globe, I have only ever been recognised as one thing- an Irishman. Despite everything that some have done to try to make the North not Irish, it always will be no matter what. I'm proud to have been born in Ireland, just as Im proud to have family in Scotland, but Im not Scottish! It's a funny thing really, when it comes down to it, what people see and hear on the outside seems to affect their opinion most. Yet most of the people commenting here have more Irish in them than I do, but struggle for recognition!

  83. hugh mckay

    it was a great artical and reminded me of my upbringing in glasgow.i remember my father coming home one day and my mum asking him what happened to the new job he had just started .my father replyed he had been sacked for having an ERIN GO BRAGH tattoo on his family had fled ireland through poverty about a hundred years previously and we where still being persecuted in scotland in the 1970s for being irish fenian catholic bastards by some scots ever though my dad was second and myself third generation irish from Sligo.Istill feel a pull from my irish roots like many in the west of scotland. I now have an erin go bragh tattoo and very proud of it.over a million people in scotland have irish roots and family still back in ireland and a great amount of us are very proud of my irish football team are CELTIC and we have supporters clubs all over ireland.the club was founded like hibernian to make money to feed the irish needy in both citys. im a third generation irishman and very proud of it,oh and im not scots/irish im irish/scots

  84. M. Wallace

    I was from the generation of children whose parents came to the UK looking for work just before the war years. Dad from Galway and Mum from Clare. He ended up fighting the whole of the war with 8th Army and D Day landings and was decorated. Mum was recruited from Ireland to train as a nurse because of the shortage. She was forever grateful for the opportunity. What hope for a woman living in rural Ireland and a young man in the sticks of the wild west of Galway under De Valera's Ireland? The media over the years has shown what that was like. Both myself and brothers grew up throughout the latter 50's, 60's, 70's in the UK. Spent our childhood going to see my wonderful grandparents for long summer holidays on the farm and buzzing about seeing relatives all over Clare and Galway. Like many people here. Did the whole RC education bit, taught by religious orders who were Irish, primary through to grammar. Weekends with my fellow Anglo Irish or English mates playing rugby on Saturdays and then mass on Sunday. I actually like the UK it has given me everything and my opportunities. Ireland gave me wonderful memories an understanding of where my parents came from, love of family, moral code, sense of fairness and a fighting spirit. I simply consider myself Anglo Irish, although when it comes to rugby or most things with England and Ireland? my size 11's tends to be with Ireland first and England the latter. I too do not like the term plastic. I don't do the ridiculous wearing of hurling shirts, Guinness hats, flags, Dropkick Murphy T shirts. At the ripe age of 54 I have considered applying for an Irish Passport, I don't know why? (I didn't even know I was already considered an Irish citizen?) and for some reason the eldest of my brood of children also want to apply? Why I don't know? apart from they thoroughly enjoy going over and have very happy childhood memories of holidays.

  85. Irishrose

    Here's my two cents, If you were born in Ireland no matter where you go in the world you are Irish you have every right to it. Also if your Grand Mother, Grand Father, Mother, Or Father was born in Ireland or anyone in your lineage for that matter, you are Irish its in your blood and its in your heart. Piss on everybody back home that says your "plastic" or "not real Irish" or that you're "second generation". If any ever come across an Irishman or Woman with the knobs to tell you what you are and aren't not only are they not self respecting Irish but they are tight aresed ninnies who ought to be thrown to the sea. I've been home to Erin a couple of times with no one to welcome me and I don't need anyone to because the Isle herself welcomes me. I hope you all who have been "disowned" so to speak feel the same.

  86. Tom Murphy

    Just came across this interesting article and thought Id respond as a 2nd generation (Dublin) Irish person living in Ireland for the last 20 years. PS Dublin beat Mayo today (Oh Happy days !) to play Kerry in the All Ireland, I am far far happier living in Ireland than I ever was living in the Uk, always felt like a fish out of water there, and have only been back to the UK a handful of times when I had too and being honest couldnt wait to return to Ireland because i find the two cultures poles apart especially humour and outlook. My experience has been different from most of the writers here who moved to Ireland, ie was in the large town where i live today and bumped into many sound friends and was asked to meet later etc. I find people here great if you dont try to ram how Irish you are down their throats and have been acccepted as myself ie as "sound" "straight cut" etc. I experienced more racism in the Uk than I have ever experienced here. I have never tried to put on an Irish accent but kept my natural uk/irish accent and you would be suprised how many pick up on a slight Dublin accent and ask me about it and then say your a Dub then (not always a compliment lol). I worked in construction from the age of 16 in the uk (no big suprise lol) and was told " i was a thick paddy etc" or if i made a mistake "what can you expect he's Irish" on a regular basis in the UK and remember two workers ringing my company to tell the boss "they werent taking orders from paddy bastard" when i was made foreman . I could give lots of other examples of being accused of being in the IRA or a "sleeper" if there was a terrorist atrocity in the newspaper, I was stopped many times in airports to be searched and filling in the prevention of terrorism act form on flights because of my families connection to sinn fein when i was young. I found when i first worked here i was known as the english Tom but after awhile just became Tom and once people realised i could hold my own i was told "i was one of their own" and got respect for being a a hard worker with a good head and " a tough skin". Ireland is like anywhere I have ever travelled too ie if im ok with people they are ok with me and vice versa. I have great genuine friends here better than i had in the UK, (I probably make more effort here and am on the same wavelength) who have got me jobs, bent over backwards for me after a bad break up etc to make sure i was ok (12 men i worked with drove 40 miles without letting me know and landed on my door step to drag me out for a night) . I have good job and a lovely home. I find people here have gone out of their way to help me if i needed it. One of my daughters recently worked in Australia and people made sure she had numbers and places to stay with irish friends so that i wouldnt worry about her. She now has more irish friends in Australia who all look after each other. For example i am in the process of moving house in 4 weeks 20 miles away and have had people ringing from both areas offering to help me move and wont take a cent for petrol etc. They helped me find the house of my dreams and steered me away from bad houses, Of course there are small minded idiots here but they are a small minority in my experience and if you give as as good as you get you will soon quiten them down. Its a tough country in many ways and its a not a place for the over-sensitive. On my 1st day in a chemical plant as a pipe welder i was met at the plant gate and a man from County Clare told me "Heres 2 pieces of advice Tom, no1 you are going to be 2 inches taller when you leave here than when ye came in" i said why? and he replied because you will be hung out to dry so many times by all the hanging bastards in here! 2nd advice "was to leave my feelings in the boot of my car and i would be fine and even thats to near so leave them at home". I followed that advice to the letter, took nothing personal and saw men from local areas who didnt and left the job, I quickly realised it was the same for everyone regardless of their accent. One man ignored me because of my accent and 2 men i hardly new cut the legs off him as "an ignorant bastard" and he never ignored me again. I thrived there and was invited to weddings, made solid friends who looked out for me etc and was respected for hanging in and holding tough.Of course there was slagging but everyone got that and I gave it back. I went back to college 10 years ago (UL) and now work in a medical centre and have got nothing but support, "fairplay" and encouragement for changing careers from pretty much everyone I used to work with in construction. Medical professionals accepted me and helped me build a thriving practice from nothing by giving the good word to people about me and the class barriers i had experienced in the uk as kid from a rough council estate didnt exist here. During the recession (which is pretty much over) business's stuck together ie my office landlord a GP halfed my rent without me asking to make sure i would be ok as the economy dive bombed. Yes it can be tough country with tough sharp people who are not fools or naive but as you know its been shaped by a difficult history and poverty thats not to far back, but if you can laugh, work hard and be genuine its in my experience one the best of most beautiful countries in the world to live in (and i have travelled to many countries but there is no better feeling than landing back in Ireland and when i was in OZ NZ etc it was the 1st time I experienced being homesick). I was recently invited to a wedding by a good friend in Kerry, the wedding was in portugal and a 140 attended fora week "of celebrations"!Everyone was respectful and friendly but partied hard : ) . We spent 90% of the time in Irish bars so dont know why the wedding was in Portugal but could have been the sunshile lol. The bride had a few english relatives at the wedding and one man mimicked one of the uk peoples accent ie"alwight darling" and 3 men gave out straight the way to the person and he was told he" was a f""" prick and to have respect for her relatives" and he quickly pulled his head sheepishly in and apologised to the woman. I hope that recent example lets people know that most people in Ireland are decent and not racist. I think from my own experience of being born in uk that you can become over sentised to stupid comments about your accent and take it to heart as it means so much to be seen as Irish but strangely enough when you let go of that and just be your self you are accepted and just get on with life. Alot of people i know who moved from Dublin say to Galway or Cork to Kerry have find it hard to fit or be accepted but usually hang in and eventually settle but not all, so its not just about people from other countries or cultures, its basically in the DNA its about how you deal with it that counts. Hope my experience shines a light on the experience of a 2nd generation person happily living in Ireland

  87. Saki Brazil

    Would people stop saying the word Famine............because there was no was mass that dark time in Ireland's history the country produced more crops than at any time in her stop this cover up bullshit

  88. Hogan

    I used to care about it but no longer.

    I was born in Coventry and both my parents are from the West of Ireland, went to an Irish catholic school, Irish church, Ireland every summer, the whole story.

    My dad used to try to indoctrinate me into supporting Ireland while calling me a little limey. Add a weekly dose of catholicism and it's associated guilt into the mix and you've got yourself a nice little mind-f**k right there :)

    In truth, I don't think I'm very tribal by nature. I was as a youngster baffled and irritated by my dad's passion in wanting England to lose all the time even if they weren't playing Ireland - given that we had chosen to live here. I wanted Ireland to win, I wanted England to win. If they played each other I'd have a mild existential crisis, but ultimately wasn't too bothered one way or the other.

    As a teen and in my twenties I was still very proud of my Irish roots, had the passport etc. But yes, over the years have had many of the "too English" criticisms from the GAA shirt wearing faux-brogue hardcore-plastics here in England, ( I like cricket = verboten) and a good few of the "you're simply not Irish" (full stop) conversations with "real" Irish people on my travels around the world and in Ireland.

    One guy in a hostel in Poland when he clocked my passport at reception said "Why have you got that, you're not Irish?" Not that id asked him. :0) - Given that I'd had similar comments before I already had my witty response ready "Well it's not to impress you mate!" The "mate" was deliberate as I thought it sounded unapologetically English accented.

    So that was that, and although I pretended to brush him off like a spec of dust - in truth I wanted to give him a punch right in the chops and it did leave me fizzing. I mean what makes somebody think its OK to say something like that with no other context? Particularly in hostel, a place to meet and mix with people - After all if I saw an Indian accented guy in England with a British passport and offered "Why have you got that? you're not British?" - well... I think we have a word for that :)

    So, a little older and a little wiser, I realised several things -

    1. The "how Irish are you" "What, only one of your parents is Irish?" "Both mine are " etc conversations are utterly stupid.

    2. That being a t*sser is not an exclusively English pastime despite what I had been taught

    3. Trying to please both camps is impossible - some people LIKE to exclude you. Once you figure this key part of the jigsaw out, you're on your way to inner peace :)

    4. Currying favour with random people simply based on their accent in order to gain their abstract approval is when you think about it, bizarre, futile and a little embarrassing.

    5. In truth I am neither English nor Irish but occupying a space in-between, a space complete with it's own unique set of experiences that neither an English person or an Irish person really understands. I'm proudly neither - I am now entirely comfortable with liking Cricket, English pubs, The Wolfe Tones, Irish Rugby, English Rugby, Irish football etc and a whole host of supposed contradictions - and if that causes cognitive dissonance among certain people then i quite frankly couldn't give a sh*t. Instead of feeling inexplicably guilty about both things, I now enjoy both things. Its the way forward,

    6. There's more to me, and to you, and to life, than choosing to outsource the bulk of ones identity to the concepts of "Ireland" and "Irishness" or indeed "England" and "Englishness".

    7. I am still very (very) proud of my Irish roots, but in my own way, I don't feel the need to broadcast it, and that doesn't make me less so.

    Anyway, I'd better get back to work.

    Peace to all my half-breed brothers and our fully Irish and English cousins. :)

    • Matt Ruane

      Well said mate, best way of looking at things that anybody can imagine.

      The contention others feel about us being able to claim that we are closer to them than they'd like to admit is sad, and it doesn't make for a positive image for them as a group.

      I am the Grandson of two Galwegian immigrants to England post-partition of Ireland on my dad's side, and my mum's side is half Scottish with more Welsh than anything else on her own mothers side.

      Also, I was born in Winchester, Hampshire, which is the very birth place of modern England, and have an Estuary English accent (the halfway mark between Cockney and Standard English), so I have the best blend of all our countries in my eyes, and am proud to claim as such.

      I can therefore call myself any of the above, though typically I just call myself a Wintonian Irishman. My identity is unique to me, and it doesn't cause harm to anyone else. So no-one should feel threatened at all.

  89. James

    I am Irish born in Cork City to Cork parents. My family moved to the UK when I was a young child. Growing up in the UK in the eighties was tough with the troubles etc. I suffered the usual abuse from people so I never really felt British. I did and still have great British friends but I did feel different. I moved back to Ireland with my wife (who is British) and children 15 years ago. We moved to County Cork and found the majority of people ignorant and not very nice, my wife was ignored and my children excluded on account of being "prods" (we are not religious at all). It really was an eye opener to experience real predudice. It was a truly awful place. ( has to be said Cork city was different both my wife and I worked there and people were lovely). We have since moved to the east of the country and the difference has been massive. People accept me as Irish and my family has got on great. The reality is that most people make the logical asumption that if you have an British accent then your British and that's okay. But predudice and racism are inexcusable. Identity is a personal thing, I have children who feel just Irish and children who feel British and children who feel they are both. ( we have a fair few children) I have always felt Irish and always will. What ignorant knuckle dragging morons from County Cork think is irelevant.

  90. Niambh Bernstein

    If you are born of parents who are of a particular culture and race, regardless of which country you were born in, then you have a natural heritage to the culture of your ancestors. The culture you adopt from your birth country is often a veneer, acquired for convenience, but it obviously does become part of your identity - but never the whole story.

    I have to say, speaking from experience - and coming from a rather mixed heritage myself, the native Irish are the only race I know who make such a big deal of these issues, and seems to insist that those of Irish descent born in other countries are somehow inferior to the native born Irish. Any other country welcomes its "exiles" with open arms.

    I wonder when it's going to change - it wouldn't be before time !!

  91. Pablo

    Born in Liverpool to an Irish mum and a Spanish dad. I class myself as English. Neither my mum or dad suffered discrimination in England,the same can not be said when I visited Ireland.

    • Niambh Bernstein

      Hi Pablo

      I bet if you visited any relatives in Spain you wouldn't have that problem.

  92. Mike Byrne

    My dad is from Dublin but as he never forced Irish traditions on us I feel English not Irish as my mom is English and English traditions dominated. it depends what the household culture is. If both parents are English or both Irish it is a different feeling of coarse. i would say dna made much difference genetically most people in Britain and Ireland come from ancient pre Celtic Viking Saxon and Norman dna anyway and most simply adopted local culture anyway so you cannot go much on surnames. But yes there are people in both places with names that origibated elsewhere Walsh is just one example but on a cultural level you cannot tell. Some parts of Ireland which drink the most were actually British ruled and im sure there are traits in Britain from Ireland. But in reality most genetically are the same. I grew up West Midlands not far from Birmingham but to say there is no English culture is ignorant it tends to be quieter and get less coverage than other cultures. Culture is much more complex than folk singing or dancing. The English have folk music it just its never seen. Culture is also a variation in temperment, dos and donts humour etc so it can be subtle i wouldnt say the food differs. the irish might be passionate a bit more and english more reserved but it is a generalisation. yes there is slight cultural historical etc differences but then i think anyone with some red hair can be passionate regardless of identity. lol I think a lot of things are class based rather than culturally based.

  93. Mike Byrne

    visions so its seen as one level of people. But also there has been people in England sneering at folk traditions for a while now they tend to value other cultures more than their own and people who celebrate have been portrayed negatively. In ireland this doesnt tend to happen although I have read recently it has been happening. i think a lot is class based and ideologically based. Irish culture has been made very visible people feel comfortable with it even folk with no connections to Ireland celebrate St Patricks Day. on a personal level this peoples feelings will be different so i tend to ignore hype and go for true feelings i feel culturally English and respect my English ancestors but fully respect my irish ancestors too in that respect its not either or. But family is family regardless of where their from.

  94. Seamus O'Leary

    In this world, people of European descent need to stick together. We are a dwindling proportion of the world's population. It shouldn't matter if we are Irish, English, German or Polish, we should be united for a common cause. The common interest of European survival in an increasingly vicious world where many would like to see us as a race destroyed. It is fine to be proud of one's culture and history, but not at the expense of European unity. There should be no hard feelings against the English for things that happened 100, 200 and 300 years ago. All those people are dead and buried! What matters is now and our future as a people.

  95. Terry Washington

    As the late Duke of Wellington(himself an Anglo-Irishman) once pithily put it- "just because you are born in a stable , it doesn't mean that you're a horse!"

  96. Michele Muireasgha

    What people do not always realise is its hard to be part of a family, where the parents are from another country, bring you up to think of it as home and teach you the history so you know it better than the history of the country you were born in and live in.. You go 'home' on holiday each year to visit the relatives, and you think of yourself as both Irish and English. when they talk about 'over' they mean back over in England. When you go 'home ' as an adult you realise and are reminded you are English England there are times when you are reminded you are Irish and ultimately you have no true 'home' except where your parent's live...until you make your own 'home' but then there is always the confusion deep in your soul..are you Irish? Are you English or just a bloody homeless mongrel? I see myself as a Celt..with a rich history from my ancestors but why is there always a tiny part of your soul..that wants to go home... to Ireland... is it because your parents desperately did as they never wanted to Go to England in the first place and that feeling seeped into you or is it because we all feel more at HOME there than anywhere else?

  97. Marina Rich

    Your culture is from where you were born and raised not where your parents come from. My granddad's parents moved to Waterford with the British Army who were in occupation and the time and my granddad and his sisters were born in Ireland therefore Irish not English. Patrick Pearce's father was from Birmingham but that didn't make Patrick Pearce English. After hundreds of years of English invasion into Ireland resulting in mass slaughter of native Irish and banishment to Barbados most Irish born people are descended from the invaders but that doesn't make them English. Now you know why we refer to people born in England and America who call themselves Irish just because their forefathers emigrated there "plastic paddies".

  98. bub

    I was born in Manchester to Irish Parents and was raised in England but my abiding and most cherished memories from my childhood are of those endless summers spent in the West of Ireland on my families farm, it really was the whole picture postcard thing, the thatched cottage, cutting the turf with my Grandfather, god how i cherish those memories, and i know almost all of my friends shared very similar upbringings but i have to say that i have stopped self-identifying as being of Irish origins,

    Somewhere around the 90's i started hearing this term "Plastic Paddy", being applied to second generation people like myself and Friends of the same background, somehow we had become objects deserving of sneering derision from all those "Real" Irish people, at first i couldn't understand it, and i guess it was a little hurtful, you've spent your whole life identifying with this heritage and all of a sudden its like your being told , well no, you don't really belong with us, your not the real article.

    i decided somewhere along the line that i don't need nor want to spend my life justifying who i'am or my credentials to claim my "Irishness", who needs that? i now live in North America and always identify when asked as being English, isn't it ironic that it is England that has been a far more welcoming & accepting home to the decedent Sons & Daughters of Ireland than Ireland itself?

  99. Michael McDevitt

    I was born in Scotland to both half Irish parents. My dads parents where both born in Donegal and emigrated to Glasgow and my mums parents from Tyrone in Northen Ireland. As a irish Catholic in Scotland there is a lot of sectarianism which has always made me prouder of my Irish Roots.


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