What does it mean to be Irish these days?
I was talking with my wife about the response to my letter to Roy Keane. She was overcome with the passion which people show about the subject of Irish support. I have to admit I knew how we feel about our green culture – we are very proud and very staunch about who and what we are.
She asked me why was it then, that there was not more outcry from such passionate people against the government and the banks? Why had the occupy Dame St movement turned pretty quickly from something meaningful into a gang of students, a straggle of hippies, a couple of socialists, one or two drunks and a group of homeless people who were glad of the company.
Where were the mass protests she asked me? Where were the marches and riots and rebels who championed the cases of the poor and defenceless?
Where were the 40,000 all chanting, all singing supporters of Irish pride? Do they only come out in a nice controlled sporting environment?
It is different I told her.
The common paddy is sick to death of ze recession.
Mary Boyle is sick to her teeth of listening to another bailout story or how inept politicians sell us out again and again.
We dump Fianna Fail only to end up with a worse shower of half wits who we didn’t want in power in the first place!
People are tired of it all. They just want it to go away. I know I did before I emigrated. She told me it sounded like I was making excuses for everyone.
And maybe I was.
So what happens next? Does any of it really make a difference to who we are as Irish?
I get a lot of emails from Irish born in different countries. They follow a familiar pattern – they drink themselves into oblivion, thinking that this is what it means to be Irish. They look for that spark, that wild side in the bottom of a pint glass and they often spend the rest of their lives never truly knowing about what their roots actually mean.
That meaning was in full voice on Thursday just gone.
The rendition of Fields of Athenry against the Spanish started with one person singing first. Then more joined in. Before long we had one of the most powerful cacophonies of noise heard by Irish ears in a long time. This is what it means to be Irish.
Everything starts with one person taking the first step.
As a country Ireland does not need to be part of the European Currency Union. It does not need to be told what to do by the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB is a private corporation in case anyone confuses it because of its name. No elected peoples here.
Our leaders need to stand up and be counted. But we the people need to stand up and support the government. And if they don’t do what we want, their heads roll. We need to put people in power who will look after the pensioners, the sick, the poor and the children. Because right now our pensions funds, our money for hospitals and our ability to build our own country is being taken from us to pay back financial investors.
We can stand on our own two feet as a country. We can print our own money from nothing. We have very smart economists who know how these things can be done.
I would love to see the passion we have for football be used to turn Ireland around again. We are small fry, no doubt about it. Everyone seems to be saying that these days. But we can be the tastiest small fry on the planet. Fuck me our pudding is sensational and you will never get better than a Superquinn sausage. Brennan’s batch is mouth-watering bread and Irish chickens lay the some of the best eggs around. And don’t get me started on the butter…
What does it mean to be Irish for you?
Is it enough to enjoy the sport and sing our songs in a nice controlled environment? Is it enough to tell stories and fight if we have to and dance with giggling girls? Is it enough to speak a cupla focail Gaeilge and drink Barry’s green label tea? Is it enough to slurp the hard stuff and walk through stoney grey fields? Is it enough to swing a hurley at some gobshite from the next parish of a Sunday morning with the sideways rain pelting in under the icicles of your helmet? Is it enough to buy a Munster jersey or extend the credit union loan and get to watch a few matches in the Euros?
Or is there more to it?
Is there a history of rebellious thought, argument and leadership which we are forgetting? Micheal Collins, the 1916 leaders and the Gaels that died before. They were not conformists. They did not accept foreign rule. They would not accede to European rule or English rule.
Is there a rebel spirit within that needs to be voiced?
Is there something more that can be done to pull the authorities of this country to account?
Does our tribe need to rise up and show it’s strength once again?
Is there a bigger fight we need to fight?
Want to see more?