What does it mean to be Irish these days?

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.

For what died the sons of Roisin?

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?

Sober Paddy interviewing Aslan singer Christy Dignam

Letter to Roy Keane







14 thoughts on “What does it mean to be Irish these days?”

  1. I enjoyed reading this. Since moving to London from Dublin (where I’m born and bred) I feel like I’m representing our country and all my people. Amongst the English people, who I have found to be quite ignorant of what has gone on throughout history, I find myself crying out of the horror that has gone on and what it has done to the people, the sour taste it left in many an Irish mouth. I think our singing once came from a place of pain. We sang out when songs where what we had. I think a lot of people have forgotten what a rebellious nation we are, I think people have forgotten about the incredible figures who went before us and fought for the Irish people. I think nowadays a lot of people are afraid, they want an easy life. They have been seduced by materialism and shinier flashy lifestyles. It is time for our people to fight once again for Ireland. We need leaders. Leaders like Sober Paddy to rally up the troops, to show the folk what needs to be done. We need a voice. A voice of Ireland ( not the shitty reality based ‘X factor’ style singing competition) We need a voice to lead the 40,000 supporters who will sing for more than football once they know why they are singing.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Ava…you hit the nail on the head. We need to remember how great we can be and not just accept the easy way out. As a group of people we have been seduced – very true. WHo knows how long it will take for us to get our voice back – but all it takes is one. All it takes is one person to stand up and others will follow. Sober Paddy will do all he can in his own way to encourage the rest of us to do what we havce to do. Now, an Irish persons voice in London would be worthy of a weekly reading too – maybe its time to get more voices out there…

  2. Your piece brought tears to the ancient gaelic warrior that is within me, and must be in so many Irish. Your words speak to the the blood in my veins that links me back to the past..So many of us had family who fought against occupation and oppression. And where has that fight gone to.. Instead of against corporations and selfish government, our criminals keep killing each other, our unemployed stay downtrodden and struggling, and our people are blinded by the mess of everything and so turn away from it all. I think the fight is too great, and it is without a leader. Politicians have fooled us repeatedly and we are left care less about our plight..for what can we really do, without someone strong, instrumental, passionate and great, to guide, lead and advocate for us all. As u rightly said, we here are tired of hearing about it all. the cuts continue (last week another 5% of special needs teachers will be gone in september, on top of 10% gone last year. this brought tears to my eyes and anger to my throat) How dare they do this, but they do. and nobody is stopping anybody. Ireland went and got modern. The celtic tiger lured us away from a time when I think that we were more loyal to our history, our lineage and our irishness. Youngsters now, dont now much about Irishness. They know about topshop and mobile phones and facebook and bacardi breezers. My generation are sick of what has happened and what is happening but we muddle on through signing on at the dole office, trawling websites for jobs, or working in jobs that are not what we were sent to Earth for. The older generation. well, half of them are so ignorant its scarey, the other half struggle or just focus on one day to the next.. The solution as Ava said is a voice. A leader. A Martin luther king to shake us and wake the roars within us that we can so easily chant at football games in poland with 40000 kinsmen. Our football team stirs our pride. It ignites that ferocious passion we have for what is a representative of our great country. We are proud to be Irish because we fought hundreds of years to maintain our selves and our land. If only our politicians could stir within themselves the memories of their forefathers. Ireland has indeed changed forever and it will never again be what it was. Money and power have corrupted minds and the people have been fooled by many different lies and tales and promises. So many dont care anymore..people just want to be able to pay the bills and get by ok. The fight for Independence doesnt even exist to most. We have tried weakly and failed to fight the impossible fight. To win the impossible fight we need a hero. A super-hero. Wherever they are, they need to come out of hiding and bang bodhrans to the beats of our hearts, so loudly that we listen and hear and reawaken and rise up and live again as proud strong Irish.

  3. I am sorry they are cutting money to such needy and just services. This is the modern world we have bought into, where financial corporations make decisions which place profit above people. They place power and economic wealth above a prosperous and developing culture. The ideal and vision we have as a conscious group is nowhere near what I imagined the future to be. Our collective imagination must arise and understand that there is better available. It is not all quick fix. It is not all ease and happiness. It is not all to be handed to a person on a platter and dished out fair and evenly. To get the equality we desire we have to fight for it. We have to stand up and fight. Ghandi said to be the changes you want to see. Well, now is the time for people to fight for the changes we want to see. Our leaders are part of the power structure who will not change for the good of the people. They are part of the structure that sees a countries success as that which can be measured by GDP and/or obeying international dictums which come from banks and financial institutions. There has no be chagne in the leaders, but also from how we accept the standards that are dished out to us.

    Maybe Roy could have had a go at the people of Ireland for accepting such bullshit from the top down for so long. He would have had a point then.

    Roll on the leaders. Bring on the stage for someone to help us from our mire.

    There is hope for sure, but we all must hope together

  4. Man, you are dead on.
    It’s not only in Ireland where this is happening. I live in the US, the recession is bad here as well, the government bails out the largest banks around and whom keeps these politicians in office that approved the bailouts? The banks! I don’t think it matters anymore what country you live in, all politicians are evil, rich and most have never worked an honest day in their sorry assed lives.

    I try and not think about it, if one dwells on the evil of these people it would make one want to drink and drink a lot.

    Peace to you Paddy,

    • Glen it truly is a corrupt world. I suppose all you can do is the best you can and try to change things one piece at a time. It has driven many’s the good man to drink and drugs and there is no quick solution. There is probably not even a slow solution! I met this foundation today and the people have set up a hotel and all the profit goes to helping poor people in the area. They take a salary and off hte go. Now why can’t banks do that?
      One answer and that is greed. Pure and simple.

      But if we tolerate it, then aren’t we almost as bad. If we let them get away with it aren’t we a herd of gullible sheep? Not sure what the solution is, but I’m looking for it!!

      Peace out my friend

  5. Once we ruled Ireland AS a Nation. Now we leave the right to rule to incomompatant money grabbing b*****ds, the Big Man must be rolling over in his coffin as i type this


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