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A Different View

Is it where you’re born that makes you Irish?

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A Different View with Dave O’Connell

The Arsenal midfielder Jack Wiltshire may not be internationally recognised as one of life’s great philosophers, but his recent insistence that only English-born footballers should be entitled to play for England did prompt a slightly different question closer to home – do you have to be Irish to be Irish?

In simple terms, are Irish people only those born in Ireland or are they also the 50 million or more worldwide who make up what we know as the Irish Diaspora – or are they also those who choose to make their home and their lives here?

We’re happy to claim the sons and daughters of emigrants when it comes to events like the Gathering or the Global Irish Economic Forum, and rightly so; they consider themselves Irish and they were brought up with their Irish heritage, so who are we to take that away from them?

We’re not quite as unanimous when it comes to conferring Irishness on those who come to live here. Our own forefathers may have been the prototype of the economic migrant, but we’re slow to return the favour.

So what makes you Irish then? Birth, for sure – if you’re born here, you’re Irish by birth. And that includes the children born to refugees or asylum seekers or migrants from any part of the planet.

The simple truth is that, if you go back far enough, very few of us were Irish. For a start, you can forget those with Viking or Norman heritage – and the planters may have been bequeathed the land, but they cannot claim the roots.

St Patrick was a Welsh man, Dev was either Spanish or American and half our international soccer team wouldn’t have been able to find the place on a map prior to their call-up.

And yet these Plastic Paddies played key, if different, roles in our history. One rid the country of snakes – although the party founded by Dev produced a few of them over the subsequent decades – and the Anglo lads, led by Big Jack the Geordie, became the quintessential Boys in Green, after a Scotsman in an Irish shirt but the ball in the back of the English net.

If we were to take a narrow definition of the Irish, wouldn’t half of Galway and Connemara lose out with that colouring that owes everything to the Spanish Armada?

Are those who descended from the hundreds of thousands who left on coffin ships during Famine times any less Irish that those who stayed?

Haven’t we just spent a year selling this notion of Irishness to the world, inviting them all home for a Gathering so that they could find their roots?

Would we deny the right to Irishness to those yet to be born – in Sydney or Boston or Toronto – whose parents still haven’t met each other but who have all been forced out of their homeland by the greed of some and the criminal indifference of those we elected to watch them?

Albert Reynolds had his own take on what it took to be Irish during his time in office – it took around one million old Irish pounds stuck into an Irish bank account and then you could get yourself a legitimate Irish passport.

So Tony Cascarino wasn’t the first non-Irishman to get an Irish passport – only he at least lifted our spirits the odd time on the pitch we should still call Lansdowne Road.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

 

Connacht Tribune

Grandparents may well be the greatest gift of all

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

My mother-in-law is the greatest grandmother on earth, although she’s the only one who doesn’t know it. Not because she’s modest – although she always was – but because she has dementia and struggles to know her own family, never mind their children.

Yet she was there, every step of the way – not just for our two, but for every single one of her 19 grandchildren; minding them, nurturing, entertaining, caring for them, for well over three decades from oldest to youngest.

Kay wasn’t alone for the most of that journey, because Tom in turn was the best grandfather – doing all of those things too, and also instilling a love of simple things into another generation . . . birds, flowers, cats, songs about townlands.

He also embraced things unfamiliar to his world – Thomas the Tank Engine, the Teletubbies, even PlayStation although that remained largely a mystery, as did the fact that anyone would watch soccer when there was a chance to enjoy hurling.

“You’ve been watching this for hours and there isn’t even one score. If this was hurling, you’d have seen 50 of them,” he’d tell the Liverpool fans, enthralled by another scoreless classic.

The beauty of it was that the Kay and Tom got to meet, enjoy and educate every single one of those 17 grandchildren, and there will be no more – because even science can’t produce surprises like that at this stage.

They also got to know a few of their great-grandchildren, although dementia for one of them, followed too quickly by death for the other, didn’t really allow them to pass on the great gifts they had already imbued in their grandchildren.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

No great rush to mend the error of your ways!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was St Augustine who famously petitioned in prayer: ‘God, make me good – but just not yet’. It’s a sentiment that one Sister Mary Joseph took to whole new levels, because after spending her first 61 years as a high-living heiress, she spent the last three decades as a cloistered nun.

And she closed one chapter to open another one back in 1989 with a party for 800 of her closest friends at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco – so many guests that the hostess carried a helium balloon all night, with the words “Here I Am” so that people could find her amid the throng.

The next day the former Ann Russell Miller flew to Chicago and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a novitiate, spending the rest of her life as Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity.

Or as one of her 28 grandchildren put it: “It was like The Great Gatsby turned into The Sound of Music.”

Her recent obituary in the Times painted quite the colourful picture of a lover of the high life turned Holy Roller.

“She smoked, drank champagne, played cards, spent five hours a day on the telephone and, as an expert scuba diver and enthusiastic skier, travelled around the world.

“She had a season ticket to the opera, was a high-society patron of many charitable causes and drove her sports car at such reckless speeds that, according to her son Mark, ‘people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on an imaginary brake’.”

Because if ever a life could be described as a tale of two-thirds of high living and one-third of contemplation, this was it; the mother of ten who enjoyed the casual company of celebrity friends like Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope opted for an order which allowed her one visitor a month – and even then no touching given the two rows of iron bars between them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

Online games will always give way to world of pure imagination

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When we were young and Wimbledon came on the telly for two weeks, we’d all rush out to hit a tennis ball off the wall and imagine for an hour that we were Jimmy Connors or Bjorn Borg.

On the odd occasion when we saw live football on TV – the World Cup, the FA Cup Final, or Jimmy Magee covering another false dawn for Ireland at Dalymount Park – we took to the footpath and pretended we were Johnny Giles or Georgie Best.

Jumpers for goalposts, games that went on for hours, fly-goalkeepers, next goal wins – a world of entertainment for the price of a plastic football.

Now when it’s half-time in Sky Sports’ fifth live match of the weekend, the kids still want to play their own version when it’s over. Except they do it on the PlayStation so they never have to leave the comfort of the couch.

Even if we re-enacted the World Cup indoors back in the day, we did it with Subbuteo – so we still got more action and exercise than today’s kids, even if it was just a flick of the fingers.

But in the absence of video games, we did all this with nothing more than our vivid imaginations on a field of dreams that was otherwise a concrete car park or a patch of grass.

We pretended we were Mick O’Connell or maybe Mikey Sheehy (but never Brian Mullins or Jimmy Keaveney) as we fielded balls majestically out of the clouds – even if reality would suggest we hardly left the ground.

It was a world of our imagination where we supplied our own running commentary; these days, FIFA 21 does it for you.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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