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A Different View

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

Dave O'Connell

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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 are the glue that became unstuck during Covid

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

IT goes without saying that lockdown has been hard for everyone – with the possible exception of hermits – but few have felt it more than grandparents, confined to barracks and deprived of those hugs from the grandchildren.

Looking at them through windows may only have made it worse, because little kids don’t understand why nana and granddad won’t come out; they don’t realise they want to, more than anything in the whole world.

This pandemic has given us plenty of time to reflect; a chance to remember what is truly important and what we should cherish instead of taking for granted.

And arguably, grandparents should be on top of that list.

You’ll have heard it said that being a grandparent is like you’ve been given a second chance; an opportunity to spend time in retirement with the next generation that work deprived you of when it came to your own.

There’s also a notion espoused by some of those grandparents that you love them more than your own kids, because this time, when you’re finished playing with them, you can give them back.

I never knew any of my four grandparents, because they were all dead before I was born. My own sons never knew my parents because they too had long departed before the next generation arrived.

But thankfully they did grow up with two grandparents as an integral part of their lives – and not just minding them, which they did with a commitment for which we will be ever grateful.

The measure of success in this department is that your children see your parents as just a part of the family; there’s an easy familiarity every time they meet, just like picking up the pieces without a second thought.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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

Home is still full of memories even when it’s an empty nest

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell
Dave O'Connell

We’ve all heard the phrase – and perhaps dread the concept; the empty nest, after the fledglings take flight and you’re left rattling around in a quiet house with just memories of those days of pandemonium and noise.

The social policy-makers would tell you that this is the time to downsize; save yourself the steps of the stairs and the cleaning, and cut down on the heating bills to enjoy your autumn days in accommodation more appropriate to your reduced needs.

And from a purely economic perspective, there’s merit in that. You have a house that’s now too big for you, and others can’t find a home of any size, let alone one sufficient for a full family – but that’s only one side of the argument.

The other is that your house is your home, and not because of its size – it’s because of its location, and your familiarity with its every nook and cranny. It’s also where those fly-away chicks still see as home, even if they’re now no more than occasional visitors.

As you grow older, familiarity is more important than ever; without the beautiful distraction of children, you grow even more dependent on neighbours and your community and the facilities you know on your old doorstep.

You know how long it takes to get to the shops or to the pub; you know you to give a spare key to in case you’re out when a delivery is due – or later on, if there’s a fear you might have a fall.

Your lifetime’s treasures – except for the children – are in your home; the sort of stuff others might see as clutter, but to you they are memories of holidays or graduations or births or marriages…those glory days that marked the chapters of your family life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Authors’ pot luck – or insight into predicting a terrible future

Dave O'Connell

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It’s eerie how some people can appear to have an ability to see into the future; forecasting an event or a phenomenon, years – sometimes even centuries – before it comes to pass.

Much was made this year of a number of books and movies that anticipated what we now know as the Coronavirus pandemic; predictions that even led to renewed interest in publications like Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year that goes back to 1722.

Edgar Allan Poe described a fictional epidemic at the centre of his short story, the Masque of the Red Death.

“No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution.”

More recently, Albert Camus’ the Plague explored the human toll of epidemics back in 1947 – and of course, the end of the world has been the subject of more movies than almost anything else.

But that’s not really suggesting they have some incredible insight into the future; Dystopian plots or backdrops are almost standard fare, and the spread of some toxin or virus is the easiest vehicle for writer’s to plot.

That doesn’t mean the reader or viewer isn’t stopped in their tracks when they come across a piece or a film that appears to have predicted the future.

One such slim volume that fulfils that brief is really just a long essay, entitled Here is New York.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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