A befuddled relationship: Readers on their ‘Irishness’
50 people responded to Roisín O’Donnell’s article on her ‘mental knuckle-fight’ with Irish identity, having grown up in England
Sam Huleatt-James: ‘I try to surround myself with people for whom nationality is not an issue.’
Roisín O’Donnell: ‘I had always considered myself Irish, but on moving to Dublin I found my claim to Irish identity under almost-constant scrutiny.’
Gail Fleming: Among Maori, ‘I found I could be Irish, British, with my heart in Scotland, a Francophile, and be half way to becoming a Kiwi.’
Gareth Cassidy: ‘For integration to be successful, the exclusive right to feel at home in a country has to be dealt with. The struggles to adapt to a new country can be hard enough.’
“Better a stranger in a strange land than a stranger in your homeland,” commented one of the many readers who got in touch, following the publication of my article ‘My mental knuckle-fight with Irishness’. In the article, I related my befuddled relationship with Irish identity, having grown up in England with parents from Northern Ireland, and having moved to Ireland at the age of 18. I had always considered myself Irish, but on moving to Dublin I found my claim to Irish identity under almost-constant scrutiny.
It’s a familiar experience for many people; “Having moved here from Zimbabwe as a child I can relate to both the children you describe and to your own experience,” says Sam Huleatt-James, who finds it a pity that a “members only” attitude still exists around the idea of Irishness. “To avoid this I try to surround myself with people for whom nationality is not an issue,” says Sam, “but unfortunately one can be sideswiped every now and then when one least expects it!”