As an Irishman in London I feel no disdain, just goodwill and friendliness


Sir, – Having read Megan Nolan’s account of her experience of the English (Life&Style, October 29th) I feel like I should respond on the basis of my own account of living in London these last five years.

In distinction to Ms Nolan’s account of feeling “dismissed and disdained” by her host nation, I have never felt anything but feelings of goodwill and friendliness. In fact, my Irishness seems only to increase the sense of welcome I receive.

My experience of the English is that they hold such a sense of romanticised benevolence towards the Irish that I and my Irish compatriots are more incentivised to “big-up” our Irishness rather than hide it away.

In London, at least, it is deeply fashionable to be Irish, loved for our image of good fun and sociability. All this despite a deadly bombing campaign in London by Irish republicans in the not-so-distant past.

While Irishness is in vogue in London and around the world, so increasingly is the politics of grievance and victimhood. It is unfortunate this variety of thought has crept into Irish thinking. The Irish have thrived all over the world through hard work and graft, not through resort to claims for understanding from our host countries.

Guilt is not passed down collectively from generation to generation. Neither the English nor anyone else are obliged to know anything of Irish history or Irish politics, they are, I presume, too busy living their own individual lives with the concerns and struggles that entails.

Today’s Irish, most of us deeply privileged from a global perspective, have no claim on the memory of those killed by the famine or any other act of colonial injustice in “our” past.

To try to appropriate such a claim is crude, as well as ungrateful to those English who today welcome us with open arms. – Yours, etc,


London, England.