‘The new tribe of Anglo-Irish’
Sir, – Fintan O’Toole’s article on the post-Brexit rush by several hundred thousand British people of Irish descent to acquire an Irish passport (“Why we should welcome the new tribe of Anglo-Irish”, Opinion and Analysis, April 6th) is thought-provoking. My only quibble is with his use of the term “Anglo-Irish” to describe these grandchildren of the diaspora.
In the past decade, I have acquired two English-born grandchildren – Irish mother, English father – who are numbered among the new passport holders.
I would struggle to identify them as “Anglo-Irish”.
It is impossible to divorce that term from its literary resonances and its historical associations with – to paraphrase Behan – persons of the reformed faith with strong equine interests. Equally, to describe John le Carré as Anglo-Irish is an awkward fit.
Instead of Anglo-Irish I propose the term “Hiberno-English”.
I recognise that it too has baggage – of the linguistic kind. But it allows for a binary ideal of identity while better acknowledging the Englishness of the “new tribe”, the vast majority of whom are unlikely ever to relocate to the land of their grannies.
By analogy, we would have Hiberno-Welsh and Hiberno-Scots (“Scots-Irish” having its own and very different connotations). – Yours, etc,