The State of Us, Part 2: Irish identity is no longer fit for purpose

Ireland’s old markers of land, nationality and religion fail to reflect changes in society

Aiden Harris Igiehon. The Irish teenager was born and raised in Clondalkin, Dublin, and has a basketball scholarship at the Lawrence Woodmere Academy in New York. Photograph: Tom Honan

Aiden Harris Igiehon. The Irish teenager was born and raised in Clondalkin, Dublin, and has a basketball scholarship at the Lawrence Woodmere Academy in New York. Photograph: Tom Honan

If we were looking for a single number that would indicate what is genuinely distinctive about Ireland now, the number would have to be 17. It contains a remarkable paradox: 17 per cent of Irish people live abroad; but 17 per cent of those currently living in Ireland were born abroad.

By international standards, either of these figures would be notable. But it is in their co-existence that we can see how extremely porous the State now is. And how ambiguous and complex one of its defining relationships – that between people and place – has become.

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