I’m an Irish man. Twenty-three years old. But am I an Irishman? In removing the space between Irish and man one delves into, what Brendan Behan would describe as, the psychosis of Irishness. An Irish man is a modern creature. Irish becomes a simple tool of classification. The word is stripped of its mythologies and becomes a clinical and simple geographical term. In a sense Irish is dispossessed of its Irishness. Two distinct classes of Irishness are created.
The distinction between the two becomes more intriguing when it’s applied to the young Irish, because frankly to be Irish or to subscribe to any sort of exclusive idea of nationality will soon be an outdated concept. In an ironic twist, as society becomes increasingly multi-cultural and different nationalities begin to mix in a world that’s heavily globalised, nationality as a concept becomes obsolete. We are all one of the same. A large spectrum of young Irish people along with other young people from across the world are denizens of an Internet age.
They subscribe to a homogenous and pervasive culture that exists without nationality. To be Irish, British or American on the Internet is defunct because for the most part there is no fundamental difference between our cultures.
The idiosyncrasies that defined us waste away as we all ‘lol’ at Kanye West and Leonardo DiCaprio discussing Trump’s tiny hands. It has a certain vapid but peaceful harmony to it. To be Irish becomes a passive description and to a certain extent nationality is renounced in favour of joining this global network of people. We forgo our Irishness to become an Earth citizen, which is a far more harmonious and inclusive concept.
The fallacy of Irishness becomes glaringly apparent in this set-up. This unnerves me. It upsets me because I’ve grown accustomed to an outdated model that I use to identify myself.
Being Irish directly influences a large aspect of my character. I consider myself an Irishman but what does that mean?
Am I being exclusionary when I identify myself as such?
Of course I am. Is that defensible?
No it isn’t because when I do so I am describing myself as Irish in a bid to distinguish myself from those of other nationalities. I am not English because I am Irish.
By making that distinction I am inferring that to be Irish is in someway superior to being English, which is plain illogical racism. Nationality is a segregating device. However by this logic any demonstration of national pride becomes an inherently racist exhibition, which is an extreme notion.
Therefore can national pride be considered the one example of defensible or at least acceptable racism? Is being proud to be Irish an admission to being a benign racist, or is that an oxymoron?
Perhaps a means of tackling this is to ask is there a role for the Irish in a globalised world? Can the two coexist? What does it mean to be Irish or even young and Irish in the 21st century? I can only speak for my own sense of Irishness, which is an ideologically conflicted minefield of contradictions.
It reflects the variety that exists in contemporary Irish thought. I plan on living in London when I’m older yet I refuse to learn any of England’s geography because I maintain an immature animosity towards our former colonisers that has been systematically engendered within me since primary school.
I relish in the inoffensive mischief that defines the Irish. I decry the fecklessness of the Irish and in the same breath eulogize the numerous achievements of my country folk. I hail from Kildare, live in Dublin, pretend to be urbane and know that a year cannot be spent without at least one visit to the West because it’s good for the spirit.
I'm a twenty-six county nationalist whose misguided patriotism was founded primarily upon Neil Jordan's hopelessly inaccurate Michael Collins. I champion the local but abhor the incestuous and prying nature of parish-pump politics.
I wish I spoke Irish and liked the GAA.
I enjoy the informality of the Irish. I appreciate that we will always have an issue with accountability. I don’t scoff when someone waxes lyrical about the Irish landscape flowing through their veins, because I know it does the same for me, three-bed semi-d’s and all. I’m obsessed with my Irishness.
To be Irish is to be constantly at odds with yourself and others and still feel completely intact. There’s a schizoid element to our distinctly Irish psychosis. However is there room for our contrary national identity in a harmoniously globalised world? Truthfully I don’t believe there is. To be Irish is to be directly opposed to globalisation. To be any nationality is. As a process, globalisation requires its subjects to renounce the idiosyncratic identity that defines them so as to subscribe to a homogenous culture where everyone is one of the same.
Nationality is a fallacy, an outdated concept. It must be surrendered in order to achieve global harmony and peace through homogeneity.
World Peace is at stake and yet the notion of sacrificing my Irishness is too much for me. I know I never could. I’m an Irishman. Twenty-three years old. Who knows what he should do but doesn't.