Sunday, 10 June 2018


All these years I’ve written you, and now I don’t know what to do. It was all so safe and comfy, seeing you through my English eyes, sometimes in awe, occasionally mocking with affection, yet always different; always other.

This citizenship malarkey is confusing. I’m still the same bloke I was two weeks ago, but now I’m Irish too. Does that mean I have to change the pronoun? 

Do I now have to write we instead of you? I haven’t suddenly become one of you, any more than I’ve stopped being a London-born Englishman.

My late father’s face comes to mind as I ponder this quandary. After a bruising day at school at the age of 10, I turned to him.

“What are we, Dad?”

“What do you mean?” 

“Well, some of the boys at school were saying I’m not English, ‘cos I’m Jewish, so I don’t belong here.”

“Ah, well, here’s what you are. You’re English, Yiddish and rubbish, and never forget it!”

As he said the word rubbish he twinkled his eye at me, so that I knew he was being ironic; that we were, in fact, very far from rubbish.

“English, Yiddish and rubbish? Is that what I tell them?”

“No! Not like that. Say it with pride and they’ll leave you alone.”

Hey Dad! There’s a new one on that list. Now I’m English, Irish, Yiddish and rubbish.

All in all quite a cultural cocktail.

That suits me well. I’m happy being an identity mongrel. I’m proud to be English, Irish and Jewish. More than mere labels, each identity means a lot to me, yet none wholly defines me; nor would I want it to.

As my freshly-conferred Irishness gently assimilates into my soul, I realise that my confusion over pronouns was slightly crass and premature.

Nothing needs to change.
I will always write of you.

It’ll always be you, because I’m a blow in, and always will be. I’ve a shiny new certificate that says I am one of you, but I am not of you, and never can be.

The west of Ireland has been kind to me, but sadly that was because when I arrived in 1992, the Irish people were still suffering from a national lack of self-confidence, pummelled into their souls throughout their lives.

At first it mystified me. Why were these hard-working creative people just sitting round feeling sorry for themselves?

As a self starter, I found that compared to the time and energy I’d need to invest in London, great reward was available in Galway, for very little effort.

Ever since Ireland’s inception, an overbearing establishment of legal, political and clerical institutions did their darnedest to make sure the Irish felt bloody awful about themselves.

No surprise then that this State reached out to the EU and USA for solutions. 
'Sure we’re only a small country so what would we know?' and all that nonsense.

Only a politician could call the changes Ireland has made over the last 25 years a “quiet revolution.”

Quiet up in your ivory tower maybe, Leo.
Down here, where us proles live, it has been exuberant and exciting. 

This is a great time to be Irish. Now the Irish people are modern, compassionate, assertive and confident, while their establishment is ancient and tired, constantly trying to seduce global conglomerates to be Ireland’s latest post-empire overlords.

Everything has changed in Ireland since I’ve been here, save for this.

Now is the time for those in power to stop wasting Irish money subsidising overseas corporations, who come and go without a care for the Irish. 

Why must everything big from elsewhere always appear better to a ruling Irish eye?

Last year thousands danced in the street when Galway was named European Capital of Culture 2020. Yet if you remember the Volvo Ocean Race, you cannot say you're genuinely surprised that much of the 2020 affair has been, so far, something of a farce. 

In 2009 Galway fell prostrate in front of the hi-tech billionare boats, while Irish talent, in the shape of Irish chefs, Irish musicians and local Irish suppliers were left unpaid in its wake.

At the same time, over the river, the Claddagh Boatmen - Bádóirí an Cladaig - were forced to battle bureaucracies that would break lesser groups. 

Yet they survived and thrive today, traning a new generation of Galwegians to build, sail and navigate Galway Hookers, the traditional boat that brings global identity to our county, our flag and crest.

This year Galway hosted Edfest for ex-Galway busker Sheeran, whose gigs bought serious green folding to the local economy, whilst simultaneously the council was trying to legislate against busking in the city.

Why do Irish politicians fear others’ success? 

Now is the time for the Irish establishment to reflect the talent, graft and enthusiasm pouring forth from Irish people.

Now is the time to invest in Ireland’s best resource: the Irish people.

Never mind the 8th. Take a look at Article 1 of your own constitution:

“The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.

It’s been right there, ever since your independence.

The founders of your nation trusted the genius of Irish people. It’s evident to the rest of the world, so why do successive Irish governments refuse to acknowledge that the Irish people are ready to be believed in, encouraged, invested in and trusted, in accordance with their own genius and traditions?

Or should I say our?

©Charlie Adley

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