Paisley's man in Basingstoke…

The Guardian has been out and about in Basingstoke asking local voters their opinion of their local DUP MP, Andrew Hunter. BTW, if Andrew’s interested, Slugger can recommend some excellent Irish language classes at the local Irish Centre, so he can brush up before ‘coming home’ next year.

  • Davros

    We don’t have to say a word here- just sit back and watch the enthusiasts slaughter each other LOL This could be as much fun as the UUP vs DUP !

  • maca

    “This could be as much fun as the UUP vs DUP”

    Not a chance Davros!! 😉

  • Nathan


    Cheers for the clarification, knew the word but chanced the spelling.

    Try to find the time and visit an Irish centre yourself next time you’re in GB. The two I’ve visited in the West Midlands consist mainly of sentimental plastic Paddies who have long viewed the auld country as some sort of enchanted spiritual Disneyland.

    Granted, there are those who are less hung up about Britain and the old colonial relationship, but they tend to be our fellow countrymen and women working here armed with good degrees.

    I personally don’t have any problem with people watching national sports etc in Irish centres and enjoying the Gaelic component to Ireland’s identity, that’s not the issue for me anyway. Its the scourge of narrowness that I was appalled by, the fact that the Oirish centres in Coventry and Birmingham in particular are clueless when it comes to finding a confident face for their Irishness.

    Being Irish doesn’t require a Catholic mask, I wish the plastics would realise this, especially them tribal no-nothings from Troops Out who swamp the place out. Their idea of an agreeable Irish Protestant can only ever be one who agrees with them and their naked provisionalism. Plastics seldom have their tolerance tested to sticking point, which is why we will be waiting a long time before these Oirish centres take tentative steps to embrace genuine racial, political and cultural diversity.

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. The plastics and the brittles really do need to find a fresh image, beyond rebellion and religion for their Irishness. And it must amount to more than just Gaelic twilight romanticism. This move has long been underway in our country, which increasingly defines itself not against Britishness but as modern and European. They’ve a lot of catching up to do!

  • Davros

    There’s quite a lot of truth in what you say Nathan.

  • Tom Griffin

    It’s true that most emigrant communities originated in an Ireland very different from that of today. But that doesn’t mean that we are stuck in a timewarp.
    We have had our own experiences in the mean time which are just as valid as anyone else’s.
    The one period when the Irish in Britain have had a significant influence on republicanism was the 1960s, when the Connolly Association helped to promote the move away from violence after the border campaign and towards the Civil Rights Movement.
    I don’t think the Irish in Britain (England at any rate) are necessarily more prone to equating Irishness with Catholicism than the Irish anywhere else.
    It’s an equation which suits a lot of people.
    It suits the British state which can portray itself as a multi-cultural mediator.
    It suits the section of unionism which rejects any notion of Irish identity.
    And of course, it suits the Catholic Church.

  • George

    A lot of sense alright Nathan although what you point out about the centres might have a lot to do with the fact that the people who hang around these centres are generally the ones who have not integrated in any major way and who have no other social net to rely on other than drink and the Catholic Church.

    The behaviour of successive Irish governments towards the Irish diaspora in Britain has been nothing short of disgraceful – they have received virtually no support, despite many of them supporting us for decades both financially and intellectually. Hopefully this will start to change.

    I won’t go into their general treatment by the host country.

  • maca

    Good points. Hopefully those emigrating these days won’t carry such romantic notions about Ireland we might see a change in these centres in future.
    Do the centres have anything good to offer do you think? 😉

  • Young Fogey

    Tuaisceart Éire doesn’t work as far as I know Young Fogey. Have you forgotten your tuiseal ginideach?

    Forgotten implies I ever had one! One year of ‘Irish Studies’ in school, two 35 minute periods a week (and to think of all those paranoid notions Unionists have about Catholic education in Northern Ireland). What little Irish I’ve picked up is pure autodidacticism. And I love languages.


    I genuinely do think a lot of London Irish live in a time warp as far as what modern Ireland is about goes. I was lucky enough to arrive in England with a decent education and good career prospects, like most of my generation of Irish émigrés and unlike too many of our predecessors. My only contact with official Irish London, beyond reading the World or the Post sometimes, is to have given some (not enough!) support to some of the Camden Irish Centre’s work with homeless and alcoholic Irish.

    It’s not something I need. My Irishness is not something which needs to be broadcast (my accent does that anyway!) nor is it something to be ashamed of. It simply is and people can take or leave it as they choose fit. I suppose we’re lucky that the radical changes in society both sides of the border in Ireland, in Britain and in London gives us this latitude. I’m certainly not complaining.

    Put it this way, I could live in the North West London Irish ghetto (which looks less and less so every month), but it’s not why I came here. I choose to live in a part of London in which most people are either posh Home Counties English or Arabs or Chinese. If I wanted to live in an Irish ghetto I could have stayed at home. And even then, the area I come from is having more and more overseas immigration.

    So it’s not a matter of begredging the Irish Centres or the people who broadcast that nice radio programme on 568 (?) FM on Saturday afternoons. I just don’t need it, and neither do most of my generation of Irish in London.

  • willowfield


  • Tom Griffin

    Young Fogey

    You sound like you’re more active in the Irish community than a lot of us in the ‘ghetto’, which isn’t really a ghetto. (about 6 per cent Irish if I remember correctly.)
    North-west London is one of the most diverse areas in Europe and has been for some time. I wonder whether that isn’t an area where the Irish in Britain are in advance of our counterparts back home. I don’t think 80 per cent of the Irish here would have voted for the citizenship referendum, for example.

  • Davros

    That drive Cricklewood Broadway,Cricklewood Lane, Childs Hill and Finchley Rd into Golders Green – a history of the British Empire.

  • maca

    ” I don’t think 80 per cent of the Irish here would have voted for the citizenship referendum, for example.”

    Good point. Ireland has never had to deal with the immigrant issue before. It’s only in the past few years that things have really taken off, it’s been a bit of a kick in the face for Irish people. In London it’s obviously been much different and it’s far more diverse.
    Still, Ireland will catch up in time I rckon.

  • Young Fogey

    Tom, good points. Didn’t realise you were so close to me. I’m down in Bayswater. I live about 25 minutes walk from Kilburn High Street and regularly cycle through it, but somehow never seem to have managed a night on the tear there!

  • Tom Griffin

    I went for a drink in Kilubrn recently for the first time in ages, and I was surprised how gentrified its become.
    The North London Tavern, where I used to work, has become very trendy, as has the Black Lion. Of course, Kilburn has always had one of the best local theatres anywhere in the Tricycle.
    Cricklewood is going the same way. There’s a big new hotel next to the Crown, the pub from the song McAlpine’s Fusiliers, which always used to be the place to get a job on the sites and a real dive, but has changed completely.
    They’re also supposed to be building a Jury’s next to the Galtymore. I suppose the Celtic Tiger hasn’t passed us by after all.

  • Young Fogey

    You need to go to somewhere like Hanwell for a taste of the real Irish London these days, Tom! 😉

  • Nathan


    Do the centres have anything good to offer do you think?”

    The Irish language programme offered in places like Basingstoke to those who haven’t the means to afford a private tutor, having no other option but to put up with the clientele I suppose.

    But honestly, as fogey mentioned those who come to Britain armed with qualifications are simply not dependent on these Irish centres.

    And that includes the Irish born multi-millionnaire building construction directors in my borough who can easily afford the petty cash required to subscribe to Setanta TV in the luxury of their own homes (160 stg per annum I’m led to believe)

  • Nathan

    “The North London Tavern, where I used to work, has become very trendy, as has the Black Lion.”

    Are there plenty of Oirish theme pub alive and kicking in London? The ones done out like reject installations from a heritage museum.

    At one stage the market in the West Midlands for these Oirish theme-drinking dens was more saturated than a Guinness-soaked beer towel.
    I shed no tears for the forced bonhomie, faux-Gaelic bric-a-brac and too much of The Dubliners on the juke box when a few of them had to close. They only encouraged a universal cringe which was to turn us Irish into silver-tongued, all dancing-singing role-playing embodiments of all things Celtic for the further entertainment of the English.

  • Tom Griffin

    I think that particular trend probably peaked a while ago.
    Incidentally, the presence or absence of Setanta TV is a good rule of thumb to tell the theme pubs from the real thing.

  • alex s

    I see the DUP are getting another recruit, Jim Kirkpatrick, having left the UUP twice he is now joining the DUP for the second time, Ulsters very own ‘flip flop’

  • Nathan

    “I think that particular trend probably peaked a while ago.”

    yeah, the likes of Allied Domecq put the brakes on these drinking dens a while ago. They didn’t fool me with their dishonest psuedo-authenticity.

    Whoever dreamt up such a marketing ploy was clearly aware of the financial potential of pandering to people’s wishful stereotypes about the charming and soulful Irish. It could only have been conceived of as possible because there were lots of people out there who believed in this kind of guff. It was a con, a seductive con, and none it would appear, were so prone to it as English people. Not to mention some of the brittles and the plastics of course who love to ham up the Oirish.

  • Young Fogey

    At one stage the market in the West Midlands for these Oirish theme-drinking dens was more saturated than a Guinness-soaked beer towel.

    I once shared a flight from London to Istanbul with a devout Muslim teetotal Turk who was a barman in a three-storey fake Oirish superpub around the Bullring somewhere.

    Ir was the Turkish end of term party tonight, so I’ve had a few. Oii’ll take you home again Kashleeeeeen. In a merry, non threating, theme-parky sort of way, of course.

  • Nathan

    “I once shared a flight from London to Istanbul with a devout Muslim teetotal Turk who was a barman in a three-storey fake Oirish superpub around the Bullring somewhere.”

    Bet you he had to manufacture his warm glow for the punters, fogey. Thankfully, the regeneration of the Bullring has changed Birmingham for the better. The bulldozers took care of them ghastly pubs.

    Ever noticed the way in which English people in these Oirish pubs gave the real Irish unmerited attention simply because we were born on the other side of water? It wasn’t good for either people. These Oirish pubs promoted the idea that we can somehow be blessed with an inflated worth by virtue of which clump of turf our parents got frisky on.