According to Chris Agee of Irish Pages there is an enormous difference between affairs of province and parish. The former refers deferentially to an elsewhere (London or Dublin say) whereas the latter is entirely unto itself and universal. Considering how NI went from backwater in 1968/9 to staging of a thirty year epic struggle, Norman Geras’s poetry choice of Patrick Kavanagh’s Epic is extraordinarily apt. And there’s Niall Quinn’s thoughts on Ireland as parish.
In different ways people brought different things to the table in that team. Jack brought a collectiveness and a man management style that had us all wanting to die for each other, which in turn emulates that idea that we felt this was our parish, if I can put it in GAA terms. The lads with English accents soon became very much part of it. They weren’t asked to do Ceilli dancing. They weren’t asked to prove their Irishness that way. They were asked to prove it in their spirit and fight for the team. And one or two came along who didn’t buy into it and were soon gone. But the ones who did, if you ask them now, they feel themselves to very glad that they went and discovered their Irishness. And they had to discover it on the sports field and go back and perhaps get a grasp of what this nation was about, where perhaps their grandfathers or maybe their mothers or fathers had had to leave because of the work situation in those times had harboured or fostered a love for the country. It wasn’t for the money.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty