“God help you if you forget this when you encounter an Irishman”

This helpful Euler diagram comes with the warning above:

The UK’s full name is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. People from the UK are called “British”. One British person is called a Briton. People from England are called English. People from Scotland are called Scottish. People from Wales are called Welsh. People from Northern Ireland are called Northern Irish. English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish people are all British (whether they like it or not).

The ROI’s full name is “The Republic of Ireland” (if you are speaking English) or “Éire” (if you are speaking Irish). People from the ROI are called “Irish”. Irish people are not British. British people are not Irish. Irish people are not Northern Irish and Northern Irish people are not Irish. God help you if you forget this when you encounter an Irishman.

The ROI is not British. However, the “British Isles” include both the UK and ROI. Irish people hate this, but there is no consensus on what to call it instead. (May I humbly suggest “The British and Irish Isles”?)

And a hat tip to the mischievous Cormac!

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  • Mayoman

    Just posted this on another thread, but useful here too.

    National Geographic now uses ‘British and Irish Isles’

    Edited link – moderator

  • Cormac

    If you check the Wikipedia link, the Scots Gaelic translation for British Isles is ‘British Isles’ but in Irish it’s Isles of Western Europe. Interesting!

  • Mayoman

    Try this link instead!

    edited link – moderator

  • “Who wants to go with a travel company that is so geographically confused and disoriented?”

    Of course, why not instead take your geography lessons from a ranting IRA-sympathiser.

  • the postman

    Without even getting into the “whether they like it or not” crap.. this fella could do with checking his facts.

    The term Republic of Ireland is the description of the State but not its name.

    “This is largely because our various nations have been playing rugby, football and cricket for longer than the UK has existed.”

    Wrong wrong wrong.

  • Ian Paisley’s secretary

    Britain is an island.
    Ireland is an island.
    Neither can be an isle of the other.

    European Western isles or North Atlantic Archipeligo.

    God knows its simple enough.

  • Small”r” Rupublican

    The full name of IReland ir Ireland not the RoI

  • “The term Republic of Ireland is the description of the State but not its name.”

    It’s apparently the name often used in UK legislation whereas the Dubs use ‘Ireland’ instead.

    The CAIN ‘researchers’ choked on the UK version of the 1985 AIA and have substituted some of the Dub lingo!!

    ANGLO-IRISH AGREEMENT 1985
    between
    THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND
    and
    THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

  • Paul

    Actually, I have to disagree with some of the points above.

    The original meaning of ‘British’ Refers to both islands, and still does. Only in modern times has the word ‘British’ come to refer to the UK. The larger island is actually ‘Great Britain’.

    Ireland (all of it) is therefore geographically British, and attempts to distort this show a lack of understanding of geography and history.

    Likewise, Ireland (all of it) is also geographically Irish. Only in modern times has ‘Ireland’ only referred to the southern part of it. Likewise, attempts to distort this show a complete lack of understanding of geography or history.

    Any Northern Irish unionist that says they are ‘not Irish’ does not get the bigger picture. They of course, however, are British and not Irish by nationality.

    If only we could all see the bigger picture and understand the above 2 points – then we maybe could all get along. *In the correct context*, British unionists are Irish, and Irish nationalists are British.

    My point of ‘Irish nationalists are British’ *ALSO INCLUDES* all those in the Republic, despite having an independent sovereign state. The lack of ability of the populace in the Republic to acknowledge this shows deep signs of insecurity from the populace there – just try telling someone from the Republic that they are British and wait for the reaction!! Of course those in the Republic are Irish by nationality, and not British by nationality, but the refusal to acknowledge any Britishness at all shows a complete lack of a view of the bigger picture.

    In conclusion – ‘Irish’ and ‘British’ are related and entwined in a very complex manner – neither is complete without the other.

  • Rory

    “No man is an island unto himself” said the poet, John Donne, thereby showing that he was unaware of the existence of the Isle of Man, which is of course an island unto itself.

    Freud (I learned from the Martin Scorcese film The Departed) once opined that “Of all races only the Irish are not susceptible to pschoanalysis”. But I do not think that renders us so utterly schizophrenic that we are able to ever conclude that “Northern Irish people are not Irish”.

    A Polar bear, after all, is still a bear when all’s said and done.

  • Cormac

    Further to the diagram, I was under the impression that:

    Britain->England+Wales
    Great Britain->England+Wales+Scotland
    UK->England+Wales+Scotland+NI

    I was completely ignorant of the Britain bit above until after I left school, to my shame.

    If Scotland leaves the union I suppose it’ll still remain the UK, but any suggestions for a new name?

  • Ian Paisleys secretary

    A unionist is going to pedal the story that this island is in some way british. Its in his colonised make-up.
    Both are separate islands. Neither can be an island of the other.

  • Cormac

    Rory,

    I suppose it’s something like the Swiss being European, but not part of Europe (so not European, if you see what I mean).

  • Cormac

    Paul:


    Any Northern Irish unionist that says they are ‘not Irish’ does not get the bigger picture. They of course, however, are British and not Irish by nationality.

    So you are saying that Unionists are Irish by birth but not nationality. Interesting, but I’ve never heard my Unionist friends refer to themselves that way. Although it could be more common than I had thought.

  • Dk

    Cormac:

    Britain->England+Wales
    Great Britain->England+Wales+Scotland
    UK->England+Wales+Scotland+NI

    and then…

    British Isles->England+Wales+Scotland+NI+RoI+Mann

    Don’t know where the Channel Islands figure.

  • Cormac

    DK,

    I think it’s the ROI bit in the British Isles bit that’s causing the problems…

    I prefer IONA – Islands Of North Atlantic, although nobody uses it.

  • Cormac, ‘Britain’ is often used as the official shorthand for the UK of GB & NI.

    I once did a ‘Vox Pop’ amongst a smattering of civil servants in the Taoiseach’s office and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    I discovered that each had departments of protocol ie folks who could advise the two ministers on the appropriate language to use. Their efforts at keeping Bertie on the straight and narrow have been an abysmal failure eg ‘Scotland’s National bard, Bobby Burns’ at a Lothian Lecture!!

    Receptionists and ‘lesser’ civil servants tended to use ‘the Republic’ for the ’26 counties’ whereas their seniors used ‘Ireland’.

    I recall pointing out to the then Head of Protocol in the Taioseach’s office that the interchangeable use of Ireland for the state and for the island was very confusing. He blamed the DFA: “They were bl**dy well supposed to have sorted that out”. My gob was smacked!!

  • pith

    Nevin,

    Ireland is always Ireland in international treaties. Any EU Treaty for example will refer to the President of Ireland while Italy gets the President of the Italian Republic and Austria, the President of the Republic of Austria.

  • Ian Paisleys secretary

    British Isles = the island and isles of Britain.

    Irish isles = the island and isle of Ireland.

    Constantly saying the opposite won’t make it so.

  • Paul

    Cormac:

    I think most unionists that I’ve met would have a strong Northern Irish/Ulster identity before their Irish one, but knowing one long enough they will always display some sort of an Irish identity as well (partition, the troubles, IRA etc. has had the effect of pushing the Irish part of a unionst’s identity further into the background). For example, it is more common to see unionists supporting the Irish rugby team in Northern Ireland than nationalists!

    What most unionists that I’ve met don’t oppose is ‘Irish’ per-se, but more the aspects that say that say that to be Irish involves endorsing the cultures and associations of many of the nationalist movements over time, and those of the southern state. There is a feeling that the southern state has ‘hijacked’ the word ‘Irish’ and it’s use is avoided to prevent ambiguity with that state.

    It is actually a complete mirror image with the British identity. The fact that much of the southern state’s identity is based on being ‘not British’, rather than endorsing the British element of an Irish identity and preventing the same hijack of the word ‘British’ by the other 4/5 of the archipelago. Similarly, the word ‘British’ being avoided by southern Irish to prevent association with the state occupying the 4/5 of the archipeligo.

    IPS:

    The ‘British’ in British isles does not refer to the islands being ‘of’ anyone. It’s more that the United Kingdom is ‘of’ the British Isles and not that the British Isles are ‘of’ the United Kingdom.

  • “Ireland is always Ireland in international treaties.”

    It depends on which version of the 1985 AIA you refer to!! I wonder if either one or the other or both were lodged at the UN.

    I used to think of Ireland as the name of the island but when I read Ahern or McAleese speeches I have to figure out whether they mean the 26 or the 32.

  • Britain->England+Wales

    That’s not correct. Britain isn’t really defined anywhere, and certainly not like that. It’s used as a convenient shorthand for both Great Britain and for the United Kingdom at different times.

    There are also the British Islands which includes the UK (GB & NI)and the protectorates (IoM, Channel Islands etc)

  • pith

    The Anglo-Irish Agreement wasn’t a Treaty. Was it registered at the UN?

  • Rory

    It is not uncommon to meet a Yorkshireman who when asked if he is English will reply, “Ahm bloody Yorkshire and that’s what ah am” (apologies for my attempt at the vernacular). I think that such Yorkshiremen equate being “English” with a sort of effete south-eastern, perhaps more precisely, London type of undesirability.

    Maybe it is that those who would think of themselves as “Northern Irish” yet not “Irish” subscribe to a somewhat similar process of thought.

  • Cormac

    Yeah, I was using ‘Britain’ in the Roman sense – ie not Scotland – above.

    Personally, I always use ‘Britain’ to refer to the island and islands of Great Britain (bet that annoys the Scots and the Manx…)

  • Dewi

    “Ynys Prydain” – the source of all this – means the Isle of Britain. So there (Again)

  • Why does Slugger keep poking at this seeping wound?

    However, I see that a Euler diagram:

    represents the degenerate conjunctions between things…

    “Degenerate”, hmmm.

  • Pith, I can find no UN reference number.

    “Both Governments make clear in the Joint Declaration that any change in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland would be subject to the consent of a majority of its people as set out in the Anglo-Irish Agreement, itself an international instrument registered at the United Nations.”

  • Greenflag

    jayzus wept 🙁

    Could we have a Venn Diagram on Israel/Palestine or Iraq or somewhere less complicated but more important and which could impact on whether we will soon be returning to the donkey and cart because we can’t afford petrol at 200 dollars a barrel !

  • Ian Paisleys secretary

    The island of Britain will always be British, no matter what the Scots do politically in the future.
    Ireland will never be an isle of the island of Britain no matter what happens in the future.

  • Greenflag, donkeys might be even more expensive – especially those in the Dáil 😉

  • Dewi

    “Ceir cyfeiriadau mor gynnar â Nennius at Ryfeddodau Ynys Brydain, dinasoedd yr ynys (32 ohonynt) ac ati. Cyfeirir yn aml at “Ynys Brydain a’i thair rhagynys,” sef Môn, Manaw ac Wyth (sylwer nad oes sôn am ynysoedd yr Alban).”

    From Nennius – refers to the 32 cities of the Isle of Britain and its three sub-isles – Anglesey, Man and Wight (not Hebrides not included)

  • Dewi, so Nennius made a heap of all he could find in Bangor, North Wales – and someone translated it into Welsh?

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘donkeys might be even more expensive – especially those in the Dáil ;)’

    Nothing can be said about politicians that has’nt already been said about haemorrhoids .

  • pith

    Nevin,

    You are probably right on the Treat thing. CAIN has it down as a Treaty deposited at the UN. I’m out of my depth on this thread. Think I’ll cross over to the one about the Beatles in space and slate the Rolling Stones instead.

  • Anus horribilis, Greenflag? Don’t they have soft cushions on the backbenches?

  • Dewi @ 02:33 PM is being a trifle liberal with the verité here, as Nevin @ 03:19 PM implies.

    1. Nennius (or at least the version that comes down to us) lists 33 “cities” (i.e. Dewi’s count +1) including Camelot and Teigngrace, in Devon (present population all of a couple of hundred? — but with Templar connections, if that mustards your ham).
    2. “Nennius” is writing in the 8th century, but the standard version, the Historia Brittonum is three hundred years later. He certainly didn’t write in modern Welsh (indeed, he allegedly had to concoct a runic alphabet to contradict the canard that the British/”Welsh” did not have a written language).
    3. He’s also a trifle confused over Patrick:

    When Gratian Aequantius was consul at Rome, because then the whole world was governed by the Roman consuls, the Saxons were received by Vortigern in the year of our Lord four hundred and forty-seven…

    In those days Saint Patrick was a captive among the Scots. His master’s name was Milcho, to whom he was a swineherd for seven years. When he had attained the age of seventeen he gave him his liberty. By the divine impulse, he applied himself to reading of the Scriptures, and afterwards went to Rome; where, replenished with the Holy Spirit, he continued a great while, studying the sacred mysteries of those writings. During his continuance there, Palladius, the first bishop, was sent by pope Celestine to convert the Scots. But tempests and signs from God prevented his landing, for no one can arrive in any country, except it be allowed from above; altering therefore his course from Ireland, he came to Britain and died in the land of the Picts.

    That might be music to the ears of our Ulster-Scots contingent.

    Particularly if we also take into account the statement of St Prosper of Aquitaine, that by sending Patrick to Ireland, Celestine saved “that Roman island” for the faith and brought the light of Christianity to a “barbarous” place.

    Anyway, why should we get so bothered about PC-terminology for “here”? If we don’t know where we live, and how to find our way home, heaven help us.

  • circles

    What a flurry.
    Just checked my passport – born in Antrim, Nationality Irish. Can yer man stick that in his Euler?
    Now if you’ll excuse me – sleep calls…..

  • Pith, here’s the UN guide to a plethora of international instruments!!

  • Dewi

    My source was Welsh that’s all !!!!

    Here’s more….http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/nennius-full.html

  • Malcolm, the Scots mentioned here are, presumably, the group from here formerly known as the Scotti (cf scotos – darkness)

  • “My source was Welsh”

    Celtopedia?

  • Nevin @ 04:34 PM:

    As in:

    Antipholus: Where Scotland?
    Dromio: I found it by the barrenness.
    [Comedy of Errors; III.ii]

    Odd that Old Bill the Ever-perceptive only uses the word “barrenness” once, and in that connection.

    Anent which, he uses “Britain” 27 times in Cyberline (but only three times in the rest of the corpus), including the cryptic:

    Britain is
    A world by itself; and we will nothing pay
    For wearing our own noses.
    [III.i]

    All this because I couldn’t find a context for:

    I will rather trust a Fleming with my butter, Parson Hugh the Welshman with my cheese, an Irishman with my aqua-vitae bottle, or a thief to walk my ambling gelding, than my wife with herself.
    [Merry Wives of Windsor; II.ii]

    Still, I offer it all the same, now well and truly off-topic.

  • Dewi

    Celtopedia?

    Wicipedia !

    Ynys Prydain

  • picador

    ‘The original meaning of ‘British’ Refers to both islands, and still does. Only in modern times has the word ‘British’ come to refer to the UK. The larger island is actually ‘Great Britain’.’

    Hogwash!

    The fact that Great Britain is called as it is is nothing to do with Britain alleged greatness (nor Irelands inferiority). The Normans were not the most of original thinkers when it came to naming places. Thus they called the island across the sea ‘Grand Bretagne’ to ditinguish it from neighbouring ‘Bretagne’. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) Western Brittany is known as Cornouaille, the same name that the French give to Cornwall.

    I once had a summer job selling ice-cream on a beach in Brittany. On learning that I was from Ireland an elderly Breton couple chatted to me aimably until, when the the question ‘Aimes-tu Bretagne?’ was put to me, I replied with an emphatic ‘Non!’. The conversation was over. Only some later did I realise my faux-pas. The old couple had not been talking politics at all!

  • Yvonne

    Right. Now that we have solved the Great Britain question where is the sofA?

  • Malcolm, the ‘unrestrainedly inventive’ and ‘young Earther’ Nennius in translation: “15. According to the most learned among the Scots, if any one desires to learn what I am now going to state, Ireland was a desert, and uninhabited, when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea,..”

  • Wicipedia – for the ‘unrestrainedly inventive’ Welsh!!

    Welsh alphabet: “dd – “th” (voiced) as in “the” (never the voiceless “th” sound as in “thin, e.g., “bedd”

    We, in north Antrim, pronounce ‘ladder’, ‘leather’. Have we had an influx of p-Celts, a white chariot culture? 😉

  • RepublicanStones

    Anglo-Celtic islands is a fair refelection. any attempt by people to shoehorn Ireland into the british equation is frankly saying alot about themelves, which they would probably not admit to.

  • Nevin @ 08:44 PM:

    Nice one.

    Now, what’s the current thinking on the date of the Exodus? At one time, as I recall, it was being hypothesised that the Israelites were also the Hyksos, and were defeated and driven out by Thutmosis III about 1500BC. I even remember attempts to identify the “column of fire by night/ of cloud by day” with the Thera eruption. Has not the date of Moses been brought forward by later theories?

    So, we are looking for an Irish “desert” between (say) 1500-1250 BC. That’s right about the time that the Mount Gabriel workings (near Schull, Co. Cork) alone were producing hundreds of tons of copper, Ireland was in the middle of the Bronze Age, and prosperous: the excavations on the Mound of Hostages at Tara showed imports of faience (from the Near East) and amber (from the Baltic). That hardly sounds like “desert”-conditions.

    Barton notes the rise of fertility worship (specifically in connection with the Beaghmore, Cookstown, complex) around that time when “over-grazing” was a problem. Might we extrapolate from that to over-population and famine? There must have been considerable fall-out from Thera, which I see is now being recalculated as second only to Krakatoa.

    Taken more loosely, especially if we disconnect the vague “Red Sea” reference, Nennius would have some reason for his assertion. Is he likely to be recording a folk-memory of AD536, the Years without Summer, three centuries before his time, or some earlier parallel?

  • Oiliféar

    Paul,

    “The original meaning of ‘British’ Refers to both islands, and still does. Only in modern times has the word ‘British’ come to refer to the UK. The larger island is actually ‘Great Britain’.

    “Ireland (all of it) is therefore geographically British, and attempts to distort this show a lack of understanding of geography and history.”

    Ummm … sure … if you are willing to accept that the island we today call ‘Britain’ does not in fact exist, but in it’s place we have an island called Albion. You must also accept that ‘British’ refers not only to Albion, Ireland and Mann, but also refers to Iceland and the Faroes.

    Of course, as surprised as I am, as an inhabitant of Ireland, to be told that I am ‘British’, I can only imagine how surprised Icelanders and Faroe Islanders must be! As, I suspect, inhabitants of the larger island will be surprised to hear that they are in fact Albanians!

    If you will permit me to correct what you wrote:

    “Only in modern times has the word ‘British’ come to refer to the UK.”

    True, as the UK has only existed in modern times, however, what I believe you meant to write was that only in the early middle ages did ‘Britain’ come to refer to the island of formerly known as Albion. See Bede, for example, who also makes a clear distinction between Britain, Ireland and their inhabitants, of which the “Britons” refers only to one distinct group residing in the southern part of the island of Britain.

    Prior to then, it had referred to the area under Roman colonisation, and the island was known as Albion, and before then to an archipelago which we do not imagine as existing today, one that was then taken to include Iceland and the Faroes as well as Albion, Ireland and Mann. I believe it is this earliest occasion of the word that you refer to, despite being irreconcilably different to how we interpret ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ today.

    “The larger island is actually ‘Great Britain’.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure. Check the OED:

    Britain: an island that consists of England, Wales, and Scotland and includes the small adjacent islands. The name is broadly synonymous with Great Britain, but the longer form is more usual for the political unit.

    Great Britian: England, Wales, and Scotland considered as a unit. The name is also used loosely to refer to the United Kingdom.

  • Fraggle

    “Northern Irish people are not Irish”

    This is flat out wrong as Ian Paisley could tell you.

  • PaddyReilly

    “The larger island is actually ‘Great Britain’.”

    The Island of Britain is Great Britain. Little Britain or Britanny is not an island, but a peninsula of France.

  • Dewi

    Britanny a peninsula of France?

    We’re not French – First Welsh colony by the way……..

  • Oiliféar

    … a peninsula off France? 🙂

  • Jon Juan

    To the Scottish Presbyterian section of my family, I often represent Ireland and Britain with the term ‘Irish Isles’, which induces in them a similar sense of unease as ‘British Isles’ does among citizens of the RoI (i.e. they splutter). For this purposes alone it is productive, as it reminds them of the difficulties arising from collapsing history into terminology… Unease is not necessarily a bad thing – it seems to be a good ‘tool for thought’.

    So, looking at a two (major) islands context, the experience of the Troubles has alienated unionists from expressions of an ‘Irish’ component to their identity (cf Paul on Feb 05, 2008 @ 12:45 PM), but has strengthened English associations (for instance) of Ulster unionists with Ireland and its politics.

    Cross-threading, we see nationalist and southern Irish difficulties with representing Aughrim and the Boyne as events whose outcomes can be celebrated within an independent Irish jurisdiction. (The Scots have similar problems with battlefields, while the English also have a Civil War to mull over…) Maybe the spending of taxpayers’ money on the Orange Order in the RoI will force thinking on this issue.

    Etymology, historical sources and roots, contending arguments over the hierarchy of terms – these are all good ways of stoking anger and shoring up positions. Maybe it’s to my shame that I can only approach this terminological debate in an ironising tone. (Though it does make it easier to accept a) being wrong, and b) being hectored)

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    I’d just like to say that I’m very proud to be a British Irish Republican Nationalist. How’s that?

    The Prytanic Isles = The British Isles!

    and if Ireland is a part of these British Isles.

    therefore, Gaelic = ancient British language!

    All things Gaelic and Irish = British!

    ….and it’s about time then that the rightful Kingship and governance of these islands was brought back to Tara from Buckingham Palace!

  • oisin31

    The details above are interesting – but on a number of points plain wrong.

    The name of the state in the South is Ireland. The 1937 Constitution makes that clear. The Republic of Ireland Act, 1949 did not change the name of the state. Nor could it – only a referendum can change the name of the state. All it did – and all it could do – was declare the state to be a republic.

    That’s why you will find in the Northern Ireland Act, 1998, passed by Westminster, the Government of Ireland is called just that, and not the Government of the Republic of Ireland.

    Regarding Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement recognises the right of people to be British or Irish or both. This is also recognised in the British Irish Agreement to which the Good Friday Agreement is in fact an Annex.

    However, the British Government has not implemented the Good Friday Agreement and British Irish Agreement properly in domestic law. Domestic British law (the nationality acts, as amended) essentially make clear that people born in Northern Ireland are British whether they like it or not. But anybody born in the North who wants an Irish passport can have one (subject to some conditions). British law recognises them as Irish nationals but also as British nationals. British law, in contravention of the British Irish Agreement (an instrument binding in international law) and the Good Friday Agreement does not recognise their right to be Irish alone.

  • foreign correspondent

    ´´However, the British Government has not implemented the Good Friday Agreement and British Irish Agreement properly in domestic law. Domestic British law (the nationality acts, as amended) essentially make clear that people born in Northern Ireland are British whether they like it or not. But anybody born in the North who wants an Irish passport can have one (subject to some conditions). British law recognises them as Irish nationals but also as British nationals. British law, in contravention of the British Irish Agreement (an instrument binding in international law) and the Good Friday Agreement does not recognise their right to be Irish alone.´´

    Interesting stuff, but say you were born in N.I. and have always held an Irish passport and only an Irish passport, as is my case. Whatever British law may say, surely any country in the world will deem me to be an Irish national as that is what my passport says?

  • Prince Eoghan

    >>Britanny a peninsula of France?

    We’re not French – First Welsh colony by the way……..<< Shame on you Dewi! Aren't we enlightened souls supposed to look down on colonial aggressors? Anyhow, how does native Britons, fleeing for their lives (Derry style ie. over decades) all along the south coast of Britain from the Saxon foe's genocidal rampages. Translate as the first Welsh colony? Was there a second btw? Don't tell me, they have been too busy these past 1500 years devising ways to build a new railway hub east of Moscow in a fortnight.

  • Star of the County Down

    “The name of the state in the South is Ireland. The 1937 Constitution makes that clear.”

    Does it? At most, as a translation. In that state’s national & official first language, it’s Éire.

    http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/attached_files/html%20files/Constitution%20of%20Ireland%20(Eng)Nov2004.htm

  • Dewi

    Was there a second btw? – Yes, Patagonia ! Only kidding. Thanks for reminding me about those Russian railway hubs……

  • Dewi

    Wales second colony going bilingual Expand the photo on bottom right.

  • Paul

    Picador: “Hogwash! The fact that Great Britain is called as it is is nothing to do with Britain alleged greatness (nor Irelands inferiority)”

    Look at what I wrote again – did I ever say this? – I am well aware of the ‘Great’ in being a distinction from Bretagne in France.

    As expected, I also get the predictable howling from the likes of Oilifar:Of course, as surprised as I am, as an inhabitant of Ireland, to be told that I am ‘British’.

    I have been resident in continental Europe for almost 5 years. I feel that it is only really once you leave your homeland that you get a true reflection of your own identity – you also become much more open-minded about many things. Irish notions of identity in the Republic especially is that of being ‘not British’, when in fact in so many ways they are near indistinguishable from their neighbours in the British Isles. Most Europeans see the British Isles as being one – i.e. where all the European English speakers come from – they often can’t distinguish anything between Scotland, England, Wales, or Ireland (north or south). People in the Isles all speak English for a start (there is nothing stronger than language in a common identity), have the reputation among other Europeans for drinking too much and all have a similar sense of humour. I notice people from all parts of the isles also tend to cling together socially in international circles – there are certain humour aspects that other Europeans just wouldn’t understand.

    The whole Irish objection seems to me to be the word ‘British’ itself, rather than acknowledging any reality of their relationship within the Isles.

    I also find it amusing when listening to Northern Irish nationalist friends on the continent when describing parts of their culture with other continental Europeans. They would describe certain aspects as being a ‘UK-thing’, just to avoid using the dreaded ‘B’ word!!

    Anyway, my own opinion is that the future is of a global society with political barriers and borders becoming irrelevant worldwide. I also think excessive nationalism is a bad thing, and something of which there is far too much in Ireland from both sides of the divide. I look forward to the day when this becomes more obvious to the world at large…

  • Greenflag

    Good post and I tend to agree with almost all of your views .

    ‘The whole Irish objection seems to me to be the word ‘British’ itself, rather than acknowledging any reality of their relationship within the Isles.’

    This may be more a Northern Irish phenomenon than Irish -IMO. What you call the ‘whole Irish objection’ is I suspect the ‘nagging leftover’ of knowing that part of what is seen as Ireland is still under UK /British rule .

    In the absence of the latter I doubt if anybody would bother being bothered if you catch my drift 🙂

  • Oisin31, ‘Republic of Ireland’ continued in UK legislation long after 1998: Housing Regulations, 2006

  • Paul

    GreenFlag: “The whole Irish objection seems to me to be the word ‘British’ itself, rather than acknowledging any reality of their relationship within the Isles.’

    This may be more a Northern Irish phenomenon than Irish -IMO. What you call the ‘whole Irish objection’ is I suspect the ‘nagging leftover’ of knowing that part of what is seen as Ireland is still under UK /British rule .”

    Actually, I base that opinion on many discussions I have had with a couple of friends from Meath! I see it more as being due to the Republic’s gain of independent sovereignty – one analogy being a bit like of a teenager growing up and asserting rebellious independence from their parents. People from Ireland also tend to be much more nationalistic than those from many other areas – perhaps a sign of insecurity.

    It is also a bit like in Switzerland – Switzerland is somewhere I feel that really lacks identity, with people being near identical to Germans, French, and Italians in their respective cantons. However, Swiss people are excessively nationalistic, with Swiss flags everywhere throughout the country, with the only real ‘Swiss’ characteristics IMO being a pretentious and pedantic sense of ‘Swiss’ superiority over their neighbours, and an ability to declare themselves ‘neutral’ as they simply wouldn’t be possible for them to actually agree a foreign policy amongst themselves!

    GreenFlag: “What you call the ‘whole Irish objection’ is I suspect the ‘nagging leftover’ of knowing that part of what is seen as Ireland is still under UK /British rule .

    In the absence of the latter I doubt if anybody would bother being bothered if you catch my drift 🙂 “

    If people and are more globally open-minded, then it should not matter who ‘rules’ where, as long as they are living in an open, tolerant, just and democratic society with adequate representation of all. I think the dual sovereignty on the island actually gives Ireland a greater diversity, which is also something that should be celebrated and not deplored.

  • happy lundy

    To repeat myself let’s stop obsessing about the next door neighbours and bring in some other friends into our island club.

    http://www.europarc-ai.org/

    Britain and Ireland; just two of “The Atlantic Isles”.

    How often do we need to use “The British Isles” anyway? It only saves one syllable on “Britain & Ireland” and “The Atlantic Isles” sounds ocean-going and sexier.

  • Oiliféar

    Paul:

    My genuine howling was saved for the unexpectedly “British” Icelanders and Faroe Islanders – not to mention the confused “Albanians” on the neighbouring island – that would follow your insistence that we should use “original meaning of ‘British’” (hint: continue reading the clause indicated by the phrase “as surprised as I am”).

    Having spent a couple of year living and working on the Continent also, I agree largely with the sentiment of your second post, but are you really surprised that “the whole Irish objection seems to me to be the word ‘British’ itself”? Why should rejecting that word mean not “acknowledging any reality of their relationship within the Isles”? That term, to me at least, and I suspect others as well, represents an outmoded relationship, one that does, and never did, not recognise the reality of our relationships. The purpose of words is to indicate meanings. I reject the word “British” to describe the relationship between the people of these island because, to me, that word does not indicate the genuine nature of that relationship.

    Again, this does not indicate that I reject the reality of our relationship. It indicates that I reject a contrived and outmoded imaging of our relationship. It was only when living on the Continent that I recognised this.

    Star of the County Down:

    The only name of the state in English is “Ireland”. The only name of the state in Irish is “Éire”. This was clarified by the Supreme Court in Ellis v O’Dea (1989).

  • Paul @ 06:11 PM;

    Good grief! What’s this? It could even be an original take on an age-old sore topic:

    People from Ireland also tend to be much more nationalistic than those from many other areas – perhaps a sign of insecurity.

    It is also a bit like in Switzerland – Switzerland is somewhere I feel that really lacks identity, with people being near identical to Germans, French, and Italians in their respective cantons. However, Swiss people are excessively nationalistic, with Swiss flags everywhere throughout the country…

    Let me stick with that point a moment. All across the US I experience the same as Paul describes of the Swiss: a lot of flag-flying and “My Country ’tis of Thee”, yet in reality little awareness of much beyond the state-line. That does not deny the consciousness that the real power is in Washington, which is as remote as the Land of Oz, and (fortunately) not on everyone’s back on a day-to-day basis.

    Similarly, I remember a slight sense of shock in west Cork about 1960-61: a cottage with pictures of Pius VI (naturally), JFK and his missus (understandable) and a young and regal Lizzie Windsor (huh?). That did not detract from the “Irishness” of the man-of-the-house (who had, reputedly, been “out” in the original Troubles).

    For such and similar reasons, I cannot take this thread seriously. Most of us are post-nationalists, looking as much to Europe as an entity as anything else. We may not have those blue-and-gold flags in any quantity, but we know where the power lies (even the English may eventually wake up to this). We appreciate that the days of banging tin-drums for petty nation-states have passed.

    All that, of course, will not stop us (from either or any community) knowing which side right, truth and justice are on at Twickenham on 15th March.

  • Paul

    Oilifar: “That term, to me at least, and I suspect others as well, represents an outmoded relationship, one that does, and never did, not recognise the reality of our relationships. The purpose of words is to indicate meanings. I reject the word “British” to describe the relationship between the people of these island because, to me, that word does not indicate the genuine nature of that relationship.”

    I actually agree with you – my point is that both the words ‘British’ and ‘Irish’ suffer from the same problem. – they are both highly ambiguous words and have a multitude of meanings depending on whom you talk to.

    I offer 2 possible solutions:

    1. My preferred solution. Language is a flexible thing and languages naturally change meaning over time. As crazy as it seems, unionists should embrace the word ‘Irish’, and nationalists (including in the south) ‘British’. Over time any such negative connotations should erode. The UK should not have a monopoly over ‘British’ and Republic of Ireland over ‘Irish’. Admittedly I see little willpower that will come from those in the Republic on this issue, given their independence and former history of rebellion, but we can try – it would actually show a sign of post-independent Irish confidence rather than insecurity.
    2. Scrap both the words ‘British’ and ‘Irish’ from the dictionary entirely and replace them with clearer alternatives. This is unrealistic and would only work and be fair if both words were altered at the same time.

  • HeadTheBall

    “but we know where the power lies” (Malcolm Redfellow)

    Since we again have Continental overlords, as in Norman times, what price the Norman: “Isles of Outremer” for the whole archipelago?

  • HeadTheBall @ 10:35 PM:

    The Isles of Outremer. Nice one.

    Except, I reckon one of the few links between “Outremer” and what Norman Davies terms “The Isles” (which is good enough a term for me) is the nickname for Louis IV of France (who grew up in England).

    For most of my history “Outremer” were the Crusader kingdoms in the Levant: not a good precedent (when did the “Near East” become the “Middle East”, by the way?).

    And, anyway, the term has already been nobbled by the French, who refer to the French overseas territories (those fly-specks on the map on the Euro-notes) as départements d’outre-mer et territoires d’outre-mer. Sorry, but I’ll pass on Sarkosi as my seigneur.

  • Oiliféar

    Paul,

    I see where you’re going but think you are being a little heavey handed in laying responsibility solely on the Republic. Such a change in understanding of the meaning of “British” would necessarily involves will from the larger island also. There is no point in the people of this island concocting new ideas of what it is the be “British” without a similarly spirited change in the understanding from the people of the larger island (or at least informing them of their new role for the sake of politeness!). That is not be forthcoming, I believe.

    What (all) the people of this island do have a monopoly on, however, is the term “Irish” and I think that the concept of multiple “Irishnesses” is now quite firmly rooted in the ‘top end’ of commentators on identity on this island. Dev’s comely maidens are long and truly dead; “Irish” is an umbrella identity, on a par with “British”.

    Building from this, a vision that I would have is for a mutual identity of “British-Irish”, whether one is from this island or the neighbouring one; but that too would require will to do so to be forthcoming from across the channel. That will, however, I believe can be ‘pushed’ by re-inventing “Irish” ourselves and ‘pushing’ a new vocabulary over these islands. That is why I support such terms as “British-Irish Isles” and “Britain and Ireland” to describe these islands (and their people) – in order to drum home that this is a shared space, while emphasising that “Ireland” and “Irish”, on a par with “Britain” and “British”, is also a shared space/identity, and not necessarily exclusive.

    In the mean time, I am an Insular European. I come from the Islands. They are European islands. One is called Britain. The other is called Ireland. (Hopefully, we can “de-capitalize” that “other” in time, though that is not a sole venture.) Like Corsica and Sardinia, the archipelago I come from does not have a name per se, but like Corsica and Sardinia is known simply by it’s members viz. Britain and Ireland.

  • The Dubliner

    Prince Eoghan, Dewi is a lost cause. He’ll go with whicher is deemed nicer: republicanism or monarchy. 😉

  • The Dubliner

    “For such and similar reasons, I cannot take this thread seriously. Most of us are post-nationalists, looking as much to Europe as an entity as anything else. We may not have those blue-and-gold flags in any quantity, but we know where the power lies (even the English may eventually wake up to this). We appreciate that the days of banging tin-drums for petty nation-states have passed.” – Malcolm Redfellow

    It’s interesting how much of the old propaganda is being turned around and used against the old propagandists. It used to be the case that Irish nationalists tried to convince British nationalists (Unionists) that they were really Irish in order to persuade them that Ireland is a nation state and that Irish people have a right to self-determination and that there future lay within an independent and sovereign Ireland, but now that is reversed to British nationalists attempting to convince Irish nationalists that they are really British in order to persuade them that that Ireland is not a nation state and that the Irish people do not have a right to self-determination, and that not only does the future of British nationalists not lie within an independent and sovereign Ireland but the future of Irish nationalists doesn’t lie within it either! To this end, they cannot simply declare that Article 1 of the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights should be considered null and void, so they talk in terms ‘parity of esteem’ and ‘shared future’ etc when what is really meant is a rejection of self-determination in favour of de facto re-colonisation by a foreign nation.

    Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The nation state, wherein a people “freely pursue” their own destiny, is the territorial entity by which a validated claim to self-determination is realised. The people in this case are the Irish people and the territorial entity is Ireland. Those who are the British people already have a validated claim to self-determination (an entity called ‘Great Britain’ already exists) and there is no provision for two nation states in international law. So, the reality of the absurd request that is now being made is that Irish renounce their right to self-determination and their nation state and replace it with an entity that is acceptable to British nationalists.

    Two ethnic groups with two competing claims to self-determination cannot share one territory, since there cannot be two nation states within one territory: one group must either renounce its claim or be defeated in its claim for the other group to legitimately occupy the territory. Indeed, the definition of self-determination means that a group has territorial sovereignty and may form armies to defend its border from transgression, so it specifically excludes two valid claims, making that concept an utter nonsense. That is the universal reality of it.

    The bind for northern post-nationalists is that they were manipulated into voting for an international treaty which renounced their right to self-determination while their political leaders told them that accepting the legitimacy of Northern Ireland was “a transition” to an united Ireland rather than a rejection of their claim to a united Ireland. Their political leaders lied to them about that because it served their own selfish interests to do so. So, the bind is do they accept that a gross deceit was perpetrated on them and reject the GFA or do they now accept that they have no right to self-determination whatsoever, as they voted? If they don’t reject the GFA, then they must accept that they are post-nationalists. And if they accept that they are post-nationalists, then why do they want a united Ireland? There will be no difference, theoretically, between Northern Ireland as it is now and a united Ireland. The only difference would be that Ireland is re-colonised by British rule. If the GFA is a blueprint for harmonised relations between British nationalism and Irish nationalism, then why is Northern Ireland as deeply dysfunctional as it ever was? If the underlining dysfunctional dynamics have not been resolved by the GFA, then why should the most successful country in Europe convert itself into a replica of the most lamentable statelet in Europe? You only have to cast a weary glance to see how the GFA’s Utopian promise of a “shared future” translates within NI: it means censorship, parity of contempt.

  • The Dubliner

    Continued:

    There is no purpose to unity in terms of the nationalism since the GFA imposes a binding legal obligation, post-unity, on the government of the unified entity to act with “rigorous impartiality” between Irish nationalism and British nationalism. In effect, British nationalism will have a veto over Ireland, requiring it to promote British nationalism on a mandatory parity basis. A government that is partial to Irish nationalism, the default value of the Irish nation state, is not a government that is ‘rigorously impartial’ – and just about every decision it tries to make will end up in the courts, leading to economic, political, cultural and social ruin before the majority get seek of appeasing British nationalists and revert to democracy and self-determination, leaving the then despised British nationalists scrambling for the boat to England. So, alas, while the GFA and its terms which seek to make British nationalists joint-rulers of Ireland, subjugating Irish nationalism to Her Majesty’s interests, may seem it merely causes Northern Ireland to annex the Republic of Ireland, the reality will be devastating for all sides. Unity on those terms would suit the British government: they would save billions per year in subvention costs with an Irish economy crippled by the cost and by a government tied up in the courts on every second decision and have a pro-British colonial outpost to guard the Atlantic backdoor; and if it didn’t work out, Ireland would still be ruined so England would be a better choice for foreign investment. In terms of stifling the competition, it’s win-win.

    And just as the old propaganda about identity is being turned around, so too is the purpose of removing the border. The old republican order was to remove the border to unite Ireland under an Irish nation state, independent and sovereign, realising the right of Irish nationalists north of the border to self-determination, but the new post-nationalist order is to remove the border in order to render Ireland into a non-nation-state and united the island under de facto British rule. To say that Irish nationalism north of the order is controlled by the British and moving to promote a pro-British agenda would be obvious to northern post-nationalists if it weren’t for the emotional whack they would suffer if they were to be cognitive of how royally they have been screwed by those who used them only as bargaining chips to secure their own power. Now, deluded and betrayed, they see removing the border as the end in itself, having lost all sight of it being a means to an end or what that end originally was. The end was removing British rule from the north of Ireland, not extending it to the south of Ireland.

    So that’s the advantage of promoting the less principled to leadership within northern post-nationalism: the less principled they are, the more susceptible to being controlled by bribery and underhanded manipulation. The other advantage in a propaganda war is that those who were seen as extreme can promote facto sell-outs and capitulation and their endorsement of the pro-British agenda will be seen by their naive supporters as being the hard-line extreme position of Irish nationalism – which would, they wrongly assume, not promote anything that was to its own extreme detriment.

    You are also wholly deluded about Europe. Europe does not signal the death of the nation state. Europe is an attempt to engineer a socialist nation state. In time, just as it now has its name on your passport, it will be the only name on your passport. It will have its own constitutional, army, one government, etc – and will get involved with war and trade disputes as a nation state. And as a nation state, it will still be small fry, with most of the world’s people living outside of it. Step-by-step is Europe’s way as they steal sovereignty and independence from nation states, And as they do that without debate and without democracy, take note of the contempt in which they hold both. Take note also that the people of nation states will not take kindly to Europe’s contempt for Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or for national government being relegated to the role of a local council or for decisions being made for them by unelected others and not by the people. All socialist states fail in time. Europe will not be an exception.

    And back to NI: folks who made an utter mess out of one society would be well advised not to proffer advice on how to engineer the perfect society to others. If they do, they should have the good grace to smile as they do so. 😉

  • Ching Chong

    Happy year of the rat. The Dubliner’s essay should be read in conjunction with the social engineering of immigration, illegal Chinese immigration included. This most recent plantation is to weaken the Irish identity and to infer that we are all – Siptu officials, Romanian criminal fraternities and Chinese hookers – New Irish. God save the Queen as Clash sang.

  • Oiliféar

    Dubliner, nice rant, but contradictory even at the most cursory level for all its pretty language (go leor trí Bhéarla freisin mar an géillsineach mhaith ab ea thú!).

    You say that the GFA nullifies Irish nationalism at present within the British state. Yet, you claim that the same obligations will subjugate the Irish state to British nationalism post unification. Why do you not think that these same obligations subjugate the British state to Irish nationalism now?

    It’s get funnier:

    “… Europe is an attempt to engineer a socialist nation state.”

    One that is constitutionally (oh, wait … we can’t call it that!) bound to liberal capitalism? That one had me rolling around.

  • Dewi

    Olifar – Dubliner is a master of dialectic by which he resolves his contradictions in many strange manners. He used to do good one-liners though!

  • Dub

    The Dubliner,

    I recently pointed out to you on another thread that as far as i can see the obligation on a post unity sovereign irish state would be to promote parity of esteem merely in the territorial area currently comprising northern ireland. I may well be wrong here, could you please direct us to that part of the text of the gfa which supports your view that this obligation would apply in the whole of the national territory?

    You also say that the historical role republicanism in relation to the six counties was to get rid of british rule in order to facilitate northern nationalists’ right to self determination… surely it was to facilitate the right to self determination of the whole irish people?

    the competing legal claims on the island since partition have been the legal claim of the irish nation state to sovereignty over the whole island, the expression of the irish people’s right to national self determination in the whole island, and the claim of Westminster to supreme sovereignty over every person and thing in northern ireland.

    you seem to allot these competing claims to subsets of the irish people in the partitioned area, which i find bizarre.

    It was the irish nation state which modified articles 2 and 3 of our constitution, not northern nationalists… you take out your spleen on the wrong target. That they have been royally screwed is beyond doubt, but the agency of that screwing lies in Dublin.

    By the way, i am also not certain that they have been royally screwed in the way that you say… i personally believe that the right of the whole of the irish people on the whole of the island has been preserved in irish law.

    If they have been screwed then we have all been screwed… and the fault on this island lies with the ruling class of your beloved irish nation state.

  • [aside]Malcolm, I think you might like this one.

    There’s a fund raising religious concert in the Kingdom of Moyle later this month.

    Proceeds to Reaching the Unreached Ministries and the Ulster Unionist Party

  • happy lundy

    Do we think Unionists would seek to maintain the GFA/SAA set-up in a United Ireland?

    As likely a scenario might be that Unionists in Antrim and Down would be more than happy to take ministerial positions through coalition in an all-Ireland Dail (especially if they get to play with helicopters like Bertie does) whilst dominating local government through old fashioned majoritarianism in the two County Councils where 80% of their electorate live.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “There’s a fund raising religious concert in the Kingdom of Moyle later this month.”

    Talking of concerts, how are those old Ulster favourites doing, does anyone know?

    Remember the lovely wee girl Rose Marie, then there was the impressive Gene Stewart and Hugo Duncan and not forgetting Philomena Begley!

  • Thank you, Nevin @ 11:01 AM, I feel a lot better for that news.

    Now, can I opt to stay “unreached”? Is there a box I can tick?

    I know I’ve used this story before, but I still like it:

    Some years back we took my youngest to the Causeway. The lady in my life insisted on a walk along the cliff path: I am acrophobic, and was in a somewhat perturbed state after teetering along 200ft beetling precipices. I was therefore trailing a bit back as we returned to the car-park.

    At that moment a very large, very black, very shiny, very well-upholstered Mercedes pulled up. The chauffeur (no less) released from the back seat a gentleman matching the car in hue and physiognomy.

    Said gentleman was greeted by one whom I assumed to be the Warden.

    I overheard:
    Gentleman (Oxford accent): There must be a lot of culture round here.
    Warden (good Ulster voice): Nah! It’s mostly country-and-western.

    Well, I liked it. Your distance may vary.

  • Aaron M

    The rest of that website is full of great science fiction short stories and stuff like that. I’ve been reading it for a few months. I saw that diagram before on his site. It’s clear he’s got a grasp of the complexities involved if you read the whole page; some of the individual sentences look wrong on their own however.

    Is there a similarity between the following questions?
    1) Are Canadians American?
    2) Are Unionists Irish?

    My interpretation is that the above two are obviously true, but are simplistic and therefore can be confusing. When people hear ‘American’ they usually think of the US.

    On the other hand, when Brits hear ‘Irish’ they include Unionists too. We’re all Paddies over here in their eyes.

    Do this mean that Unionists are more Irish than Canadians are American?

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    I thought Unionists were British, well so they keep telling the rest of us.

  • Oiliféar

    Gréagóir,

    Roll in Ali-G. (“So, is you on ‘olidays, den?”)

    Aaron,

    Tough questions. I would bunch Canadians among North Americans to avoid that confusion, and refer to no-one from Nunavut to the South Sandwich Islands, as American except those that are citizens of the USA. (More difficult again would surely be whether to call someone from Greenland – American? North American? European? Danish? Greenish?)

    Is it necessary to avoid those confusions in the British-Irish environment? There are plenty of people who call themselves English, but no English state. I don’t think that identity here is necessarily linked to a state in the same was as Canada/USA. How do unionists out there answer the question, “Are you Irish?”

  • Dewi

    I got a row in a Niagara Falls gift shop (Canada) when I said I was going back to America – The shop lady told me “You are in America now”

  • Oiliféar

    Dewi, she should have told you to f- off back to England 🙂 !

  • Dewi

    “More difficult again would surely be whether to call someone from Greenland – American? North American? European? Danish? Greenish?”

    Inuit usually does the trick…….