On the Irish Republic’s thin grasp of Irish geography…

“When I was at school…” was always a presage to my mother telling me some obvious truth about the spellings or the sums I’d just got wrong for the millionth time… Later when we did geography at school we learned our Irish geography from a book that had been coincidentally written by a teacher at the local state grammar… Provinces, counties, rivers, mountain ranges, county towns… Now it seems in the last ten to fifteen years the people in the southern state have been slowly excising the mad old uncle from its memory: “The North, as far as Dublin was concerned, was the attic in which the mad old uncle might be allowed to drink himself to death.”: O’Neill links this priceless piece from Squinter:

Squinter called the RTE press office and an interesting conversation ensued, which is probably best understood in its raw and unedited form (preamble excised)…

Squinter: Yes, you see, I was just wondering what exactly RTE means when it bandies the word Ireland about.

RTE: Ireland? Why, we mean Ireland, of course.

Squinter: All of it?

RTE: What do you mean?

Squinter: Well, if you try to access The Panel in Belfast the message says ‘Only available in Ireland’.

RTE: And?

Squinter: Belfast’s in Ireland.

RTE: No it’s not.

Squinter: Well, where is it?

RTE: Britain?

Squinter: No.

RTE: The UK?

Squinter: Well, yes, but it’s also in Ireland.

RTE: How can that be?

Squinter: Because Ireland’s not a country, it’s an island.

RTE: Are you sure?

Squinter: Yes.

RTE: Click. Brrrrrrrr.

Cultural psychosis, it seems, is everywhere these days

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  • El Paso

    Dear Mick,

    When, in the name of God, will you take the trouble to present a headline which reflects the content of your “piece”. The geographically challenged party described above is the bould Mr Squinter. So why substitute him with Ireland in the Banner?

  • TwilightoftheProds

    It never, never ceases to amaze me how the bold Squinter repeatedly strolls into the politcal and cultural propellers. Without fail. Time after time. Since 1937 the official name of the state to our hindquarters has been ‘Ireland’ or ‘Eire’ in Irish. The designation ‘Republic of Ireland’ is simply the ‘description of the state’ appended when Ireland withdrew from the Commonwealth. Check out all the little name tags in front of Irish delegates at international institutions like the UN and EU- ‘Ireland’ nothing else. I would guess that old Squinter would like to unite with this state, but politeness, and some grasp of Irish history and sovereignty, should prompt him to get the name right. Although given the Squinting one has felt the wrath of Big Bearded Brother, perhaps he should just refer to the place as Andytown Airstrip Two.

    Meanwhile Montrose chuckles at the hick nordies. Nice one, Squinter!

  • Mark McGregor

    It has annoyed me too, especially when trying to get the stream of international matches only to discover RTE tell me I don’t live in Ireland.

  • Mick Fealty


    I think you’re stretching way beyond your own comfort zone to find a legitimate criticism there…

  • Eh sorry lads. Ye are not in “Ireland”. The decider is the RTE licence fee. If ye don’t pay it, then no deal. Sorry lads.

    When you start paying though, you can call yourselves Irish.

  • Mark McGregor

    btw: if anyone can explain to me how I set a proxy IP (I have no idea what this means but supposedly it could work
    ) to convince RTE that my Antrim based PC is in Ireland and allow me to stream soccer I’ll owe you several pints.

  • Mark McGregor


    “Ye are not in “Ireland”. The decider is the RTE licence fee.”

    That’s a classic.

    The problem is a bad choice of words by RTE. Myself and Squinter are both in Ireland – Squinter even recognises his bit of Ireland is part of the UK. The problem is not every definition of Ireland excludes 6 counties.

    If they can’t stream to the north of Ireland for whatever reason, they should say it is due to the request coming from outside the coverage of the RTE licence fee. Dead easy. No one gets even more annoyed when they find they can’t get the programme they were desperate to see.

  • Ah Mark, you took the bait 🙂

    I take it you get equally annoyed when BBC iPlayer works perfectly?

    Sorry I’m just stirring it 🙂

  • doggybot

    Why so exercised?

    In years to come it may be that the Scots, whilst still living on the island of Britain and therefore British, will surely firstly describe themselves as Scottish.

    Descriptions of political identity and geography do not always sit comfortably with those people whose radar is finely tuned to seek out opportunities to be offended.

    A political entity can call itself whatever it chooses. Hence Ireland can quite properly call itself such whilst missing parts of the geographic reality of the island.

    The Mr McCawber political rule may be applied. Politically Irish and geographically Irish; result happiness. Geographically Irish and politically not-Irish; result unhappiness (perhaps).

  • Ri Na Deise

    Yer not missing much. The sooner theres a dedicated GAA channel only the better. I’ll never have to put with those West Brit D4 clowns on me telly again.

  • Check out, RTE live

    Ireland = 32 counties

    ROI = 26 counties

    Perhaps Squinter was speaking to someone as intelligent as himself …

    Mark, if you have a friend in the ROI perhaps they would send you a copy of the smil text file and you could bung it into the Real Player stand-a-lone. Might be worth a try.

  • Dec

    btw: if anyone can explain to me how I set a proxy IP (I have no idea what this means but supposedly it could work
    ) to convince RTE that my Antrim based PC is in Ireland and allow me to stream soccer I’ll owe you several pints.

    Try http://www.myp2p.eu for all your streaming needs

  • picador

    Bunreacht na hEireann – Article 2

    The national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas.

    RTE are talking out of their backsides.

    The Irish language content of their website is also rubbish. Sometimes the news on it is 3 days out of date.

  • Mark McGregor


    I don’t know what that means and I doubt any of my friends living in the occupied 26 counties would either. Can you explain a ‘smil text file’


    Thanks. If that works you should prepare a paypal account to accept pints.

  • Mick Fealty


    Not according to An tAcht um an Naoú Leasú Déag ar an mBunreacht, 1998…

  • Mark McGregor


    It says on the link that it no longer works. Thanks anyhow.

  • One system (blackdog?)doesn’t work but it might be worth trying the ROI route, Mark.

  • picador


    Fair point. As long as they give me a passport!

    First part of the reworded Article 2 says:
    It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish nation.

    They have got rid of any explicit mention of “national territory”. The amended constitution certainly does not say that Ireland consists of 26 counties so the petty-minded bureaucrats in RTE who came up with this one are a bunch of cretins IMHO.

    I lost my passport in Mexico a couple of years ago and had to go to the Irish embassy to get a replacement. The little mammy who greeted me asked in a condescending tone whether I was sure that my lost passport was Irish and not British.
    ‘Well if had been a British passport I’d lost I would now be standing in the British embassy, wouldn’t I?’ was the best I could muster.

  • … but seriously, folks!

    My in-box has just been hit with a major, 1300-word, survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit: The tiger tamed: Ireland’s economy faces three years of declining output [It may be necessary to sign up].

    The essential analysis is:

    Ireland’s economy is moving more deeply into recession, and recent data point to a widening of the slump. Retail sales figures have shown a deteriorating trend since the start of 2008, with sales volumes declining by 0.2% in the first quarter, by 4.5% in the second and by 5.7% in the third—data for August and September were the weakest in 25 years. Unsurprisingly, housing-related retail subsectors have been worst hit. In the year to August, sales volumes in the furniture and lighting category were down by 20%, while those of hardware, paint and glass were down by 14.2%. The most recent month for which comparable EU-wide retail sales data are available is July, when Ireland’s decline of 5% compared with an average fall of 0.5% across the EU and of 1.8% across the euro area.

    A wide range of factors have contributed to the weakening of consumer sentiment and activity, but a sharp downturn in the labour market is chief among them. The most recent definitive labour market data relate to the March-May 2008 period, when the rate of year-on-year employment growth had fallen to 0.3%. A less comprehensive, but more timely, indicator of labour market conditions is provided by the Central Statistics Office’s monthly Live Register release, which measures the number of people claiming employment-related benefits. In October 2008 there were 260,300 claimants on a seasonally adjusted basis, up by a mammoth 57.1% on a year earlier and by 6.5% on the previous month (the largest ever monthly jump in claimant numbers).

    While the increase in claimants is largely male (70%), suggesting that most job losses are still occurring in the male-dominated construction sector, the addition of 4,800 women to the claimant register in October was the largest such increase so far this year—pointing to mounting job losses elsewhere, and particularly in the services sector. The Live Register also provides a measure of the unemployment rate, which has risen sharply during 2008 from 4.8% in January to 6.7% in October. These figures compare with the most recent official unemployment rate of 5.1% recorded for the March-May period.

    From there the EIU predicts real GDP will fall 2.5% this year, 2.3% in 2009 and 0.5% in 2010. Exports will fall as the EU zone contracts (and may even turn negative).

    Beyond that we see the real reason for the vicious cut-backs in the last budget:

    A fiscal surplus of 3% of GDP in 2006 has turned into an estimated deficit of 6.5% of GDP in 2008, which on a comparative basis is by far the most rapid two-year decline of any euro area country since the single currency was launched. Ireland is now set to breach the EU’s general budget deficit ceiling (3% of GDP) by an even wider margin in 2009, when we expect a deficit of 8.9%.

    The Irish Government borrowing is the most expensive in the Eurozone, excepting only Greece. Furthermore:

    In early November the European Commission launched the excessive-deficit procedure against Ireland for its breaches of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) governing euro area members. It has previously found the management of Ireland’s public finances to be the weakest of some 18 EU member states and is thus likely to be critical when it reports to the Council of Ministers in February 2009. Given this and the magnitude of the deficits (the largest imbalance in the history of the bloc thus far was 7.8% of GDP in Greece in 2004), Ireland may become the first country to be threatened with the imposition of fines, as set out in the SGP.

    And all of that comes with the EIU caution: if it becomes necessary to recapitalise the Irish banking system (see several recent articles),

    our current forecast of three successive years of economic contraction could yet prove optimistic.

    On past experience, I will not be traduced for salaciously peddling West British propagandist bad tidings. Hey, I’m only the messenger, chaps.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    super thread

  • Mark,

    to convince RTE that my Antrim based PC is in Ireland and allow me to stream soccer I’ll owe you several pints.

    Bypass RTE and give these lot a shout on international nights. It’ll cost you three or four euros, but the coverage is pretty good and they won’t even ask you to prove your Irishness.


  • Along the same lines is the use of the term ‘Irish government’ for an administration which only has control over 13/16 of Ireland.

  • El Matador on Nov 21, 2008 @ 10:11 PM:

    Fair enough: perhaps you would, once again, guide us through the political semantics and propose a single acceptable alternative for our common intercourse. Then hope to get out alive.

    Don’t forget you need to address everything from the politics to the national sporting team, and come up with an all-embracing term. Which is why most of us use shorthands and jokey references. Curiously enough, that way we seem to achieve a modicum of communication.

  • Tazia Doll

    “I lost my passport in Mexico a couple of years ago and had to go to the Irish embassy to get a replacement. ”

    The Irish Embassy in Mexico, phoned me up, about Colombia,

    eejit that I am, I asked somebody to visit somebody else in jail.

    That was before Ruane went over, to that part of the world.

    It was before SF had owned up to knowing them.

  • Tazia Doll

    “A political entity can call itself whatever it chooses. Hence Ireland can quite properly call itself such whilst missing parts of the geographic reality of the island.”

    It took a lot for a Roman civil servant, to look at Britain, and scratch it out, so they didn’t.

    Even the east Romans, took their time about it.

    The KMT pensioners, in HK, one day their pensions stopped, and maybe they knew that the ‘Taiwanese’ had shafted them, so in their heads it stopped being the ROC, I dunno

    When does East Prussia become Russia, when the last Kraut falls on his face?

  • picador


    I must say that, aside from the faux pas I described above – the Irish embassy staff in Mexico were very helpful and got me a replacement passport within an hour of me filling out the appropriate forms.

    Apparently it is not unusual for the police over there to recognize only the Ireland when they see ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ on a passport and so the Irish embassy gets quite a few calls about British passports that have turned up. Not sure how many British citizens they get turning up on their doorstep looking for a replacement passport though!

    I miss my old passport very much as it had stamps from all across the globe on it and each one recalled a tale. It fell out of my pocket on the road between El Mazunte and San Pedro Pochutla in Oaxaca state. I still imagine it having an exciting existence in the hand of some narcotraficante. Who knows, I could be el hombre más busquedo en todo México right now.

  • dee regulation

    Mick, why are you dignifying that sectarian headcase’s ravings like this?

  • Mick


    Pick a ball and hit it hard. The rule here is include, not exclude, no matter how many lectures we get to the contrary.

  • Scott

    That is the 13/16ths that is in the First World.

  • boohoo

    don’t ya just love irish republicans?

    they seem to spend so much time avoiding the political reality; witness the verbal gymnastics that are indulged in to avoid using ‘Northern Ireland’ to describe (correctly) where some of them live.

    when they then collide with reality, as in this case with RTE, manufactured shock and offence follow.

    perhaps i’m being unfair and republicans truely believe that the world is as they see it. in that case i sympathize with the real hurt they must surely be feeling. damn those rte mandarins!

  • Yawn, yeah: so nothing new on this Slugger thread. Same old … same old …

    And yet, did someone, somewhere miss the trick?

    It isn’t entirely misplaced nationalistic nonsense. My guess is that RTÉ are as constrained as any other publisher or broadcaster by copyright, DRM, and the Chinese Army techniques of intellectual property lawyers.

    My “music to strip wall-paper by” used to come courtesy of internet radio on Pandora. Try it: they’ll tell you your IP address and why they can no longer supply the aural product. For the same reason, we have to buy our tracks (we do buy them, don’t we chaps?) at differential prices between different jurisdictions.

    On the other hand, there is the good hacker ethic:

    The belief that information sharing is a positive good, and it is the ethical duty of hackers to share their expertise by writing free software and facilitating access to information and to computing resources wherever possible.

    Source: Eric S. Raymond, The New Hacker’s Dictionary, third edition, page 234.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘My “music to strip wall-paper by”’

    Hilarious 🙂 the best one liner of the week .

    For some reason this one liner reminds me of Richard Burton’ss response to an American lady who was pleased to meet him while he was making a movie in Hungary on Lake Tata which movie included lots of Wagner , as well as an enormous swan made out of polystyrene which goes on fire and ascends to heaven . Niall Toibin the Cork born actor /comic relates the event as being a night time shoot -a lovely summers evening , very warm and pleasant . He does not recall being inebriated .

    The inevitable American tourist with camera arrived (Hungary had just opened for business) and introduced herself to various people none of whom could speak her language until she got near enough to Burton .

    ‘My God , Richard Burton ! Oh what a wonderful pleasure this is -to meet you .What a romantic life you’ve had , I don’t mean about your wives , but the romance of your travel the places you’ve been ‘

    Burton listened with patience and then he said ‘

    ‘Yes , I suppose you’re right. After all what other profession would afford you the opportunity of sitting in the warm moonlight with a drunken Irishman , on the shores of a Hungarian lake surrounded by hordes of howling Magyars , while a megalmaniac Englishman incites a bunch of demented Italians to incinerate a plastic swan ‘

    From Niall Toibin’s biography of stage and screen exploits in ‘Smile and be a Villain ‘

    Imagine had Burton been Northern Ireland Secretary 😉

  • Tazia Doll

    ‘I miss my old passport very much as it had stamps from all across the globe on it and each one recalled a tale. It fell out of my pocket on the road between El Mazunte and San Pedro Pochutla in Oaxaca state. I still imagine it having an exciting existence in the hand of some narcotraficante. Who knows, I could be el hombre más busquedo en todo México right now.”

    You’d have to work some to make the most wanted list.

    I had the same thing, with my passport, the little stamps proved where I had been, at a time when it was an effort to get there.

    ‘El Mazunte and San Pedro Pochutla’

    Is there oil there, I mean exploited

  • paul

    Also the word Ireland comes from an English word. English unified Ireland etc etc.

  • picador


    I am not aware of there being any oil exploitation in that part of Oaxaca. God forbid, because it is a lovely part of the world.


    Yes there is a credit crunch. I am fed up hearing about. I may be broke but I am still an Irishman!


    What has this got do to with republicanism? When did Belfast cease to be in Ireland? Why are RTE a bunch of dumbf**ks? Why do their presenters call it orr tee ee? Why do I receive stupid text messages saying ‘Welcome to Ireland if I go within a twenty mile radius of the border?’

  • paul @ 07:32 PM:

    the word Ireland comes from an English word

    Please go out and give a good kicking to whoever fed you that nonsense. That’s like saying “England” is straight from Aengelalonde (which, in one sense, it might be), without considering what the two elements involve.

    This is based on the Oxford English Dictionary being unable to define “Ireland”, except as a prize for Oxford undergraduates in Classics. On the other hand, Irish (which might have some connection to Ireland) appears before 1205 (that is, about three centuries before “modern English” was the common tongue). And, let’s not forget, Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1605) provided Paul Muldoon with the title of his published Clarendon lectures (1998), To Ireland I. Right, then, let’s separate the “Eriu” from the Germanic “land”, and see what we get.

    So, to the legend. And it’s so new-age they all want a bit of it.

    Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Milesians from Spain, who conquered Ireland from the Fir Bolg, had five sons (Glonn, Gnim, Coscar, Fiacha and Ollom) and six daughters — the three goddesses of Ireland (Ériu, Banba and Fodla) and the other three (Badb, Macha and the Mórrígan). The three goddesses were conveniently married to the three conquering Milesian kings, Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, and Mac Gréine. The goddess-wives prevailed upon their (doubtless, adoring) husbands to name the newly-conquered lands after them. The one that has stuck is Ériu.

    [N.B. that these legends seem disgracefully close to those of Celtic Britain should be ignored by all good patriots. Meanwhile the Brits should go away, and play with Geoffrey of Monmouth].

  • Greenflag

    Picador ,

    ”Why are RTE a bunch of dumbf**ks? ‘

    Because it’s a safe haven for Gilmore and the lefties of the former Official SF shower and later the ‘Worker’s Party’ . This shower are a bunch of hard core lefties bound up with SIPTU and others who think the State owes them a very good living at the expence of the rest of the economy .

    RTE’s news website is f***ing awful . Somebody made the point that the news is not updated sometimes for three days? Maybe the website closse down whenever somebody takes sick leave or goes on holiday or they have to wait for the SIPTU Union representative to approve the new ‘news ‘ format . It was revealing how in the last ‘idiot ‘ poll Mr Gilmore was judged to have been the ‘winner’ of all the country’s party leaders .

    They really need to upgrade their site.

  • Éire

    The name of the State in the Irish language is Éire. Eire means nothing.

  • ire @ 05:08 AM:

    Oh, yes it does:

    First, it’s a variant spelling of the pseudonym you use here.

    Refer to the Proverbs of Aelfred, number 205, in the Old English Miscellany (of around 1250):

    Monymon for his gold haueth godes eire.

    Second, it refers to the “Justices in eire” (more commonly rendered as “eyre”, the King’s justices on circuit. Hakluyt’s Voyages [1598] has:

    The Iustices in Eire, (or Itinerent, as we called them, because they vsed to ride from place to place throughout the Realme, for administration of iustice).


    Third, it’s a dialect form of “iron”.

    Fourth, or of “ear” (either the organ or the act of listening).

    All sanctioned by the Oxford English Dictionary. Don’t worry that somehow messing with the OED will West-Britify you: just remember what James Joyce and Flann O’Brien/Brian Nolan could do, punning on such words.

  • eranu

    the problem is that the ROI is incorrectly named. they have a right cheek assuming ownership of the word ireland for their state when their state does not cover all of ireland.
    they should insert another term like Southern infront of the Ireland bit in their name.

  • eranu

    its the ireland=republic of ireland that has brought us to rugby matches in belfast not being considered home games..

  • eranu

    forgot ‘mentality’ after republic of ireland. its the way them southerners are thinking these days…

  • RepublicanStones

    “they have a right cheek assuming ownership of the word ireland”

    Better than assuming ownership of the ACTUAL place though eh?

  • Tochais Si­orai­

    Were you disappointed that meant they couldn’t play Amhrán na bhFiann in Ravenhill? 🙂

  • Greenflag


    ‘just remember what James Joyce and Flann O’Brien/Brian Nolan could do, punning on such words.’

    [3:14 565.17] FW

    somewhere else’s before me in these ears still that now are for mine.
    Let op. Slew musies. Thunner in the eire.
    You were dreamend, dear. The pawdrag? The fawthrig?

    If ire is irate would that be sound of ‘thunner in the eire ? ‘ as JJ would say or scrib

  • eranu

    anythings better than that RS !

    nope TS, nobody wants to listen to that racket! the much talked about NI anthem (when it arrives) would be whats required in ravers.

  • Shirley McGuffin

    Why would anyone want to watch Eire play football? Thank your stars that thye cannnot currently impose their trip on you.

  • Mr Bowman

    Some people might think that northern Ireland referred to where Shay Given id from.