What is the meaning of Irishness? Coleman at Large ?

Last week Marc Coleman exposed his narrow attitude to Irishness and
Irish people on the Show on Newstalk on Wednesday night. The Sunday
Times takes up the story thus “Marc Coleman, economics editor of
Newstalk 106, was drawn into many heated debates last week on Twitter after he said no symbol should be worn to commemorate the Irish people who died in the First World War.

“Our first duty is to honour the Famine and the 1916 Rising,” he said.
“When we have done that properly, we can begin the discussion of
wearing a white poppy to honour the Second World War, because that was a fight against fascism. The First World War was not our war.

“I’m perfectly happy to give space to those of a Protestant tradition who lost relatives in that battle, to let them wear a poppy. But nationalist Ireland must commemorate nationalism.”

It is precisley this type of argument that infuriates many Irish
people whose Roman Catholic relatives fought or died in the First
World War. For example Kathleen Villiers-Tuthill, an author and
historian from Clifden in Connemara, believes there has been a
concerted attempt to deny the service given by her father and two

“Coleman has just wiped me out of history” she said. “He has denied
my descendants. I’ve written a book about the Famine, I agree it
should be commemorated, but that doesn’t mean my family’s history
should be forgotten.”


Last Wednesday night, I was made angry by Marc but his views are
predictable and repeated regularly. Every country regularly is
regenerated by an influx of new people from abroad either in war or
peace. There is also a constant efflux of people to other places.
20,000 people plus left Ireland per year during the Celtic Tiger boom when each year got “boomier”. Pride of place and neighbourhood is a welcome feeling but is destructive when expanded into blind

Ireland has many strains of differing peoples with overlapping
cultures living on the island. Normans, Danes, Vikings, English,
Scots, Spanish and Portuguese all have settled here to varying extents over centuries. So what is Irish? Pretending that “Irish” is confined to one ethnic group and to a narrow subsection of that group is simply deluded.

GAA local rivalries are based on the English local government system
set up here. Irish self-government has a chequered history. The Ulster Plantation no more than the Norman invasions changed things forever.
The Normans and the Ulster Scots became Irish. They were born here and lived all their lives here. Ultimately, they breed with the local aboriginals who survive and life goes on. To me, the new Irish will breed with the natives and there will be Asian and African ethnic origin people playing sport for Ireland, representing Ireland in culture and writing and in politics.

So lets stop pretending that 1916 was something that it was not. The
Dubs in the trenches must have been less than impressed by the march
up the quays and the right turn up Sackville Street in 1916 than their descendants are to-day. The behaviour of the idiots shelling the place was in an era where the ruling classes arranged mass slaughter in the trenches in Belgium and France.

People have to forget and sublimate horrors to psychologically
survive.The coffin ships and the Hells Kitchens of the New World or
the trip to Van Dieman’s Land are all fresh in my school memory.

So narrow and blinkered views of Irishness and appropriateness of
commemorations of our differing national strains are a form of racism.
The Irish race is a mix of all sorts and this mix is widening by the
year with the immigration since 1997. I think that it is a wonderful

For Marc Coleman, Senator Mark Daly and other narrow nationalists,
what do they say to the Limerick Pogroms against Jews and the burning of houses of protestants and murder as ethnic cleansing in the first years of independence?

No No No! We must embrace our differences and respect humanity. Narrow nationalism equating “Irish” with Catholic, White, Fainne-wearing cupla focal merchants, GAA-playing Fianna Failers is the road to blind bigotry.

Standing up against discrimination like Daniel O’Connell or embracing “Catholic Protestant and Dissentor” like Wolfe Tone is the duty of the citizen of this island. I’m one of those citizens.