Thursday, October 04, 2012

486. In Reply to a Letter from an English Friend

We don't hate the Brits, Ben. We used to, that's true, but we don't any more. They seem to get along pretty well with us, too, much better than, say, with the modern-day Scots! The divorce - politically speaking - has been decisive and complete, apart from the dispute over the kids in Norn Iron and even that has been levelled down thanks to the IRA campaign, although nobody will admit that was the real reason. Terrorists!! Local boys (and girls) if you want to know the truth. The Queen could finally come over after a hundred years, and she was very welcome. On the personal level the old antagonisms just don't exist any more. We still have the old songs, of course. They're great old songs, so no reason to throw them out! And we still have the Gaelic tradition - the poetry and sagas and what one might describe as our 'national' character  - going back to the early centuries, both BC and AD. This will never never die out and our very strong sense of place and all the multiple layers of our long and colourful history can still inspire the rising generations ... and people like me!

We have the national or more precisely, tribal, failing of falling in love with Ireland, the landscape, the people, the whole surrounding atmosphere, and although this is touching, I suppose, it is more than a little weird! Nobody who leaves Ireland can ever stop talking about it.

The most important thing is that we are a free country again, the only sensible and natural way in which the Irish can exist and openly deal with the world, and we are a relatively 'elderly' free country at that, in the sense that younger generations have no interest in how we broke the chains of oppression and simply take their freedom for granted. Overall, I think this is a good thing. Our people grow up this way and they think it is a human right and they can't understand why other countries don't have the same privileges. So a lot of our nurses and activists go over to Palestine to get shot at by Israelis .... because the Palestinians are the same as the Irish, man, 150-200 years ago!