Breda Dunne, An Intelligent Visitorís Guide to the Irish (Mercier 1990), 96pp, notes, bibl.

The reality is, however that by the end of the colonial period the Irish were no longer in any real sense the Gaelic people we had been 300 years before. Neither genetically nor culturally were we the Gaels of the seventeenth century. Intermarriage during the intervening centuries with English and scottish planters, soldiers and other non-Irish who found themselves on this island had certainly introduced a lot of English and Scottish blood into the old Gaelic and Norman-Gaelic families. The old Gaelic culture had taken a hammering from the English culture which by the end of the nineteenth century had managed to establish a firm hold among the Gaelic-Irish. But even though our ancestors had adopted the English language and many aspects of English culture they still remained a very distinct people and their culture remained in many critical areas and aspects Gaelic in nature. One could say that what had taken place over th centuries was the gradual fusion of two groups of people and two cultures. The end result was a ‘new’ people and a ‘new’ culture—a ‘new Anglicised Gaelic people and culture—neither Gaelic or Engish, but a unique blend of the two. [PARA] Many influential leaders within post-independence society did not accept this reality. And many continue to operate on the basis of being the Irish of a Gaelic people, still maintaining that we need to go back to our old Gaelic culture and way of life. When viewed against this background is it any wonder that e irish are a bit confused about our identity! We have been fed on an image of ourselves based on a myth which deep down we know is not true but which we have done very little to repudiate. [13-14]

‘[W]illingness to pander to localism possibly on the increase’, see Tom Garvin, ‘Change and the Political System’, in Unequal Achievements—the Irish Experience 1957-82, ed. Frank Litton (Dublin 1982).

‘in business, science … etc., the vast bulk of our thinking is derivative’, see Seán Ó Tuama, in ‘The Gaelic League Idea’, quoted in Desmond Fennell, The State of the Nation—Ireland since the Sixties (Dublin 1983).

The critical point is that we Irish have no need for an identity crisis. Quite the reverse—very few groups of people are more distinct! [26] … given a bum steer by zealous but misguided leaders … [26]

Peasants view ‘their social economic and natural resources—their total environment—as one in which all the desired things in life, such as land, wealth, love, power, etc., exist in finite quantities.’ George Foster, ‘Peasant Society and the Image of the Limited Good’, quoted in J Raven, CT Whelan, et al., Irish Political Culture (Dublin 1976)

O’Connell: O’Faoláin believed him to be ‘practical, utilitarian, unsentimental’, and thus ‘a far more appropriate model for twentieth century Ireland, than any figure drawn from the sagas or the mists of Celtic antiquity’; ‘Benthamite, English-speaking and philosophical about the loss of Gaelic … a figure to inspire a new Ireland.’ Cited by Terence Brown, in Ireland: A social and cultural history 1922-85 (London 1987), pp.156-57.

Willingness to ‘change the language of the folk-museum for that of the market-place’, see FSL Lyons, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland 1890-1939 (OUP 1982), p.8.

‘To lose your native tongue, and learn that of an alien, it the worst badge of conquest. To have lost entirely the national language is death’; note that the quote contines from here, ‘, the fetter has worn through.’ Cited in Dunne as Thomas Davis, ‘The National Language’ [sic], from Arthur Griffith, Thomas Davis—The Thinker and Teacher (Dublin 1914), p.55.

Hyde: ‘It has always been curious to me how the irish continue to apparently hate the English, and at the same time continue to imitate them … In the absence of developing our own identity, language and culture, we will become a nation of imitators, lost to the power of native initiative and alive only to second-hand assimilation.’ Necessity &c., quoted in Lyons, Culture and Anarchy (1982), p.42.

‘drab, respectable, dead’, see Francis Stuart, Things to Live For’, quotd in FSL Lyons, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland (OUP 1982), p.171.

Devious methods … Compromise smacks of weakness

Alfred Nutt, on the heterodox resources of Celtic religion: ‘when dealing with powers so capricious as those of natur, the wise man accepts all the help he can get, the saint may fail here, the fairy there, the witch in the third case, and where one fails the other may succeed.’ See Nutt, ‘The Celtic Rebirth II’, Chp. XVII, p.204, in Kuno Meyer and Nutt, The Voyage of Bran and the Celtic Doctrine of Rebirth (London 1897).

Lee: ‘a cluster of historically conditioned reflexes continues to influence [the Irish] work ethic. From the Land Acts to the Common Agricultural Policy, many farmers have reaped a higher return from investment in politics than investment in agriculture.’ Joseph Lee, ‘Society and Culture’, from Unequal Achievements, ed. Frank Litton (Dublin 1982), p.10

Jordan: ‘the attempt to imagine another state of living, another way of being is, I believe, very Irish. It’s something to do with the quest for another place and another manner of thinking. It’ a dissatisfaction with the accepted and scientifically approved explanations of the universe.’ Neil Jordan, in Across the Frontiers—Ireland in the 1990s, ed Richard Kearney (Dublin 1988), p.198.

‘The great sea was coming on top of us and the strong wind helping it. We had but to send our prayer sincerely to God that nobody would be taken sick or ill. We had our own charge of that because there wasn’t a priest or doctor near us without going across the little strait and the little strait was up to three miles in length. But God was in favour with us, eternal praise to Him. For withmy memory nobody died without the priest in winter-time’. Peig Sayers, An Old Woman’s Reflections (Oxford 1987), p.198. and note trans. of Peig, the earlier work, by Bryan MacMahon.

Dunne cites as the chief failing of Irish managers their lack of strategic planning, and the chief strength their innate sense of politics.

BIBL. incl. Liam de Paor, ed., Milestones in Irish History, Thomas Davis Lectures (RTE/Mercier 1986); Robert Kee, Ireland—A History (London:abacus 1982); Caitlin Matthews, The Elements of the Celtic tradition (Dorset:Element Books 1989); Joseph Raftery, The Celts, Thomas Davis lecture Series (RTE/Mercier 1988); T. W. Moody & F. X. Martin, The Course of Irish History (Mercier 1988); Terence Brown, Social and cultural history 1922-1985 (1987); Sean Connolly, Religion and Society in Nineteenth Century Ireland, for Studies in Econ. and Soc. Hist., no. 3 (?Dundalgan 1985); Kevin Danaher, In Ireland Long Ago (Mercier 1962); J. J. Ireland 1912-1985, Politics and Society (Cambridge UP 1989); T. J. Barrington, The Irish Administrative System (IPA 1980); Kevin Boland, Under Contract with the Enemy (Mercier 1988); P, O’Farrell, How the Irish Speak English (Mercier 1980); P. W. Joyce, English as We Speak it in Ireland (Wolfhound rep. 1988); Charles MacCarthy, The Decade of Upheaval—Irish Trade Unions in the Sixies (IPA Dublin 1973)

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