3 January 2007

I'm half Irish

An evening in the Canbury Arms listening to impromptu Irish music has got me thinking about nationality, and if you believe in John Bull you had probably better stop reading now.

I find nationality to be odd concept. I was born in England and have lived here all my life. If you read my profile on the right you'll see that I am very proud to be from Leeds and Yorkshire. But my support for England is less strong.

As I write this, I am listening to fifth cricket test match between England and Australia and I am definitely cheering for England.

However, when the Rugby Union season starts I'll be cheering for Wales and will be wearing my Welsh rugby shirt with pride. My Dad is Welsh and I was brought up in the 70s with the great Welsh rugby side and all that went with it, e.g. Max Boyce.

My Irish side comes from Mum (pictured). My Irish heritage manifests itself in politics rather than sport and, as a general rule, I support the Catholic nationalists against the Protestant unionists. I also like Irish music having been sung to sleep with it for years. Mum loved the songs and could remember every word of every one of them. Though, be Irish, the words often had more import than they seemed to and I remember one evening in a pub in Richmond upon Thames where the Irish band that we had gone to see sang one set of words and Mum another. Mum's version of the song was the Catholic one. In Richmond that was amusing, in Northern Ireland things like that got people killed.

So far I've explained why I'm English, Welsh and Irish but I usually think of myself as European. By that I mean that I think of all of Europe as my home land and I don't (apart from cricket) hope that England, or Britain or the UK, succeeds at the expense of another part of Europe.

I'm English, Welsh, Irish and European, all at the same time, and so nationality has little meaning for me and I find it very hard to understand the "my country, right or wrong" crowd. Sadly that's quite a large crowd.

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