Hey we’re not British we’re Irish.

Tonight I read something and it made me smile, because on reading it I knew it would have really got the Irish going. What did I read? I read this 20 best British and Irish novels of all time. Why you may wonder would that upset a nation, well when it was first printed it read “British novels” with no reference to “Irish novels”. Listed were James Joyce, Flann O Brien and John Banville, all very fine, famous, well known Irish writers.

Now there is nothing gets the Irish going faster than hearing of an Irishman being claimed by the British. It happens regularly and without fail it unites the nation.
Each year around the time of the Oscars, or BAFTAs we listen intently, waiting to take umbridge as our countrymen are “stolen”. The same is true during major sporting achievements, although this becomes a little more complicated as some of those who compete, such as Rory McIlroy in golf, come from northern Ireland, and declare themselves for Britain.

Despite our new polite and increasingly friendly relations between our two nations, including last weeks visit by our President to the British Queen, do not be fooled. Beneath the surface the Irish still have a “thing” against the British, most particularly the English. A rivalry and a will to beat them, and I have no doubt for some who live in England the feeling is mutual.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/martindo/10785821365/">M+MD</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Our modern relationship is complicated. We watch British television constantly, English is now our first language, many follow the young royals, British football teams, and many more move to Britain for work and are more than happy to stay there for many years or forever. Yet if the Irish team are competing in any sport, soccer, rugby, tiddly winks, whatever against England, the nation are as one in a giant Ireland v England moment.

So today when the Telegraph gave credit to three books placing them within the top twenty “British” novels of all time the country was suitably incensed. Old rivalries were relived and the country slipped into the old Us v Them mentality. How dare they?

Twitter went into meltdown and The Telegraph changed their title to read “20 best British and Irish novels of all time”.

That’s great all sorted you say. Wrong. Now the Irish want to know if it is the best British AND Irish novels how come they only chose three Irish novels?

You just can’t win against the Irish!

photo credit: M+MD via photopin cc

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21 thoughts on “Hey we’re not British we’re Irish.

  1. Whatever about the Irish-English thing, which is fascinating within itself, as Tommy Tiernan once said ‘As a modern Irish man, I love the English, I just want them to lose in sports and wars’ I’ve never understood how Samuel Beckett never manages to get on these lists. I’ve always felt he was a far better writer than Joyce.

    1. As with a lot of these lists I think they are just a way to fill space, although on this occasion I think they got more than they bargained. Now they have listed it as Best British and Irish but have not changed the list so how much thought really went into it.
      I remember the first time I read Becket in school, I had a less than average teacher and you could say it did not go down well. I’m only slowly recovering!
      Tommy Tiernans comment sums it up perfectly, much better than a post could.

    1. Ha ha. We sure are a cranky nation. I moved to Cork from Dublin and I can tell you they live up to their name “The rebel county”, as they love to fight and be upset at each other.

  2. As an English-Yank (I know for shame!). I’ve always had a sense of rivalry against my Irish classmates. Whether it was on the football pitch, or the classroom I would always try to one-up them. Sometimes I win and sometimes they win. In the end we ended up at a pub listening to the music, or if it wasn’t busy we’d break out our fiddles and start playing reels. 🙂

    1. So well summed up. We have an inherent rivalry towards each other but have no problem enjoying each others company.And I forgive you for being an English-Yank.

  3. OMG !!!

    Um Hee Hee – Sometime , you have to think twice about commenting Tric but ?

    As an English person , married to an Irish Women – living in Kilkenny for 10 years, English/irish background , Sister married to an Irishman both living in Manchester(UK) , this Nationally thing (OMG)!!

    To many we are Irish , to some we are English – to us we are both !!

    Maybe they should have just said (20 best Novels BY xxxx !) 😉 🙂

    I lived in Manchester and London for sometime before here Tric, It is confusing Half the none National people take offence if you say they are not British , Half if you say they are not from the one many nations they came from. You have to ask maybe !!!

    Maybe its time to just say we are European as the Americas many times say we are.

    Sometime you just, just are not going to Win !!!!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. Ha ha. I am so glad you did comment. The whole nationality thing is mad alright, especially in your situation.
      I can imagine the atmosphere in your house when we take you on in Soccer and Rugby, almost as bad as living in a mixed marriage house on all Ireland day when Cork play Kerry! 🙂

  4. another thing the Scots and Irish have in common !

    well, two more things – we love to beat the English at football or rugby.

    and nothing gets our goat so much as English commentators describing Scottish sportsmen and sportswomen as British when they win an event and Scottish when they lose

  5. P.S. – O.K., lets be brutally honest, Scots like to see anyone beat the English 😆

    during the last World cup, newspapers in England were full of stories about treacherous Scots not supporting the England team – with some pubs in Scotland offering free pints of beer to their customers every time a player from a country playing against England scored a goal against them 😆 😆

    1. We should have united years ago! Mind you we had to have a rebellion and a civil war before we almost got independence, you Scots waited and will get more than we did with a referendum and no loss of life!
      Who would we give out about and blame for so much if we didn’t have the English in our lives?

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