Deciding to be Irish

6 May

Donal’s job transfer from the London office to Dublin seemed ill -advised and badly timed. This was Ireland in the mid-1980’s. The Government was up to its neck in debt. Unemployment stood at 18 per cent and Draconian rates of income tax were inflicted on those fortunate to have a job.

‘You’re mad! Why would you want to go back now? The country is on its knees!  I’ll go back myself someday, but not now.’

Donal was not deterred by these sentiments. His resolve was rock solid, the legacy of several beautiful summers spent on and near his grandfather’s farm in County Cork. This experience had caused him to view Ireland through rose-tinted glasses. His ready-made answer went along the lines of:

‘If every ex-pat Irishman who said “I’ll go back to Ireland someday” actually went back, there’d be about 40 million people living there. I’m prepared to pay the price for living in Ireland right now. Indeed, I’m happy to do so if that price keeps you fair-weather Paddies out of the place!’

He could understand why his Irish-born friends were perplexed by this London-born Irishman’s demonstration of fearless but naïve enthusiasm for Ireland. However, for Donal a holiday or an occasional business trip would never be enough. Dublin was where that he was destined to carry out the day-to-day business of living.

The vast majority of his London work colleagues, on the other hand, did understand his reasons for moving. They saw him as Paddy the Irishman, a moniker with which he was quite happy. He knew that in the Dublin office he would probably be known as John the Englishman, but this did not bother him. He would quickly set about convincing all who cared to listen that his credentials were sound.

‘You guys just woke up one morning and realised that you were born Irish – I had to decide to be Irish and then work at it!’

This is an edited extract from the book “London Irish Dublin English”. You can buy the ebook or printed version on Amazon.

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