Irish? English? British? European?

Hey all!

Thought I would share another post with you all. This is a piece I wrote a while back about Irish and English, and in fact British, culture. Since moving to Berlin and having met people from all corners of the world, I have had to explain my nationality a lot! Maybe I was being naive but I was pretty shocked at the amount of people who did not know which countries the UK consisted of! Many more do not know the difference between northern and southern Ireland, therefore leading me to be labelled British a lot. As a matter of fact, even actual British people include me as one of their own in conversations with other those of other nationalities. Now I take no offence in this, but I know some people most certainly would. I just understand how similar our cultures are and the fact that we share a whole lot of traits! So in the light of my confusing nationality, there is no better way to discus Irish/English/British culture than here in my blog! Enjoy!

The history between Ireland and England has been long and turbulent. Whilst Ireland has not been occupied for many years now, the relationship between these two countries is still quite uneasy. Although there has been much effort put in place to build stronger bridges between Ireland and England, for example the Queens visit to Ireland earlier this year, citizens are not very friendly, or have very kind attitudes towards each other.

Perhaps the biggest reason for this is the history between the two countries. Without this becoming a piece based solely on historical conflict, there is quite a large group of Irish citizens who cannot forget what has happened in the past. Let it be clear here that when I refer to those who cannot forget the past I am not consigning such attitudes to those involved in terrorist groups, but also to those who see themselves as nationalists, as people who do not respect or like the English people or culture. They do not act physically on these opinions but feel strongly concerning the distinction between Ireland and England. Indeed they may be correct to a certain level. There are distinctions between the two countries when political dimensions or attitudes towards the European Union are taken into consideration. However, these differences are few and far between.

Studies conducted in recent years have argued thatbIreland and England are now not only similar on an intellectual or a cultural level, but also through genealogy which stems from hundreds of years ago. Historians have now claimed that the conviction that the Irish people came from the Celts and the English from the Anglo-Saxons is not entirely true. While yes, there are generations of English and Irish peoples who do stem from these groups, they now believe the majority of people have ancestral history coming from an unidentified group which dominated the areas for thousands of years. Therefore, they claim that given there is no significant genetic differences between the two groups, it is amazing the conflict and negativity which occurs.

Putting historical events aside, it is often hard to understand the negative stance Ireland has against England, or indeed vice versa, when they are compared on a more cultural level. Sport is a huge common feature between the two countries. While yes the GAA in Ireland is hugely popular and has a massive following, it seems that it is English football teams which are more broadly supported and it is more common to see somebody wearing a Liverpool Football Club jersey rather than a GAA one. The Irish themselves are also extremely involved in English football. Roy Keane was a massive figure in football across the ocean and teams such as Liverpool are often seen as the ‘Irish’ teams of the English Premier League.

This societal overlap is also apparent in other aspects of social life and culture. Ireland is a vast consumer of English pop music, media and fashion although they may often put themselves in a position of ‘love to hate’. Studies have also argued that this is besides the fact that English people are coming to admire and respect Irish people more, something which may derive from the confidence and sense of identity Ireland has gained over the years.

The third and strongest argument on the case of similarities between the two countries is that there are no distinct similarities, or indeed differences, at all. In fact, no European countries are either overly similar or dissimilar due to the simple fact that they are all European! The argument goes that all countries share a European common identity and once the language barrier is taken away, all people are the same. This is true on some level, as Europeans we do share some common cultural ground and values. On the other hand, the sense of being ‘European’ is not all encompassing, at least not at the present moment. The culture and values of Ireland are still somewhat diverse to say France. However, the case of Ireland and England shows two countries which are hugely similar on level which sometimes their citizens do not care to admit.

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