Sunday 11 December 2016

We Irish have enduring traits but they're not what you might think

Published 14/03/2014 | 02:30

St Patrick's Day is celebrated in Oslo, Norway
St Patrick's Day is celebrated in Oslo, Norway

ACROSS the world this weekend, we are told, there will be celebrations of all things Irish. In the US, 36.3 million Irish-Americans will celebrate and commemorate their antecedent Gaelic culture of literature, art and sport – well, they will celebrate everything green, like their beer, leprechaun hats and ghastly ginger beards. Romantic notions of an emerald isle are fondly remembered by 'plastic Paddies' across the world, who may never have even visited the country, but retain Irish citizenship, passport or ethnic identity.

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Our re-connection with the diaspora is mostly harmless nostalgia or entertainment. For others, the pain of disconnection through enforced emigration is a sharp reminder that modern Ireland is not so idyllic.

There is no better time than St Patrick's weekend to reflect introspectively on what are the enduring traits of being Irish. What are our defining qualities?

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