Monday 16 January 2017

God and history can now make our closest neighbours our good friends

This generation should give thanks that hatred has lost its hold and we can acknowledge our common heritage.

Published 13/04/2014 | 02:30

Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina being farewelled by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle
Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina being farewelled by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle

WARRINGTON was the watershed. In 1993, for the first time in 30 years of atrocity, tens of thousands of Irish people took to the streets to protest at an IRA bombing in Britain. After that, it was easier for Irish people to admit their affection for England.

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This was some small relief to "West Brits" like myself who had come out of the closet many years before. But I really had no choice. From boyhood, I have been besotted by an imagined Ireland and an imagined England.

My parents fed these fevers with different potions. My father, a Cork city republican Jacobin, nurtured my Irish identity. My mother, a rural Roscommon Jacobite, nourished my English identity. She loved England as the home of Shakespeare's plays and the poems of Palgrave's Golden Treasury which supplemented her national school education.

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