Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Ireland is my country

"Why should Ireland be treated as a geographical fragment of England - Ireland is not a geographical fragment, but a nation." - Charles Stewart Parnell

Sometimes on a blog an interesting topic can spring up from the most unlikeliest of places. On this thread which was to do with the idea of an all-Ireland police force, the topic of Ireland came up and the right of Irish nationalists like myself to look on the island of Ireland as a country.

Some people told me that I have no right to regard the 32 counties of Ireland as my country. According to them, the advent of partition ended that right and effectively ended centuries upon centuries of Irish nationhood.

I refute that suggestion totally!

As I have pointed out before, the Oxford English Dictionary defines a country as:

"a nation or State; the land it occupies."

So a nation can be classed as a country. Furthermore, Article 2 of the Irish constitution now states:

"It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation. That is also the entitlement of all persons otherwise qualified in accordance with law to be citizens of Ireland. Furthermore, the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage."

The first sentence is crucial. Personally I interpret it to mean that the idea of Ireland as a 32 county nation still exists and I justify that by the use of the words "every person born in the island of Ireland". In my opinion, it is defining the nation in a geographical sense, albeit in a subtle manner.

The online encylopedia, Wikipedia, defines a country as "a geographical territory". Let's face it, Ireland's geographical territory can't be more clear-cut as Ireland is an island! It continues:

"There are dozens of other, non sovereign territories which constitute a geographical country, but are not sovereign states."

That to me sums up my country.

As far as I am concerned, my country is the island of Ireland. I don't regard my country as being a 26 county entity and I wager the vast majority of Irish people can relate to what I am saying. The simple fact is, in the Republic we are not brought up to think that our country ends at the border. When I was in school learning geography, I had to know all 32 counties not just 26. I learned stories on Irish mythology and my favourite stories were about the great Ulster champion Cuchulainn. I learned about Irish history which naturally delves into Ulster's history. The Flight of the Earls, the Plantations, the United Irishmen, Home Rule, partition, the Rising, the War of Independence. Clearly Ulster occupies a massive part of Irish history. It can't be unwritten. It's a part of Ireland. It's a part of ME. When I was a young boy we were taught to look on Ireland as a teddy bear - not a headless one though! In my later years, I studied Irish and I had to learn the nuances involved in the different dialects. That included the Ulster dialect.

The point I'm trying to get across to my unionist visitors is that Ulster is part of my country! You cannot take that from me. You cannot tell me that my sense of nationhood is misplaced when it is clear to me that without Ulster, there IS no Ireland! It is an absolutely integral part of my nation. I shall not and I will not sit idly by and be told that my country is some second-rate 26 county State that has no link to the rich cultural traditions of the province of Ulster. I will not!

You see, I'm a Dubliner. And while I may jokingly make jibes about other Irish counties, I know that each county, yes even Cork, make up an integral part of my nation. That includes Fermanagh, Tyrone, Derry, Down, Antrim and Armagh.

I respect the views of those who disagree with me but to tell me that I cannot look upon the 32 counties of Ireland as my nation is a slap in the face to me and the people of the Irish Republic. My great-grandparents would have had no problem looking on people in the north as their compatriots yet because of decisions made by British cabinet ministers relating to partition, Irish nationhood can be destroyed? Countrymen can be turned into foreigners? I don't think so.

My roots are in Ireland and no Briton has the power to uproot them!

I am proud of my country. I am proud to call myself an Irishman. And I am proud to call the people of the 6 counties what I call the people of the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland - my countrymen!

"No man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation. No man has a right to say to his country: Thus far shalt thou go and no further. We have never fixed the ne plus ultra of the progress of Ireland's nationhood and we never shall." - Charles Stewart Parnell


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