Ireland, Irishness and Irish Heart

I might as well admit that I have been dreading Easter Weekend this year as it marks 100 years since the Easter Rising here in Ireland. I realise that The Easter Rising probably means little or nothing to most people who don’t have some strong connection with Ireland but I can tell you that it has HUGE connotations for those of us who do.

The Easter Rising was a rebellion aimed at securing independence from British rule. It was a relatively small affair led by a number of visionaries which failed to achieve its aims BUT it was very significant in terms of setting in train the momentum which led to the War of Independence and the eventual signing of the contentious Treaty in 1921 which led to the setting up of the Irish Republic ~ which includes 26 of the 32 counties on the Island of Ireland. This contention then led to a very bitter Civil War within the Republic in the early 1920s and later to the Northern Troubles which erupted in 1969 and prevailed very bitterly until the 1998 Peace Agreement.

That’s my reading of The Easter Rising anyway and there are definitely many different readings of it. It’s important to recognise that the Easter Rising took place during World War I and many Irish people were part of the British Army.

Given all this (and lots more that I haven’t mentioned), you can imagine how all sorts of differing attitudes to the Easter Rising have become embedded in the hearts and minds of all those whose lives have been touched by the legacies of anything associated with that uprising in 1916.

Coming into today, I felt that emotions were still too raw to have big Centenary Commemorations/Celebrations. So, it was with great trepidation that I watched the State Commemoration on television a few hours ago. It was held in Dublin and involved: a wreath laying ceremony for those who died during the Rising; a reading of the Proclamation which was signed by the leaders of the Rising who were executed in 1916; a beautifully composed prayer which looked to our past, present and future in what seemed like a very broadminded, inclusive, pacifist way; and a parade in which all the security and emergency services of the Irish Republic were represented.

There were no speeches and just watching the proceedings, I found myself relaxing and feeling a wave of hope sweep over me as groups like the Irish Army, Police Force, Air Corps, Naval Service, Civil Defence, Coast Guard filed passed with immense dignity.

The discussions on the television indicated that Ireland is coming of age in terms of being able to discuss our history, as well as our current social, economic, religious, and political situations and aspirations in a mature, civilised way.

So, I write this post with a great feeling of warmth about being Irish and with a huge pride in this beautiful country of ours.

Here’s how my patch here in Co. Waterford was looking this afternoon:

Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Walking along the rocks, it seemed just right to come across this little vision:

Irish Heart!


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

32 thoughts on “Ireland, Irishness and Irish Heart”

  1. Thoughts with Ireland, with awareness of its colorful history and heritage. And to the people there who embrace peacefulness and understanding, please know I admire them.

  2. Complex Jean – you covered a lot of topics. Interesting. Love the heart shaped rock formation – looks like it is made of pumice. And why is it that when I learned about Ireland in school, I was given the impression that it rained a lot (and was very green) – and yet your pictures all seem to show sunny days. Are there regional weather differences? Are you picking nice days? Did they lie to me? ha!

    I’ve gotten to know a few Irish immigrants to Canada and none will speak at all about anything to do with the unrest in Ireland, either contemporary or historical. They clam up tight – so I have some idea how sensitive the topic is but obviously not the details. We were taught about the Irish fight with the British and it was presented as Britain trying to retain a colony that did not want to submit to British rule. As an ex-colony of Britain that watched British abuse of our American neighbors, we have some sense of how they could be unfair historically. I know that here was a fight between religions as well. All in all a very complex situation.

    All that said, when I studied business, Ireland was presented as a very viable country for outsourcing call centers and such. The internal tensions were minimized and we were assured that they were open for investment. They scored high on many criteria such as language (high literacy), infrastructure (electronic as well as highways and utilities), tax and government investment, culture (used to meritocracy, hard working, diligent, positive attitude), etc. On a scale that took into account about 200 criteria Ireland scored as high or higher than any other country.

    So, from a perspective of another country the risk and tension seems if not low at least manageable. I hope all goes well and from what you said about the celebrations, sensitivity seems to be the order of the day. Best of luck and Happy Easter.

    1. Hi Paul, the situation is complex and it doesn’t surprise me that people over there clam up about it. That’s the thing I felt today, that people here are becoming more open and have a sense that it’s okay to express an opinion.
      As for the rainy weather, I DO live in the part of Ireland that has the most sun, anyway ~ hence ‘The Sunny South-East. ‘ We don’t actually have as much rain as people tend to think. I heard a stat the other day about rainy days that took even me by surprise as it was lower than I would have thought.
      The country tends to be very welcoming to foreign investors, which is a good and a bad thing. Great if they stay but it can cause immense hardship if a large company moves away, especially from a rural area and leaves lots of people without jobs.
      Hope your Easter is going well.

  3. Hi Jean,
    A wonderful post becasue I have my own feelings about the Rising and its aftermath and I am very interested in why it is never discussed in our family. So, I very much want to know how people like yourself, living in ireland, born in Ireland, feel as well. My family are from Ireland and I grew up there, but I was born in London so I don’t feel I can claim the same Irishness as my brother who was born in Mallow…does it matter though? I am filled with comfort to think that there can be an open discussion about Irish history and all it means on each of its very many levels and how wonderful to think the conversation has started:)

    1. Hi Olga, I think it’s extremely complex. Possibly my heightened awareness of that comes from having lived near the border growing up as well as being the child of a mixed marriage – religion-wise.

  4. Thank you for this bit of history of the wonderful Irish people. I think there is a bit of Irish in many of us in the U.S. You have a right to be proud and I am glad that the day brought you peace. Cheers for your beautiful island!

  5. Beautifully calm and balanced. And, my late mother being from County Waterford, I’m moved by the loveliness of the scenery too. Thanks to you from here in South Africa.

    1. Harry, you’ve no idea what your comment meant to me. I’m so glad to hear from you all the way across the world. Whereabouts did your mother come from, Waterford City or County?

    1. Oh Tric, I was completely turned off by the hype largely because I felt it was assuming that everyone was at one in their views about the Rising.
      The State Commemoration dispelled that fear and I loved the Chaplain’s words especially and was glad he was the only one to speak. The Parade itself spoke volumes for me anyway.

  6. Lovely post. A few friends and my Dad and I were talking about it over here on our end of the world on Easter Sunday. It’s amazing it was 100 years ago when in so many ways it feels not that long ago. So much has changed and so much has not. I am glad you were left with a peaceful feeling in your heart about it. I can only imagine you have family members and friends who feel differently. Happy Easter to you.

    1. That’s great that you were discussing it over there too.
      I think there is a whole multiplicity of nuanced viewpoints on our history and what’s important now is that everyone listens to everyone else and respects the peace that prevails.

        1. Oh I think most of us are still trying to figure out ways of living together with such a range of different views and aspirations and that includes people of both North and South.

  7. The celebrations seemed to go off very well Jean. A nice balance was struck and no eejitry to spoil it. And there have been some very good opinion pieces debating the legacy of the 1916 Proclamation. Indeed Ireland is beautiful but badly needs leadership and direction.

    I plan to be over there at the end of next week, including a quick stop in Waterford – looking forward to it, flying weather permitted,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s