This is not (strictly speaking) a post concerning genealogy (although I’ll speak at length on that particular subject when time permits me to do so.) Rather, this little tidbit concerns the ever-growing tide of Irish emigrants, newcomers to a diaspora that has been going on for centuries, and the political party which wants to include them in the future of their homeland.
At last week’s Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, it was proposed that, were SF to take a dominant role in Irish politics, that Irish emigrants should be allowed the right to vote.
Amongst a host of progressive reforms in SF’s platform, this one should come as particularly welcome to Irish persons living abroad from England to Australia and all points in between. It’s actually quite difficult to go anywhere in the world without finding someone from Ireland, or at least of Irish descent. (There are many things we do well. Procreating is chief amongst them.)
With such a widespread population, it stands to reason that Irish people outside of Ireland be given somewhat of a voice in what transpires in the motherland. After all, there are Irish language clubs, Gaelic Athletic Associations, cultural societies, and policy groups concerned with Ireland’s well-being in many places. The people behind these organizations love Ireland, are proud of their heritage, and spend a good deal of time and money to try to help preserve what they see as a treasure beyond price.
Any Aussie, American, Canadian, or what have you, who has been out of Ireland for too long, can tell you what I’m about to tell you.
If you were born in Ireland, or of Irish descent, when visiting Ireland, do not tell anyone “I’m Irish, too!”
Because the reply you will get is, “And where in Ireland are you from?”
My stock response to that question used to be “Your mother’s house.”
Being treated as a second-class citizen of your own country is a slap in the face for anyone, particularly when you have devoted considerable personal and financial resources towards the well-being of said country, even though you might have emigrated due to the fact that your country’s government failed to provide you with an opportunity for a decent life.
Sinn Fein has recognised this, along with the fact that they have broad support outside of the island itself. SF’s leadership wants to include Irish people from all walks of life, regardless of their current geographical location.
Whether or not they can deliver remains to be seen, but the sentiment counts for something.
I realise that “And where in Ireland are you from?” is basically just a way of taking the piss, but it’s a bit sharp considering the contributions of ex-pats and their descendants. I am not a member of Sinn Fein, but their inclusionary stance (whatever the motives behind it) should serve as an example to the people of all the counties of Ireland.
Right now, you need all the help you can get,
Obviously, when I used to reply to “And where in Ireland are you from?” with “your mother’s house”, I was being a bit of an arse. I could have just said where I was from. These days, however, I think I’ll take to using the phrase again, should the situation call for it.
Because if you’re Irish, no matter where you live now, or where you’re from in Ireland, we are all from each other’s mother’s house.
We all have the same mother.