As appeared in Letters – Kerryman – 25 August, 2010 edition
Being Irish is becoming an increasingly strange experience for many of us. Having grown up in a white, Catholic, poor and unsophisticated land, we were adept at avoiding disappointment by simply avoiding hope. Then the boom happened. The broken heart of emigration was mended, men in dresses stealing our children was ended and our attitude to hope amended. Finally, the nonsense of the good old days could be dismissed by merely pointing to today on a calendar. We were in our new Golden Age. It may not have been a return to the “Land of Saints and Scholars’, but at least we had the en suites.
The Celtic Tiger was not however a lie. It did happen, I was there and I loved it. Years on end without worry, without fear and without gloom, I loved it. How could I not, money was plentiful and Kerry were winning All Irelands every other year? Truly a Golden Age to be both an Irish man and a Kerry man. It was not a lie.
Though it wasn’t at all real. Now we know Ireland was being mortgaged, remortgaged and then mortgaged again by over ambitious developers, with the help of greedy bankers, under the sleepy eye of cowardly Civil Servants, with our mediocre leprechaun politicians jumping up and down, clapping their hands with dumb glee. The only positive thing we can say about this murder of woeful men, is that the scale of their incompetent cupidity is truly astonishing. They did not beggar a Nation; they have beggared at least three generations of what are supposed to be their fellow citizens. At least the British had the decency to be racist foreigners.
We were led, herded, cajoled, sleep walked and applauded into ruin by little men in suits who are still spending our money. From the Norman invasion of 1169 to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, we men and women of Ireland always held the belief that we were best qualified to rule this island. Now we know that this is isn’t strictly true. Now we know that there is such a thing as ‘economic treason‘ we now know that a few dozen men in suits can put our unborn grand children into debt.
We invited the Normans into Ireland in 1169, we elected these politicians in 1997, 2002 and again in 2007 and very soon they will be coming back to our doors saying how well they have been doing dealing with this unfortunate mess, that was caused by the Americans. We take such pride in the accomplishments of our fellow citizens. An Irish man or an Irish woman does anything positive anywhere in the world and we will feel a tiny tingle of joy. We spend huge amounts of money traveling the length and breadth of this island following our counties sporting representatives. Sharing their joys and their disappointments.
How do we retain such pride in our counties and in our Nation, yet display so much self-loathing in how we vote?