What does Irish identity mean to those born in Ireland and those of Irish descent living in London?

Due to a long history of emigration to England there now exists two distinct Irish communities, the Irish-born Irish and the English-born Irish. Both face problems related to their identity.

Declan Molloy has Irish parents but was born in England. When he was three years old his family moved to Mayo before returning to England when he was nine years old. He has a strong sense of Irishness but feels he falls between two stools.

He has decided to stay in England and raise his own children with a strong sense of Irish culture. He would like his daughter to learn Irish dancing and Irish traditional music but realises she may have no interest in this as she will be,

Wholly English. 

Irish music is extremely important to Shane MacGowan from The Pogues who recorded 'The Irish Rover' with The Dubliners. Raised in London by Irish parents and holding an Irish passport, he says,

I see things as a Londoner really.

London is a multi-cultural city, and there is a big London-Irish scene in pubs and festivals. If Shane McGowan was not already in a group he could easily attend sessions ranging from country and Irish to traditional music.

Gearóid Mac Gearailt of the Irish in Britain Representative Group speaks about the unpleasant coverage the British press gives about Ireland, and the Irish in England. He is particularly unhappy about anti-Irish jokes and cartoons which exist to,

Make us out to be second rate, lower class citizens and to maintain us in a particular position and it has in a large degree done that.

Social Worker at the London Irish Centre in Camden Seamus Taylor says this stereotype damages Irish employment prospects in England and has given Irish people a

Cultural inferiority complex.

When Gearóid Mac Gearailt made a complaint about an anti-Irish cartoon in ‘The Sun’ newspaper he was met with an unapologetic response from editor Kelvin MacKenzie.

This episode of ‘Cursaí’ was broadcast on 14 May 1987. The reporter is Seán Ó Méalóid.