Ireland™, a franchise
By Bosco – Irish Sentinel Contributor –
What does it mean to be Irish? A few decades ago, this question was redundant. To question one’s Irishness was like asking a person to provide an explanation for the proposition, why are bachelors unmarried men? A person who knows (a priori) that “All bachelors are unmarried” need not have experienced the unmarried status of all—or indeed any—bachelors to justify this proposition. By contrast, if I know that “It is raining outside,” knowledge of this proposition must be justified by appealing to someone’s experience, (a posteriori) of the weather. “A priori” and “a posteriori” refer primarily to how, or on what basis, a proposition might be known. Generally, a proposition is knowable a priori if it is knowable independently of experience, while a proposition knowable a posteriori is knowable through the senses, or what we might call, experience. In the colloquial sense we might say, or used to at any rate, “it was a given” what was meant to be Irish.
If we had a time machine and went back to a working man’s pub in the centre of Dublin in 1961, to ask the occupants to explain what it means to be Irish the interlocutor would be met with expression of confusion. The answer to such a question seemed obvious. Similarly, to ask the man next to him “could a man be a woman”? you might be met with a countenance of confusion too but soon followed with fist to the face. Such inquiries were soon disregarded on account of their ridiculousness or offense. However, those times seem a vague memory.
Recently a racial nominee to the US supreme court couldn’t answer the question “what is a woman?”, and this encapsulates the absurdity of the west at the present. Similarly, a Nigerian man or Chinese woman who has undergone some politicalised naturalisation process suddenly is declared as Irish as the natives, natives whose ancestral record is so enmeshed with the nation that the soil has been enriched by their deceased kith and kin over thousands of years. Nevertheless, the globalists will try and persuade people that a simple piece of paper grants a foreigner with no previous ties to the countries the same status as those who can trace their lineage for thousands of years.
IN the past, the opposite was equally true, the identification of those who weren’t Irish was treated with the same quick response. Let’s be honest, even Irish families living for generations in a community were considered “blow ins”, even though they might have originally hailed from just a hundred miles down the road. Yet, now, people who have either abused an asylum system, or used anchor babies to benefit themselves are now to be classed as Irish as anyone else. It has to be stated too that migrants are self-interested consumers; when they use public services and are given welfare or housing , all sourced from a finite pot, they don’t care that their receipt of public funded services and handouts will mean that native Irish who deserved an intervention but will now have forfeit their due from the depleted resource. Moreover, we know from the experience of Cities and towns across Britain, France, Germany and others, that foreign invading cultures try to dominate the host, that the native experience soon has to make room for foreign expression, until eventually it is the foreign culture that dominates the cultural landscape, to the detriment of the nation.
Given the treachery of men like Peter Sutherland and others, who demanded Europe’s homogenous population to be replaced with self-interested migrants from Africa and the middle east, the previously accepted tautology is now under scrutiny. Academics like to dishonestly equate the present mass immigration with foreign invasions of the past. The same anti Irish academics would almost have us believe that migration is nothing new, that is routine, that the Irish were as welcoming of the Vikings as they were the Normans, when history suggests otherwise.
The Vikings and Normans established a presence on this island through force and conquest, not by applying through a department of government. The Irish of old never wanted the Vikings and Normans here, no more than present nationalists want usurping self-interested foreigners here. The slight of hand presented by woke academia is that the Island of Ireland was always a simple melting pot of immigration when the reality was that the island was always under peril of marauders and dangers of conquest from outside ( and with the help of traitors from within).
With the tautology now seemingly obsolete, an should an inquiry take place to determine it means to be Irish? To answer this question we must first ask what it means to be a nation.
The Lebor Gabála Érenn, or the Book of Invasions, describes six invasions or “takings” of Ireland, identifying that the island was colonized by different peoples. These six invasions may have been inspired by the Medieval Christian tradition of dividing history into the Six Ages of the World. The first four waves of settlers are all either killed or expelled from Ireland over the course of the epic, leaving Ireland to the Gaels, and the Tuatha de Danann.
The first settlers of Ireland, according to lore, are Cessair, the daughter of Noah, and her followers who sailed to the western edge of the world in order to escape the Great Flood. Out of the expedition, 50 women, including Cessair, survive the journey but all except three of the men are killed. To reconcile this gender imbalance, each of the men took 16 wives but soon two of the men perished, leaving Fintan mac Bóchra as the only man left in Ireland. Overwhelmed, Fintan flees and is turned into a hawk. Fintan survives in his hawk form for 5,500 years and uses his great wisdom to advise the kings of Ireland down to the time of the legendary Finn mac Cumhaill and the Christianization of Ireland in the 5th Century CE.
The second wave of settlers arrive some three centuries after the Flood, so lore dictates, led by Partholón, one of the descendants of Noah through Magog and Japheth. These settlers meet with tragedy, and all 9,000 of Partholón’s followers are described as succumbing to plague within a week, leaving Ireland uninhabited until the arrival of Nemed 30 years later.
The Lebor Gabála Érenn identifies Nemed as a Scythian, who leads yet another doomed group of settlers to Ireland. These followers of Nemed soon find themselves contending with the Fomorians, dark deities from Ireland’s murky past. The Lebor Gabála Érenn describes the Nemedian s defeating the Fomorians in several battles before eventually being overcome by their foe. The triumphant Fomorians force the Nemedians to offer up two-thirds of their grain, their milk, and their children on the annual occasion of Samhain. A bloodbath on both sides ensues when the oppressed Nemedians rise up, and only 30 men survive, some sailing to Britain, others to Greece, and some to the far north.
Most Irish people would be aware of the “ Fir Bolg”. These were peoples descended from the earlier Muintir Nemed. The Fir Bolg, the fourth group that’s said to have invaded Ireland.
According to the Book of Invasions, the Fir Bolg were enslaved for 230 years by the Greeks. During their time in enslavement, the Fir Bolg grew in numbers and would later be defeated by another group of Nemed’s descendants known as the Tuatha Dé Danann in the Battle of Cath Maige Tuired. However, the Tuath Dé offered the vanquished one quarter of Ireland as their own; they choose Connacht and are mentioned very little after this in the myths.
The Fir Bolg however were not exterminated because when the invading Milesians conquered Ireland, the fir Bolg were apparently still present.
It is said that it was the Tuatha de Danann and the all conquering Milesians who would form the basis of the future population, which was dominated and guided, and had its characteristics moulded, by the far less numerous but more powerful Milesian aristocracy and their henchmen.
The first recorded invasion of Ireland by the Vikings was 795 AD when Vikings, or marauders, possibly from Norway, pillaged the island of Lambay. This was followed by a raid on the coast of Brega in 798, and raids on the coast of Connacht in 807. These early Viking raids were generally small in scale and quick. The Vikings were famously defeated by Brian Boru at Clontarf in 1014. It should be noted that some Vikings fought with King Brian, and some Irish with the Viking invaders.
The Norman invasion began in 1169 AD when the Leinster King, Diarmuid McMurrough, sought help from the English Norman King, Henry II to lead an invasion to re establish McMurrough’s dynasty which had been usurped by rivals. As the English presence grew so did garrisons of English, Welsh and Scots who married locally. The Gallowglass, or foreign warrior, were elite norse mercenaries who established themselves, due to their fighting prowess with local gaelic chieftains in and around the 13th century.
The plantation of Ulster began in the 1610s, during the reign of James I, the effects are still present on the Island to this day. The original planters were English protestants, but over time, the plantation became identified with Scottish dissenters.
Ireland became part of the United Kingdom in an act of union in 1800, which served but one purpose, to establish a ruling ascendency class in Ireland. However, with this enactment, British soldiers were garrisoned across the Island, and local Irish women would have married them.
But what does this say about being “Irish”?
Recently I came across an invective comment on the Saints and Scholars channel on youtube, engaging in the now usual attack on Catholicism by a section of pagan nationalists. The commenter made the claim that because Roman Catholicism wasn’t native, it should be treated like all other foreign influences and discarded. The irony here is that the commenter was using a language that wasn’t “native”, the name he represented himself as wasn’t native either, the interfacing device he used to make his “argument” wasn’t native to boot. This is a common fallacy I come across disseminated by certain nationalists. It is fallacious for many reasons.
It is fallacious because it conflates universalism with globalism. Logic for example is universal, that doesn’t mean that if an Irish nationalist uses logic he or she is acting contrary to the principles of nationalism. However, to act contrary to the principles of nationalism first requires those principles to be established? The tenet some nationalists propose is to equivocate between something that is universally true or universalism, versus something that is not intrinsic to the nation, imposed by an outside influence onto a native population that is against their interest, and that is not inherently true. i.e., globalism.
We don’t have to re establish tribal living in crannogs to be considered Irish nationalists for the simple reason that it presupposes authentic nativistic ideals.
The problem with neo paganism for example as an expression of true Irishness is that it assumes it is the original belief system on the island. Paganism for what its worth is an encapsulating term, derived from the Latin word, pagus, meaning country or district and paganus, or rural person. In reality what modern pagans pay lip service is to the practices and rituals of Iron age Europe 500 BC to 500 AD. It also presupposes that the belief was unform and monolithic. The question should be asked, which variety of paganism is considered truly representative of Ireland? Given we have a mix of different cultures throughout the various invasions, each with their own type of paganism, which is to be considered now authentic? Is it Lug or Thor? Both are pagan after all.
Christianity reached Ireland at a relatively early stage, perhaps as early as the fourth century. By the seventh century Ireland was indisputably regarded as Christian by both Irish and foreign sources. Although the conversion of Ireland can hardly be described as rapid, it is nevertheless remarkable for being the earliest conversion of a European culture, which lay beyond the limes of the former Empire. By comparison, Germanic peoples such as the Frisians and Saxons remained pagan until Christianity was brought to them—sometimes by force—through waves of Frankish political expansion. Not so in Ireland, whose inhabitants are not known to have been subjected to any external political dominion, nor do they appear to have experienced the classic Germanic top-down pattern of conversion, which saw communities converting in tow with their aristocracies. rather, the Christianisation of Ireland was a protracted process
As Roy Flechner in his thesis “CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY IN EARLY MEDIEVAL IRELAND “ comments,
“we must distinguish between paganism that existed before Christianity was known in Ireland and paganism that continued into the Christian era. The evidence for either is scant, but understanding the latter is compounded by the additional challenge that that form of paganism could itself have been informed by Christianity and would therefore render the use of the expression ‘pre-Christian religions’ untenable”.
The fact remains, notwithstanding the modern pagan’s failure to acknowledge, is that pagan practices largely survived because of, not despite of , the Christianisation of Ireland. The truth suggests that modern pagan practices are about as authentic as a Hollywood stage Irish creation. There seemingly exists a ‘pagan god of the gaps’ hypothesis that seems quite similar to those who have read the Arthurian legends created in Victorian Britain.
Therefore, to suggest that revived pagan practices today are authentically Irish assumes first that they are genuine, accurate and universal and unique to the culture of Ireland. Are the Viking pagan practices that differed to the Milesians or Tuatha de danannm or Norse etc, are they to be considered representative of authentic Irishness? One has to factor in that other marauding and trading beliefs might have infected the indigenous pagan expression. The assumption, as Ive already stated, is that pagan belief was uniform and monolithic, but it was not and the little or “scant” we do know about pagan , is from Christian historiographers and sources meaning that the provenance of such of such information has to be doubted.
However, to even get to understand what makes us Irish we must first try to comprehend what is meant by nation.
What is a nation? There are two dominant theories of nationalism, primordialism and modernism which represent two views of nationalism from different perspectives.
Primordialists have argued that modern nations emerged through the evolution of pre-modern nations, that the concept of nation is ineffable almost mystical and immutable. They also highlight the emotional dimension of nationalism by emphasizing the ethnic origins of modern nations. On the other hand, modernists have suggested that nationalism is a social construct, a phenomenon emergent from geo political and economic phenonema.
Proponents of primordialism believe that ethnic identities and objective elements such as religion, language, blood ties are already “given”. Therefore, those features are transferred from generation to generation absent too much change (Ozkirimli, 2010). Primordialists tend to regard nations as the facts which exist naturally. Dimensions of nationalism, according to primordialists is understood in terms of regionalised belonging, in articulating and expressing discourses on national identity ( often cherished through lore). Common descent and language themes also play a prominent role; the idea that nations organically evolved from a pre-existing layer of ethnicity, historical depth; emphasis on emotional commitment and its recall with nationalist language and symbols.
Primordialists place ethnicity in the first stage and nationalism in the second where the latter becomes a politicised expression of the former. Primordialists acknowledge the evolutionary process that would include kin selection as a means of preserving information and data, no different to a species of plant favouring certain conditions to thrive. The concepts of kinship, biological ties, blood, and ancestry are very important for national loyalty (biological dimension). However, for primordialists, there is a difference between racism and nationalism. According to George Mosse, racism is an ideology which takes account of biology and physical differences, while nationalism is a much more flexible ideology. The latter can exist without seeking to impose itself on others who are different but external the nation, the former seeks to label inferior all others.
Irish nationalism for example cannot be compared with English exceptionalism, where upper echelons of English society believed themselves superior to all others and therefore sought dominion over all others.
Connor makes the point that the emphasis of kinship is so significant in nationalism because “the national bond is subconscious and emotional rather than conscious and rational” where music and poetry are often at the centre of nationalist discourses, because they reach deeper than rational understanding: “The core of the nation has been reached and triggered through the use of familial metaphors which can magically transform the mundanely tangible into emotion-laden phantasma . . However, Connor fails to recognise that ethnic politics is rational in so far as it seeks to preserve priceless ethnic information. The nation, according to Connor: “… is a community of people who believe that they come from the same ancestry and share the common history” (Connor, 1994).
In addition to emotional ties such as kinship in nationalist discourses, Connor underlined the geographical discourses such as “homeland” and “blood and soil”. According to him, “homeland” brings together the concepts of region, ancestry and family. This emotional attachment with the homeland is perceived as the geographic centre of the ethnic-national group. Other academics like Grosby, argues too that the homeland is the given group in which we were born and our place in the world which defines “where we come from”. The emotional and behavioural connections between today and antiquity is the starting point for a nationalist revival.
Anthony Smith, an influential protagonist of primordialism, focuses specifically on the history of nation and nationalism. Smith saw modern nations as a continuation of ethnic groups which are constituted from ethnies. So, he tried to find a continuity relationship between ethnic groups and nations. According to Smith, an ethnie is “a named unit of population with common ancestry myths and shared historical memories, elements of shared culture, a link with a historic territory, and some measure of solidarity, at least among the elites” .
Modernists generally argue that nations and nationalism arose somewhere between the sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries, in Europe in the first instance, largely caused by social structural transformations in that period . The modernists attempt to explain nationalism as a result of the industrial and capitalist forces. While this may be true given the rise of the modern nation state, it confuses state with nation. It also conflates mere economic drives with the undergirding need for survival using such devices of economic ingenuity. Rather than economic forces creating nations, nations adapted to economic forces so that the nations could survive. We in Ireland can point to moving away from De Valera’s nativist isolationism towards Lemass’s and TK Whitakers internationalism. The same applies to our original intent with EEC membership( European Economic Community) which, since mutated into the despotic centralised EU, an entity that has become a manacle around the nation’s neck, where the nation’s interests are undermined in furtherance of a globalist elitist worldview.
Ernest Gellner, an important name in defining the modernist approach, highlighted that industrialization is very significant in the formation of nationalism. Gellner claimed that the current social order developed under two different conditions: (a) It is bringing about, or successfully maintaining, an industrial affluent society. (b) Those in authority are co-cultural with the rest of the society (1964). Gellner criticized Elie Kadorie, who asserted that the origins of nationalism should be sought in the Enlightenment period. In contrast to Kadorie, Gellner claimed that the main change in the forms of social organization in human history was driven by the transition from agricultural society to industrial society. According to Gellner, before the modern era the horizons of most people’s lives were relatively confined to localized communities of kinship, co-residence, production and consumption and states and their political, religious and military elites sat on top of a few or many such communities, without interfering much in their daily life (1983). Moreover, this divided political structure meant that many cultures coexisted and various cultures could be tolerated in that periods. In addition, ideological integration between local communities and the elites was minimally necessary (Gellner, 1983). To Gellner, the rise of the industrial society led to the demands for workers to mobilize socially and geographically. He also claimed : “Nationalism is rooted in a certain kind of division of labour, one which is complex and persistently, cumulatively changing” (1983).
Gellner drew attention to the role of mass education in literacy and the spread of the common language to the general population. According to him, in ancient agricultural states, priests were an elite group within the state bureaucracy, while in modern society everyone became priests (Gellner, 1964). More clearly, this “high culture” which was special to the elites in pre-modern times had spread to a large population in modern time. Gellner preferred to use the term “industrial” society instead of “capitalist” society. Because the term “capitalist” mostly refers to class conflicts that arise in modern times. Unlike Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm preferred to use the term “capitalist”. Indeed, both agree that nationalism emerged after the formation of modern societies. However, Gellner sees the formation of a social identity that is functional for life under modern conditions, Hobsbawm sees an identity that is an ideological illusion, generated by the interests of those benefiting from the capitalist state, and the fears and uncertainties of those confronting the dissolution of more traditional ways of life in the face of capitalist “progress” (Hearn, 2006).
Hobsbawm determined a paradox, in his book which is called Nations and Nationalism Since 1780. He claims that nationalism came into its own in the nineteenth century around the same time that liberal political economic theories of Adam Smith and others were conceptualizing individuals, firms and markets as the fundamental components of economic growth, not nations or states (1992). In addition, Hobsbawm conceives of national identities as complex formations built both from the bottom up, out of raw materials of language, descent and religion, and from above, by states seeking to homogenize their subject populations to facilitate governance. In regard to ‘top down’ processes, he has articulated the influential concept of “the invention of tradition” to describe the new national states’role in synthesizing and fabricating a national culture to encourage national loyalties (Hearn, 2006).
John Breuilly, one of the representatives of the modernist movement, tried to explain the modernization process through the state. In his explanation, he drew attention to the “institutional” and “functional” division of labor. In addition to this, he defines nationalism as an oppositional political movement, justified by nationalist ideology, seeking state power (Breuilly,1993). He also divides nationalism into two criteria: (1) whether they were opposed to “non- nation-states” (e.g. modernizing absolutist states and decaying imperial empires) or nation-states proper, and (2) whether their goals aimed at territorial separation from the state, institutional and political reform of the state, or political and territorial unification of a series of separate states (Hearn, 2006).
Where does that leave us? In truth it becomes an academic game played by men and women in Ivory towers. Patriot and Catholic Padraig Pearse claimed
“The Gael is not like other men; the spade, and the loom, and the sword are not for him. But a destiny more glorious than that of Rome, more glorious than that of Britain awaits him: to become the saviour of idealism in modern intellectual and social life, the regenerator and rejuvenator of the literature of the world, the instructor of the nations, the preacher of the gospel of nature-worship, hero-worship, God-worship – such … is the destiny of the Gael”
Pearse’s later works, the focus on the Irish struggle for cultural and political sovereignty erases even those rare ventures into the zone of “missionism”, undoubtedly influenced by a contemporary mixture of “Celtic twilight” (Yeats’s “house of ancient idealism”) and “mainstream” Catholicism (Ireland as the most faithful member of the Church) creating a common rhetoric of Irish “exceptionalism”. Conversely, Pearse’s vision has a decisively national character. The drama of the fall, sacrifice and redemption is staged within the microcosm of the nation, without any attempt to widen its message. Instead, the notion and vocabulary of a divinely inspired mission is transposed to the chosen group or to a single individual within the nation. Pearse’s thought may be summed up by a quote from Geoffrey Keating which he repeatedly invokes: it describes Ireland as a “domhan beag intti féin” – “a little world in itself.
The poetic romanticism of Padraig Pearse, with its ineffable qualities captures the essence of what it mean to be irish, not just for Pearse but for most Irish people for the most part of our independence. It is only recently that globalists have adopted the post modern tactic of scepticism reducing Irishness to an academic exercise that can render Irishness devoid of meaning. The same people after all had their ideology represented by a US supreme court nominee who couldn’t answer the most obvious question, ”What is a woman”. This is all too convenient because it means that anyone can be a man, woman or blimp, and so anyone can be Irish too if they merely “ feel”it. The dead martyrs are owed far too much to capitulate to such an idyll ideology.
Irishness won’t be reduced to a scientific enquiry, and there is no need to establish a head count to determine whose DNA fits with the dominant haplogroup. Pearse and others recognised that being Irish was an expression of both blood and culture. It was the whole experience of a people who endured persecution, passed down from one generation to the next that gave us our gallows humour, our quick-witted responses and our tendency towards charity. To be Irish is a culmination of generations of experience handed down from one set of peers onto the next. To similarly assert that a person adopted into a family could be said to express the nose of a grandfather, gait of an granduncle or jawline of an aunt of the adopting family, could a foreigner with no lineage to the nation, be expected to be properly of that nation, merely because they were granted a piece of official parchment.
The modernists and post modernists of course will state otherwise and will attempt to promote their ideology with the goal of diluting the native stock, and not through the barrel of a gun, but rationalising the irrational.
Pearse had escalated his accusations against the Ireland of the time, stressing that the nation faces the ultimate chance to preserve its very existence as a separate entity, and we present day simulacra are presented with the same. However, to play the academic game is already conceding the board, and on that board compromises usually endure.
The best understanding of Irishness, is to return to the pub of 1960s Ireland, where the revellers barely needed a word to express the truth of what it meant to be Irish, all that was needed was a nod and a wink, and in that, was found the history of our people, an indelible acknowledgment that most of us knew to be true long before insanity and treason took over.