I suppose you could debate this question endlessly, but in general,
the UK has always struck me as having a rather proper image. A deep
history with conventions that are entrenched, a monarchy that's often
seen as nothing more than powerless figureheads who cut ribbons. Why
pay the millions to keep them around? It's history, it's tradition,
it's the deep fear that it's part of what defines us and without these
conventions we'll lose a sense of who we are. I mean, why does a
country like Canada maintain the ties? The US is a bigger trading
partner than the UK, we're closer in culture to Americans than Brits
on a lot of things but we still follow the parent on so many things.
Irish history is a history of oppression. Conquered and occupied by
Brits. A country split in half, ultimately. Poets and teachers dying
for their beliefs and for their culture. When has the UK been
threatened with losing its government, with losing its monarchy, with
having its people scattered to the four corners of the globe because
When you talk about Ireland, you're talking about people who only a
few short years ago were willing to take up arms and fight for their
independence, for reunification, for political freedom. Not just
fight for it, but kill for it.
People who've come up that way are more willing to step outside the
conventional system. They're more willing to distrust "proper"
channels when they've had to fight so hard to oust their enemies from
ruling their lives. They aren't that far removed from their ancestors
who had to break laws to protect their freedoms. If the police is
seen as an arm of a government who's oppressing them, then why trust
Now, some of my ancestors are Irish. My grandmother Irish Catholic,
my grandfather an Orangeman (and my father too). And yet I didn't
really, fully grasp the different way of thinking, the true realities
of Ireland, until I spent time living there. And reading books like
The Troubles. I went from growing up with my black-and-white
mentality, thinking the IRA was all evil, to beginning to understand
what could drive people to such desperate measures.
I was naive enough at 18 to think I was safer in the Republic of
Ireland than in the north. I had no idea until the June day in 1990
when I set foot on Irish soil. I had already been through the fall of
the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Iron Curtain and crossed borders
into East Germany, and I'd been in a town in the south of Spain when
Basque terrorists had tried to blow up Semana Santa processions, but
nothing compared to the experience of Ireland. Seeing train stations
in Dublin empty within a few minutes. I'm standing there, waiting for
my ride, and end up interrogated by police because I'm hanging around
a train station. And it was a chore to find a garbage can. The
freedoms I, as a Canadian, took for granted? They were lacking. And
then we drove to the north, past the snipers set up along the border,
and in Belfast ended up beside a military vehicle that kept a gun
pointed on us the whole time.
It was a different world from anything I'd ever experienced, and
that's going to give birth to a different mentality. The image of the
PI rebel, the lone wolf, the anti-establishment justice seeker... I
can see how that can resonate with Ireland. Not just with the
realities of how Irish see the world, but with how the world has at
times viewed Ireland, as this scrappy disobedient little mutt that's
going to pull on your dress pants until you finally kick it off and
stop trying to teach it to sit on command.
But all that said, for all my experience, I still view Ireland through
a Canadian's lens. Our esteemed Irish colleagues may completely
disagree with me - it's just my gut-level reaction to the question.
> > To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > From: email@example.com
> > Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 15:20:25 +0300
> > Subject: RARA-AVIS: Scottish, not Irish
> > Darn me! Of course Russel McLean is Scottish! What was I thinking..? I hope
> > you won't see my post.
> > Okay, guys, thanks for the tips. Why are there more private eye writers in
> > Ireland than in England? Especially when Ken Bruen is so popular?
> > Juri
-- Japanese translation of WHAT BURNS WITHIN available June 25! http://www.spinetinglermag.com/2010/05/22/ruttan-in-japan/ http://www.sandraruttan.com/
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