Letters in the Indo and change in the GAA

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Picture by Kelli Harris                                  Picture by Edward Dullard

I’ve got two things on my mind this morning, both of which demand attention, so I’ll try and squeeze both into one blog.

The first is the Letters page of this morning’s Irish Independent. I know I shouldn’t have peeked at the online edition but I did, and what do I find? Top of the heap, a letter from a man in Kilkenny declaring “Any reasonable, sensible person having read the excellent articles by Jody Corcoran, Jim Cusack, Eoghan Harris, Mairia Cahill and Ruth Edwards in last week’s Sunday Independent would never, ever vote for Sinn Féin.”   Then there’s another letter from a man in Cork, followed by one from a woman in Limerick, and then one from a man in Surrey – all fighting the same anti-Shinner fight, armed with the sword of self-righteousness and the shield of unshakeable ignorance. I have a theory that one day, the opinion piece writers and the letter writers of the Indo will turn on each other and the air will be full of skin and hair flying, along with the distinctive popping sounds that windbags give when they’ve been punctured.

The second thing on my mind is the response to my blog yesterday. I’ll be honest: I hadn’t anticipated the tsunami of objection to my suggestion that GAA matches would be better without the flying of the tricolour and the playing of the national anthem. Most of those objecting to the proposal did so on the grounds that it was another dilution of our national identity and that unionism would simply take and come back for more.

They may be right, and I think I alluded to that possibility in the blog; but if we’re serious about making the orange part of the  tricolour a part of a new Ireland, we should be inviting unionists in, not giving them excuses for staying out.   “Let them stay out, then!” I hear quite a few voices cry. Well no. Like it or lump it, unionists are our fellow-countrymen and women. We really do need to reach an accommodation with them. The tricolour and the anthem clearly tell unionists this is nationalist/republican territory, so of course they’re not going to be interested. When I watch a game, I do so to see which team is the more skillful, has the greater spirit. Not so I can face the tricolour for the national anthem.

Another main reason why I’d go along with a change is that flying the flag and singing (or pretending to sing) the anthem let a lot of people off the hook. There are those who think that by doing so, they’ve affirmed their identity as Irish people. No they haven’t. I could be the biggest hypocrite in the country and still stand ramrod straight and bawl the words of Amhrán na bhFiann – or all of it except the last couple of lines, because then I’d have turned to bawl encouragement to my team. Doing something for the country for which you profess love and commitment involves a bit more than getting up on your hind legs and singing a song from time to time.







50 Responses to Letters in the Indo and change in the GAA

  1. MartinM September 29, 2015 at 9:46 am #

    We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, independent of the response it engenders.

    Maybe self confidence isn’t as plentiful as I imagined. That’s a pity.

  2. fiosrach September 29, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Jude, unionists are not our fellow countrymen and women. Why? Because they say they’re not. Now you may like to cosy up to them as generations have tried to in the past. You make give up your language, accept the revision of your history,change your politics,revise your sports rules and even assume a slave name but all this Uncle Tom-ery has no effect. They are not Irish. They are British colonists. That’s what they say they are and that’s what they want to be. So forget about assimilating them. They are a separate superior race and have no desire to be assimilated by untermenschen. Live your own life and stop looking over your shoulder to wonder do ‘they’ think we’re doing the right thing.

    • Jude Collins September 29, 2015 at 11:41 am #

      I’m not allowing anyone to tell me what to do, either over my shoulder or under my oxter, f. I figure that people who’ve lived in Ireland, sometimes for hundreds of years, are Irish. They may not want to admit it, they may be a pain in the rear at times, but they’re Irish.

      • Sherdy September 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

        Jude, you won’t have anyone tell you what to do, but three lines later you’re telling Ulster unionists what they are whether they like it or not.

        • Jude Collins September 29, 2015 at 6:28 pm #


          • Francis September 29, 2015 at 7:47 pm #

            Henry Joy Mac Cracken, Robert Emmett, Wolf Tone and the many proud Irish Protestants would have, will agree with your sentiments Jude. The Unionists banging the drums belie the reality that many Northern Protestants feel. Many yearn to embrace their Irishness more fully, but if the Soldier Song is a deterrent to many wishing to engage their Irish Culture, which to some it is, then it should be toned down to invite more Participation. I would never go to anything that would require standing for Gid Save the Queen. Many Protestants may feel likewise about our National Anthem. If we wish to include more of them into embracing their Irish identity, then we need to Listen to What northern Protestants are say. Forget Unionists Afrikaners, there are many good descendants of the United Irishmen, who quietly wish for inclusion, lets not Bar them by intransigence over a song. When they have been won over, we’ll sing it together outside the ground. What would William Orr suggest? Emmet, Monroe, Jemmy Hope, The Reverend Samuel Steel Dixon….the shadows of the United Men are amongst the hills and Glens in the North and South of the Country, maybe we should ask these People what would it take to join the good ship Republicanism. Corbyn is as much a Republican as Bobby Sands….lets have the discussion, and get our fellow Countrymen and Women to Unite against the excesses of post colonial Tory Britain. Time to bin these Conservative Bastards, and maybe we need to see what it would take to bring our Brothers and Sisters over. We need their help against this State, maybe we should ask them what might help them break ranks with the Fetid Afrikaner phalanx which pollutes their Constituencies, and the Rank status quo enforced by Britain that is strangling all our Communities.

          • Páid September 29, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

            If they tell you, as they do, that you’re british does that make you british?

          • Jude Collins September 30, 2015 at 8:15 am #

            My telling the unionists they are Irish doesn’t make them Irish – being born in and living in Ireland does. There is nothing that I have done or has happened to me that makes me British. The idea of Britishness is simply a political scam, where the biggest ‘partner’ in the outfit tells the junior members what to do. Me, I’m agin that.

    • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm #


      Some food for thought:




      Yes, we keep voting for lizards (think Douglas Adams) but the largest unionist party struggled to beat a non-unionist party in one of the strongest unionist areas (East Belfast), so writing us all off as British colonists is a bit of a stretch (and I’m quite sure a large number of northern nationalists are of planter stock and British army descent).

      It might also be worth correlating the decline in Protestant ‘Irish’ identity and compare it to the rise of Irish nationalism and latterly the Provos’ campaign, there’s quite the pattern…

      Just as unionism helped to create the situation that created the PIRA, I believe that Irish nationalism helped create the anti-Irish-nationalism mindset of many unionists. Being Irish and being Irish nationalist are not the same thing, making believe that they are will only serve to isolate, not include.

      • ANOTHER JUDE September 29, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

        Interesting, although it might sound a bit like the old `which came first, the chicken or the egg?` story, I think anti Catholic/Irish bigotry spawned the desire in the Irish to be free, although even being treated fairly by the British would not stop me from wanting to rule myself.

        • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 8:54 pm #


          You’re supposing that anti-Irish and anti Catholic have been the same thing historically and by and large they haven’t e.g. there’s plenty of examples of ‘Irish’ people being anti Catholic.

          You have to remember that everyone was Irish, up to and including the ascendancy, most of them considered themselves to be very Irish, the people who don’t tend to be of a very nationalist view.

          • jessica September 30, 2015 at 5:30 am #

            “You have to remember that everyone was Irish,”

            Am Ghobsmacht, You arent saying this is one country with those who want british rule and those who dont.

            I’m gobsmacked

            There is hope for us yet my friend

      • jessica September 30, 2015 at 6:29 am #

        As Jude says, everyone born on this island is irish like it or not.

        Nationalists are comfortable with it which lets face it, is considered the norm and part of the human condition to embrace an identity and establish a civilisation.

        Am Ghobsmacht, can you tell me what is the biggest obstacle to your community accepting you are irish and what sort of ireland you would like to see in the future.

        • Am Ghobsmacht September 30, 2015 at 9:44 am #

          “Am Ghobsmacht, You arent saying this is one country with those who want british rule and those who dont. ”

          Sorry Jessica, I don’t understand the question.

        • Am Ghobsmacht October 1, 2015 at 7:20 am #

          “Am Ghobsmacht, can you tell me what is the biggest obstacle to your community accepting you are irish and what sort of ireland you would like to see in the future.”

          I don’t think I’m the best qualified to answer such a question, but, I think it interesting that (at least as far as I have experienced) the elderly generation (as around in WWII ) tend to see themselves as Irish (British too, but still Irish).

          However, move on a generation (or two) to the ones that were young when the Provos kicked off you then start to see Protestants and/or unionists regarding themselves as British only to the extreme cases where they are fiercely anti-Irish (or what they believe to be Irish).

          Move on again to an era when the Provos have stopped, you find an increasing number of young people regarding themselves as Irish (or Northern Irish) again. (This is strictly anecdotal you understand, maybe a good perusal of the census statistics would reveal something different).

          So, I think that’s something worth considering first of all.

          Now, moving on, it’s worth asking what is ‘irishness’?

          I and my family (a number of whom are Orangemen) have always considered ourselves Irish.

          What separates us from your average bear is that we don’t see Irish nationalism and Irish culture as the same thing rather we see nationalism (like nationalism in most countries) as a particular (and sometimes extreme and sometimes exclusive) wing of a culture (Irish nationalism has not been shy in excluding people from the Irish family if their ‘face didn’t fit’ e.g. the Duke of Wellington or in a manner of speaking more recently Ernst Shackleton down in Kildare).

          So, agreeing what exactly is ‘Irish’ goes a long way;

          IF it does indeed rely upon tricolours and the Soldiers’ Song (which some here contend is an integral part of Irish identity) then for many unionists its a case of “No thankyou”.

          I just happen to have a very pre-partition view of Irishness and that’s the one I stick with.
          If Carson, Wellington and co were happy enough to be Irish and people like Francis Joseph Bigger and Robert Shipboy McAdam are considered lynchpins of Irish culture then there’s plenty of room for the likes of me.

          Incidentally, I believe the creation of Northern Ireland has irreversibly damaged the rather more unique version of ‘Irishness’ that was prevalent throughout the north once upon a time and that unionists dropped the ball, but, c’est la vie.


          Regarding the last part of your question a united Northern Ireland (or even a united Ulster) is more important to me than a united Ireland or a united kingdom and until that is sorted out then I’m not sure what the answer is.

          The problem with up north is that ‘nationalism’ is considered the norm and not a problem (and by nationalism I mean this in its true sense and it applies in equal measure to the British nationalism that is upheld by unionist politicians).

          The reason I get so rabid about flags, tricolours and whatnot is that I see this is as unnecessary and not a mainstay of Irish culture therefore an unnecessary barrier to people potentially getting on up north.

          I get equally rabid with flegs, fleggers and band parades too (to the point that I’m called a ‘guilty prod’ and all that guff) for very similar reasons.

          However, the PUL Chimera of ‘culture’ (such as it now is) has become despairingly dependent on flags and confrontation but a little bit of historical study and encouragement could partly re-open the door to ‘old Irish Protestant’ culture (as demonstrated by Linda Ervine recently).

          This is something I’d like to see more of and it’s why I spit the dummy out when I see something that threatens the expansion of this reawakening.

          • jessica October 1, 2015 at 8:32 am #

            The only obstacle to everyone getting along on this island is british rule where it is not warranted.

            So long as the big stock remains, why should unionists not see themselves as having the upper hand.

            No one should be expected to give anything on the traditions then uphold, nor should we be trying to convince each other our way is better.

            Like it or not, giving up the flag at GAA is purely an attempt to convince the other side to come on board, everything will be ok.

            Why dont we just be ourselves, live in peace and let things sort itself out.

            Future generations wont have the same baggage, this generation is a lost cause and we are fooling ourselves if we think such moves arent for more selfish reasons.

            Leave the GAA alone I say.

          • Gearoid October 1, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

            Interesting and constructive posts as always, AG. The contribution of Irishmen/women of the Protestant Faith to Irish nationalism and culture has been second to none. One has only to think of the founding fathers of the United Irishmen e.g. Theobald Wolfe Tone, William Drennan; William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Davis of the Young Ireland movement; James Stephens the founding member of the Fenians; Isaac Butt, Charles Stewart Parnell who were stalwart leaders of the Home Rule movement, Countess Constance Markievicz the revolutionary icon and heroine of the Easter Rising. I could go on with this very impressive cast of Irish patriots but suffice to say that it blows apart the myth that Irishness should be equated with Catholicism.

        • Am Ghobsmacht October 1, 2015 at 10:08 am #

          “The only obstacle to everyone getting along on this island is british rule where it is not warranted”

          And could I just clarify who gets to decide where it is warranted or not?

          Lets say for example we just stuck with bits of Down and Antrim that were either sold legitimately to Scots Landowners (like Hamilton and Montgomery) or were entered into the British fold by the decree of chieftins such as the McDonnells and O’Neills.

          So, we now have parts legitimately owned by unionists, populated mainly by unionists who wish to see those areas remain part of the UK.

          Now, bearing in mind that you said ” everyone born on this island is irish like it or not” we can conclude that these are Irish people that want to remain within the UK.

          Would you then concede that these areas are where British rule is ‘warranted’?

          If so, then what?
          How does the rest of the sectarian nonsense up north just ‘stop’ as you seemed to imply?

          I don’t think nationalists like to hear it when someone lists the things that they do to keep the whole bitter circus trundling on. It’s not a one-way sreet (as I’m fond of saying).

          • jessica October 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

            british rule isnt warranted anywhere outside of britain, its as simple as that

            as for remaining part of the uk. as per scotland, the people will decide when that relationship ends.
            They already did but democracy was thwarted in 1918 to keep 6 counties against the wishes of the people

            days of empire are history, please catch up

          • jessica October 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

            Truth is, it wont stop in this generation. Too much baggage

            All we have to do is tolerate one another peacefully and let future generations who wont have been brought up with sectarian attitudes on both sides sort it out.

            I think unionists are hilarious.

            Now you are coming up with the deeds and hopefully you kept a receipt.

            There was some unionist guy on nolan last night complaining about not wanting muslim refuge seekers coming in to his country because they didnt accept the local culture and traditions in his case UK.

            We then find out he was kicked out of UKIP so he hardly complies himself. brilliant

            But then the same could be said for unionists not wishing to involve themselves in irish traditions which is their logical inheritance.

            I have no wish to force anything unreasonable on you and don’t agree with his sentiment but by that twisted logic, would that not mean unionists should either irish up or ship out?

            I think it is a one way street, unionists are just facing the wrong direction

        • Am Ghobsmacht October 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm #


          Do you actually read my posts or just assume that I’m some sort of office boy for the DUP or suchlike?

          Empire? UKIP? Unionists having to ‘Irish up’? Why are you even talking about this stuff?

          • jessica October 2, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

            I was referring to one of the unionist representatives who publically on TV suggested the UK should not take in non-Christian refugees from Syria. claiming that Muslims did not try to fit in with the indigenous population as the reason.

            I was suggesting that same logic could be said for unionists who refuse to accept Irish traditions but it was more tongue in cheek as he is obviously a space cadet.

            But while unionists tolerate their leaders behaving this way, I think I am entitled to take the piss out of them.

            I wasn’t directing it at you personally AG. Hopefully you can forgive my poor sense of humour.

    • Ryan September 29, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

      But Unionists are Irish fiosrach but you shouldn’t allow yourself to be deceived by the loudness of Unionist extremists who drown out moderate Unionist opinion, a lot of Unionists (I’m not saying the majority but a large minority) do describe themselves as Irish. You should read “Northern Protestants” by Susan McKay, its a great book and you’d be surprised how many Unionists see themselves as Irish but don’t express it due to fear from extremists in their own community, some even support Irish Unity. That’s not to say they support SF or the IRA, they just believe Irish Unity is better for everyone.

      If your born or raised in Ireland, then your Irish. Northern Ireland is a part of Ireland, the clue is in the name “northern IRELAND”. The same goes for any other country. So extremist unionists can deny it all they like, the reality is they are Irish. But you can also be British and Irish due to the political situation here.

      Its important not to put off by Unionist extremists, its extremely important that republicanism reaches out to moderate unionists because I believe a lot can be swayed by merits of Irish Unity and protestants place in it. Remember, if a United Ireland occurred tomorrow, Unionists would be around 1/5 of the population, their voice, opinions and concerns need to be taken on board. Showing Unionists the cold shoulder is completely counter productive and will achieve nothing. That doesn’t mean we have to compromise on everything though.

      • jessica September 30, 2015 at 6:02 am #

        well said ryan

      • billy September 30, 2015 at 7:00 am #

        unionists would be around 1/5 of the population,seeing you put it like that not a bit of wonder they dont want to know,no new country is going to tolerate six of their counties being closed down for a fortnight when their trying to build a new future,do they not realize every time they scream no then come back to the table the deal gets worse,a days rental of the boyne site or a march on a donegal beach would most likely suit most protestants or will the extremists be allowed to dictate.

  3. Brian Patterson September 29, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    I fully agree Jude. There is a place for A na bhF. It’s at the All-Ireland Final. (Assuming they do not change it to ‘All-Island’ final). Not directly relevant but there was an item on bonfires on Nolan this morning which also touched on ‘flegs’. I would have loved to ask why Protestant churches of all the main denominations fly the Union Flag throughout July and, in at least one case, right throughout the summer. Is loyalty to the Queen of England a pre-requisite to becoming a ‘non-Roman’ Christian?

    • Willie D. September 29, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

      Protestant churches of all the main denominations do not fly the union flag throughout July. I am a Presbyterian and have never seen a union flag flown from a Presbyterian church at any time, ditto the Methodist Church, Baptist Church and most others. The only main Protestant denomination which does fly the union flag from some of its premises is the Church of Ireland.

      • Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

        That’s my recollection too Mr D.

  4. Am Ghobsmacht September 29, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    If those who support Irish re-unification (I don’t think the word ‘nationalist’ adequately covers all those people these days) catch on to this way of thinking before political unionism does then Northern Ireland’s days would be numbered.

    Not having Union flags hanging from every lamp-post doesn’t make you ‘less British’, not having to stand for a tricolour or the Soldier’s song at a sports game doesn’t make you less Irish.

    As far as I can see anyway.

    • jessica September 30, 2015 at 5:44 am #

      I am not so bothered about the reunification thing, (you are obsessed with this), more the acceptance from people like yourself that the tricolour is not a foreign flag that stops at the border with the 26 counties but represents a sizable percentage of the community in the 6 counties.

      Official reunification can only happen when we all north and south come up with proposals for a new ireland that is acceptable to all of its people and is put to a referendum throughout the whole of the island.

      It would be abhorrent to me that we treat unionists in the manner they did to us in the past.

      I can live with british rule a little longer for that goal but I have zero interest in making ireland two states with two flags and anthems.

      Thats just throwing fuel onto the fire

  5. PJ Dorrian September 29, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    I was in An Culturlann this morning and I brought the topic of the flag and anthem up with people who regularly attend GAA matches in this political construct. They were amazed that this was an issue because at club matches, club flags might be flown but not the tricolour neither is the Soldiers’ Song played. Where these factors come into play may be in finals and county matches. So It is a minor issue. Should both these traditions be abandoned in a reaching out exercise, how will the success of it be measured? Some unionists taking up GAA sports, the establishment of GAA clubs in say, the Shankill? Crowds from unionist areas turning up at Clones for an Ulster final, complete with THEIR Ulster flags ? Could the proponents of watering down the Culture of the GAA set out how they will judge the success of the measure?

  6. paddykool September 29, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    I’m with you totally on this one Jude. Not argument whatsoever …which I suppose makes it a bit boring.i think we both covered this idea many times over . You may say anything you like …think anything you like …pretend all you like…but if it walks and quacks like a duck …it’s a duck alright. similarly no matter what you might think or feel… if you’re born in France , you’re a frenchman .if you are born on the Irish landmass …you are an Irishman . Mum and dad might be Chinese or Polish .They might be Korean or Argentinian but if you are born in Ireland , you are Irish ….end of conversation .!!!!!So it’s not a matter of our unionist neighbours of whatever faith , colour or footballing team or preference they might have inside their heads .It’s to do with including everyone in whatever way we can if we are to say we are a “united” people…. if we want a united people which is what i suppose a “United Ireland ” might want to be , it’s a matter of encouraging rather than chasing away our unionist neighbours.That’s why racists have got it all wrong and we perform a kind of racism here too.Another way to look at it is to compare the situation to apartheid in South Africa or the the way the Southern States in America operated before civil rights.You can’t have blacks and whites separated in the country and you can’t have green and orange or whatever separated either .Flags and the trappings of Orange or Green nationalisms do that and keep us at each other’s throats . All those kinds of barriers need to be gradually de-constructed if we want to be united. it starts with small unwilling steps …like letting a man eat in the same restaurant as you ….of enjoying the differing cultures , foods and sharing them all together.Look how Chinese, Indians and Italians have changed our eating habits .As things stand we have “peace walls” dividing us and in some cases we drink in different bars , never mixing .We are taught in different schools , never mixing. …playing different sports and never mixing .All those things need to change . Flags and music are part of it

  7. paul September 29, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    :IN RE: The man from Kilkenny. Does he realize that Edwards has tried to sanitize Cromwell’s atrocities. As for Harris and Cusack , a bird doesn’t change it’s song, more of the usual anti SF drivel. What passes for journalism in Ireland is sad to see.

  8. ANOTHER JUDE September 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Agreed, I don`t feel any less Irish for not seeing tricolours fluttering from every lamp post.

  9. Perkin Warbeck September 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    When one considers, Esteemed Blogmeister, the sheer number, shape and snottiness of the noses in the manipulative media up which the GAA gets, and on a daily basis, there can be only one with word which springs to mind: the r-word.


    Noses belonging to such luminaries as Dec ‘The Neck’ Lynch, Ian O’Doherty, Eamon Dunphy, Johnny ‘John’ Giles, Brian O’Connor,Dame ‘Dosh’ Finucane,Tommy Conlan, etc etc etc etc. And not forgetting any number of Foxrock Fannies with fluffy mikes who are fans of the Oirish ovoid-balled team.

    One can only imagine the umbrage taken by the above proboscISIS at the latest two-fingered benediction / beannacht dha mhear coise from Croke Park. The hooting of the olfactory nerves from the snooteraii must have been indeed shrill.

    That would have been the four-lettered word in leprechaun which was white-washed to dimensions of a dozen feet in the centre of the pitch on All-Ireland Day: PEIL.

    Peil of course is the leprechaun for football and its similarity to Pele is something so unforgivable that the anglo-centric adenoids never fail to get annoyed about. Perkie’s inner bootyful game groupie has a pleasant recollection of once patiently standing in line in the Royal Hibernian Hotel (now sadly demolished) in Dublin 1, for the signature of one, Edson Arantes de Nascimento.

    And on seeing the space upon which he was asked to write (in the margin of a leprechaun dictionary beside the word ‘peil’) Pele (for it was he !) expressed surprise.

    -I never see such anything before.

    To say he was pleasantly surprised does not quite do justice to the extent to which his prominent eyes widened.

    The reason why the GAA so gets the goat of the Puck Fairies who control the great information highway of the Free Southern Stateen is because it has an awkward tendency to do its own thing. A thing not necessarily stamped ‘By Appointment to HM the Queen’.

    Indeed, it the GAA has a fault it is that it is continually on that which the Puck Faireis of the Purchased Press wish it to be: the back foot. And seemingly quite content to remain on the hind hoof.

    Perhaps, however things may be about to change, And that ‘PEIL’ marking on the field of play/ dreams might, erm, mark a change of policy on the part of the GAA. If they must be eternally on the defensive (for being, erm, offensively different) perhaps the realisation has finally dawned upon the cowers-that-be in Croke Park.

    The realisation that the best way to be defensive is to be, erm, offensive. (cf Jack Mack, the footballer of the year in waiting who doesn’t like to wait around)

    And there is much for the Gaelic Athletic Associsation / Cumann Luthchleas Gael to go on the offensive about. Starting with their very title as it has been lampooned since Thames immemorial when Mo Po and Myles na Gop were in their comic pomp at the pumps of the provincially minded media: : ‘Grab All Association’ / ‘Common Lowclass Gael’.

    And it they are to be truly in earnest about going on the offensive, the best way to do so is the,erm, Hemmingway. The only way, after all, to down all those Elephants in the Sitting rooms of Shoneenia is to take up the large calibre black powder smoothbore rifle known as the elephant gun.

    Two of the media mammals will suffice, both of the order of, (gasp) Proboscidea. And which those smooth bores of low calibre who dominate the communications trade pretend not to see. It’s called, in fact, The Ireland’s Caul Syndrome.

    1. The fact that Croke Park is the ONLY national stadium on Planet Earth which remains unfinished. This is an elephant which has never got and still never gets a mench in the polite circles of the purchased press. Why? A hint: mench rhymes with stench.

    2. Dublin is celebrated every year on a designated day: that would be June 16, aka Bloomsday.

    Dublin are the current holders of the biggest prize in Irish sport: the Sam Maguire Cup. But it is not this GAA team which will be singled out for particular saturnalia even if June 16 happens to fall on a Saturday. Quite the opposite in fact: for the central villain of Bloomsday is – well, wipe one’s Hawkeye ! – none other than (gasp) the founder of the GAA himself.

    Michael Cusack (for it is he !) appears as the loathsome Citizen who holds court in Barney Kiernan’s pub in the unblemished pages of Ulysses with his mangy, salivating dog beside him. This portrayal of a bigot as a middleaged monster – if the roles were reversed – would be branded as unadulterated racism in a halfway normal city.

    But, of course, the roles are not and Leopold Bloom remains of Jewish stock, pure and undefiled as befits an imaginary alumnus of the here and now High School, Dublin.

    Indeed, this is an august educational establishment which boasts a rather interesting roll call of alumni pertaiing to the current topic du jour. Among the games it lists in its sporting menu are: rugby, cricket, hockey and badminton. Which would seem to be rather somewhat at odds with its modest motto: ‘A Tradition of Excellence for All’.

    Now, as the favoured sports of a fair few Paddy Stinks and Mickey Mudds are bogball and stickfighting of the GAA, one, sadly is compelled to the rather doleful conclusion that there are few if any P.S or M.M. on its rolls.

    There is much talk of the GAA Ban in the DOBland media: but not this particular variety of same.

    Incidentally, James Joyce, he who enrolled L. Bloom in the High School, was as a boy himself whisked away after a full week from the contaminating companionship of the P.S. and M.M. is a (gulp) CBS school (O’Connell’s) by his sophisticated father and promptly deposited in the savoury surroundings of a rugby and cricket playing college: Belvedere..

    Among the fascinatingly relevant alumni of the high-tone school in q. are David Norris, Alan Shatter and Denis O’Brien in descending chronological order.

    David Norris, of course, is the deep, pink-hued thinker who singlehandedly and singlemindedly dreamt up the whole Bloomsday Bonanza thingy.Take a bow, Dave. (On second thoughts, perhaps, better not. One doesn’t need the neighbourood knowingly nodding.).

    Alan Shatter is the persecuted MP who emphasised the importance of the m-words, mileage and meal (got some/ made of) last week in the race for the Sympathy Vote in his high-toned constituency in leafy, given to griefy Dublin South.

    Denis O’Brien, as befits a graduate of the High School, now diffidently monopolises the, erm, Great Information Highway (see above) in DOBlin.

    Breaking news: it is confidently anticipated that a motion of urgency will be soon adopted in The Irish Porliament formally replacing ‘The Soldiers’ Song’ with ‘The Shoulders Song’. On the incontrovertible basis that the last line of the former in phoney leprechaun ‘Seo libh canaigi Amhran na bhFiann’ translates phonetically as ‘Shoving Connie Around the Green’.

    And that the vehicle which said audacious Connie was being shoved around in was, (gasp) an Audi whose much vaunted advertising catchphrase contains a blatant falsehood, a low down con: ‘Vorschprung durch Technik’

    In the German Queen’s English this translates as ‘Advancement through Technology’.

    Can’t have that sort of carry on, don’t you know. Next thing we know those GAA fascists in Pairc in Chochaigh be goosetepping around the pitch.:

  10. fiosrach September 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    The reverse holds good, then, Jude. If they say you’re British then you are British. They can accept that both Welsh and Scots can be British as well but our crowd cannot be British and Irish as well because being Irish is to admit defeat in the colonial war. They are quite confident that the colonial authorities will come down on their side when push comes to shove and that’s what gives them their confidence and superiority.

  11. billy September 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    our fellow countrymen,that was the oul sticky talk in the early 70s,theres no point trying to persuade these people of the merits of a united ireland when it comes they will just have to live by the laws of the new ireland which in my opinion wont be in their favour,marching.bonfires ect,after all they signed up 50pc plus one.

  12. KopperbergCentral September 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    The Irish flag is flown and the National Anthem is played at every GAA game? Who knew. But if flag waving and music playing can be deemed as a sign of siege mentality and insecurity, how would that reflect on Irish League soccer if they had a similar tradition of playing the National Anthem and standing to attention before the Union flag at the start of every match? However doing away with such traditions may not necessarily be a good thing. It would not actively encourage a new body of people to attend such games and would make people who oppose such changes more bitter against the body of people who did not ask for the changes to be made in the first place. Like the classic tabloid story of Christmas being changed to Winterville so as not to offend Muslims, even though Muslims were not asked for their opinion on the matter, one way or the other.

  13. Séamus Ó Néill September 29, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    KopperbergCentral ,The anthem and flag are categorically not played and flown at every match. The tricolour ,which represents you and your culture also, is flown at County finals and upwards…..that happens ONCE a year ,the same with Amhrán na bhFiann …..Nine counties in Ulster….nine times per year…….slight difference from the “Marching Season ” ,January to January ……4000 marches + and growing ……Did you ask me all those years ago did I want to embrace a foreign language , embrace a foreign religion ,think like a foreigner ,and become a foreigner in my own land…. well I await your response !

    • KopperbergCentral September 30, 2015 at 12:02 am #

      Well the Latin speaking St Patrick lived a long time ago, so I’m not sure how he would answer that

    • Am Ghobsmacht September 30, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      “Did you ask me all those years ago did I want to embrace a foreign language”

      No, but someone asked Daniel O’Connell and his response was thus: “I am sufficiently utilitarian not to regret its gradual abandonment. A diversity of languages is no benefit; it was first imposed on mankind as a curse, at the building of Babel. It would be of vast advantage to mankind if all the inhabitants spoke the same language. Therefore, although the Irish language is connected with many recollections that twine around the hearts of Irishmen, yet the superior utility of the English tongue, as the medium of modern communication, is so great, that I can witness without sigh the gradual disuse of the Irish.”

      – Daniel O’Connell, 1833

      As for the foreign religion, well, which one? It was the Anglo-Normans that cemented Rome as the centre of Irish worship (that way Rome could finally implement a ‘church tax’ on Ireland) also, it was a Saxon King that chose Rome over the ‘Celtic’ church (not a very accurate name but it’ll have to do), Ireland was one of the last places to let go of it’s old version of Christianity but was finally swept away by the Normans and the Catholic church.

      As for the marches, well yes, far too many and badly handled in some cases.

  14. Sherdy September 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    But Jude, you want to make the Orange part of the tricolour part of the new Ireland by eradicating the Green section – so you will be left with just a white and orange flag.
    At the moment everyone is welcome to join and take part in the GAA, for God’s sake we’ve even the British army joining – and they haven’t objected to the fleg or the national anthem.
    Jarlath Burns’ idea seems like a ‘nice’ gesture, but he mustn’t have much experience in dealing with unionists as they don’t do ‘nice’.
    They cry, complain and moan that the whole world is against them, and when a gesture is made towards them, they say its not enough, its an insult, and its far too late and not given in the correct spirit. The atmosphere is never improved by any gestures – so why bother making them?

  15. Ryan September 29, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

    Jude, I see your point of view and I agree with that point of view. We have to reach out the hand of friendship to Unionists even though it will be rejected by many but those Unionists (usually small u unionists or “Rotten Prods” as they were/are called by their own community) that will accept that hand will make it worth the effort.

    Where we disagree, on this occasion, is how to go about reaching out the hand of friendship to Unionism. Removing the Irish Tricolour/Anthem from the GAA isn’t going to change anything because the vast majority of Unionism wouldn’t even consider stepping into a GAA stadium in the first place and I don’t see that changing with or without a Tricolour/Irish anthem. If the Tricolour/Anthem is removed then expect a flurry of demands for GAA grounds named after Republicans to be renamed, as I mentioned on another article, this isn’t due to “sensitivities”, its more due to the desire to criminalize those who Republicans honour, even though there’s streets named after Republicans in the USA, France, Italy, Australia, etc. That in itself exposes the intolerance of Republicans and their views.

    Would any such gesture be reciprocated by Unionism? I seriously doubt it. Would the Orange Order decide then to stop holding absolutely useless daily protests at Ardoyne in order to ease the tension at the sectarian interface? Would Gregory Campbell suddenly have the will power to suppress his urge to insult Irish language speakers? Would the DUP finally acknowledge the wrongs done to the Catholic community by political Unionism? Again, I doubt it.

    We can reach out to Unionism and the normal unionist people but this current suggestion really does seem like we’re “de-legitimizing” the Irish flag/anthem here in the North or pandering to the extremist Unionist agenda. This same suggestion was demanded by the Leader of the Orange Order a few weeks back in Fermanagh. We shouldn’t pander to their agenda but do the exact opposite.

    • jessica September 30, 2015 at 6:00 am #

      The only thing I expect from unionism is to respect the agreement they signed up to.

      The DUP dont like the GFA because it recognises TWO traditions here, and equality for both the irish and british identities.

      I still don’t see anything representing irish tradition on state buildings here. Oh wait, that would be a concession.

      But on this topic.

      I initially agreed with the sentiment if not for the reasons.

      I am not so sure now. While unionism are still denying the tricolours official representation here, what is the harm in irish men and women standing to their flag and anthem in all ireland competition.

      Does it not build up the excitement and highlights the occasion?

  16. pointis September 30, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    I agree with you Jude I don’t think it demeans anyone’s Irishness not to fly the Irish flag or play the National Anthem at GAA matches. I think some people miss the point. Tom Elliott, Gregory Campbell or the Orange Order are never going to be satisfied with the GAA but that is not the point. Some people focus on the reactions of the Orange Order and Unionist politicians as if they represent all Protestants or unionists when in fact they are very much on the right wing of the spectrum when it comes to reflecting their own communities outlook. There are huge swaths of Protestants and unionists who feel unrepresented and disenchanted by ultra right wing political figures within unionism.

    If those changes took place in the GAA, progress in including Protestants and unionists in GAA sport would no doubt be incredibly slow but I think it would be worth every drop of effort expended to melt any barrier for anyone who has not felt they could enjoy full-inclusiveness with the rest of the population of this wonderful land where we live.

  17. Brian Patterson. September 30, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    Willie D and Am Gobact. I am sorry to have to contradict you but having travelled over the North during the summer Ó can assure You that flag flying is not confined to C of I. And I know of 2 Methodist churches within 25 miles of Newry who flew it this summer. One was still flying it well into August. Next marching season I will proviide photographic proof if I am spared. Even if the C of I had been the only offender it has questions to answer.

    • Am Ghobsmacht October 1, 2015 at 7:34 am #

      Thanks Brian, that’s food for thought, no proof necessary, I’ll take your word on it. (and I’ll keep my eyes peeled around July)

  18. Séamus Ó Néill September 30, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    I ask you AG did you or do you think a quotation from Daniel O’ Connell would impress me…as a barrister he surreptitiously used his position and that of his landed gentry family to gain a foothold in Irish politics , a very profitable place to be in at that time….he cared nothing for the amassed Irish poor ,Catholic ,Protestant or Dissenter….he used Catholic emancipation as a lever to win favour….remember an ordinary person had no vote …no say and absolutely no control over their lives…..they earnestly believed his deceitful words and the mendacious words of the Catholic Church… their trust was shamefully misused ….but as they say history is basically His-Story

  19. Am Ghobsmacht October 1, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    “I ask you AG did you or do you think a quotation from Daniel O’ Connell would impress me”

    It wasn’t meant to impress you, it was meant as a counterweight the impression that you gave regarding how English was unilaterally imposed upon an unwilling population and that’s that.

    Yes, it was to a certain extent but there is never any heed given to the number of people who embraced openly English (remember, the Normans brought three languages with them if one includes the rank and file).

    It’s a big topic but the Irish republic has een independent for nearly 100 years and still the Gaeltachts have shrunk, so, rather than Saxon perfidy there might be something else afoot here?

    (And I say this as someone who would like to see a Gaelic revival and have everyone on the island as bi-lingual)

  20. jessica October 1, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    I wonder if removing the flag and anthem from GAA games is actually a bad thing.
    It gives the impression there is something wrong that needs to be suppressed.

    If you watched the nolan show last night regarding bonfires. Ignoring the buffoon whos ilk gives unionism a bad name, I saw utter genuinity regarding the need for bonfires.

    Rather than trying to ban them, i would like to see sinn fein do more to help the people in those areas. Give them council land that will keep the fires away from peoples homes as I would be terrified to have such a monstrosity of a fire anywhere near my home and someone is going to be killed.

    Significant funding is needed in those areas. This is the result of decades of neglect not of their making and the british state cannot ignore the results.

    Perhaps some proposals on the table of how to actually improve the quality of their lives will persuade unionists to stand together to demand more money that england can well afford.