What It Means to be Irish

A humbled Irish Identitarian here with a heartfelt ode to our peoples’ spirit and ancestors. Please give me poetic license because I’m not speaking with my head primarily and it would be unfair if it were to be taxed with the responsibility of answering for my heart’s fancies. It’s out of celebration and storytelling I open my gob at all.

I have just returned from the most recent in a handful of visits to an internationally treasured geographical area and an Irish cultural treasure by the name of Coole Park, in South County Galway. Every successive visit has been more and more profound in it’s effect on me, at the very core of my being, while today’s visit truly shook me. It’s a vast swathe of land that earns it’s international regard for it’s underground waterways and the resulting geography and wildlife. It’s earned it’s regard across Ireland and broader Anglosphere, to a small degree, for being the chosen sacred grounds and inspiration for Ireland’s greatest modern poets and writers. Men of mysterious secret societies such as the Golden Dawn and the Rosicrucian Order – men urging on the Celtic Revival.

I spent years in childhood being taken there by any adult with a car, sometimes to spend the whole day picnicking in a green area, walking the various paths, visiting the turlough, or picnicking and playing in the walled garden. Either nobody told me or I wasn’t compelled to remember, but my family had me playing right next to The Autograph Tree in the walled garden. The tree covered in the spirited and eccentric signatures of the great men I’ve mentioned. Men like W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw.

A spirit has been slowly overtaking me these past 2 years, today being the day it bound me so that I’ll never escape again and nor will I ever want to. It called me to learn who my people are and what the true value of our land is. I promise you that if you find yourself under this spirit’s enchantment, a visit to this vast magical land will satisfy your hunger beyond a visit to some monument which our self-hating Republic has mounted to mourn death and psychic injury. The metaphorical graveyards of a miserable past.

Our people have suffered many such injuries and deep losses. It runs deep in our people. And for some reason when we realised that who we are wasn’t bombs, sectarianism, and tragedy; we got into the foolish idea of not being Irish at all. We have been systematically starved, terrorized, had our Laws and language bleached from our memory, dictated to, and finally made to feel guilty for daring to fight back in the only way we knew how. It’s not fair – but that does not dissolve our responsibility for our individual and national fate. We have been asked to give up our Irishness with the proposition that it would make us more sightly in the eyes of a modern world. We can take that proposition and allow our island to be invaded without a gunshot or a word said, or we can pick up arms and defend our Britishness and Americanness – is that really the only options we have? Is it not possible to look further back to Christian and Pre-Christian times for the real answer to the riddle of “what it means to be Irish?” This is the message of those heroes of the pen and enchanted word. Following in the pre-history tradition of Irish storytelling, written record, and poem, they spoke of the immense beauty of the world around them. They reached out with their words to paint million stories in our minds. They also got down and dirty with us to satirize or soulfully address what burdens the Irish heart. A friend quoted W.B. Yeats to me only a few days ago and I almost shat myself laughing, but at the onetime facing a morbid reality of many an Irish experience.

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”

Although we cannot say we’re unique in this and that no individual or people are burdened in the same way, but it is keen to notice that a lot of other peoples aren’t as easy to vanquish like we currently are. We must get beyond that sense of tragedy by respectfully and lovingly pulling it off like a plaster – or bandaid, for the Americans – to expose a part of ourselves we haven’t seen in centuries, to find that a scar might remain but the wound has fully healed.

3 weeks ago I awoke on a sleep-in day with an empty head, not realising that white rum is not only good for washing toilets, but washing brains also. I gave my judgement to nothing that afternoon and simply opened the bedroom window to hear the birds while I lay back down – contemplating exactly how it is that I made it to bed in the first place, having completely blacked out the night before. I quickly realized that had I behaved myself with that bottle, I may have done something constructive with the day ahead of me. No matter how little I misbehave, I’m still running away from something – something that matters to my people and our fate. Of course I had to give in to the foolish addiction of the day – check for email in the morning. Despite my preprogrammed reflex to escape into work and social media, I was faced with a reminder – a mass email sent out by Kevin Flanagan-Coombes, acquaintance of mine and conceiver of Ireland’s central Freeman hub – Tir na Saor.com. He was publicizing his talk at The European Students for Liberty Conference in Prague, on the subject of Ancient Irish Anarchy. A talk describing and exploring the merits of the ancient Law that governed this country, autonomously, without a central State, as far back as anthropological history can imagine – The Brehon Law System. Having only heard of this by name and reading James W. Zion’s study comparing Brehon to Hopi Law, I was inspired by not only the information, but the spirit in which Kevin communicated it. His embodiment of it in his very spirit and thought process filled me with a thirst.

Kevin, a holder of a degree in Law – but not a Member of the Bar – encapsulated intellectually what I picked up viscerally. He told his audience that, as Libertarians, they may be here to talk economics and law, but they’re all there to talk about consciousness. People suggest that Libertarianism or Anarchy means Anarchy in the sense of chaos. No Law. No social and legal bindings. Such a state would only come about by imposing a Libertarian model on people who are not Libertarians. What they are trying to build is a cultural consensus that allows this way of life to work. This is the social cohesive that allowed Ireland to be stable refuge for the Saints and Scholars we’re reputed to harbour and export to the world.  A way of life seemingly extinct, but alive still in the moral and intellectual fabric of the people. We tend to leave people alone as long as they leave us alone – more often a strength than a weakness. We have a relaxed sense of time – seeing as the concept of another having natural rule over us is relatively new. The Irish have, like almost every other Pagan people, obeyed the cycles of time rather than the edicts of whoever decides he’s King or Crown. We got up in the morning; if it was raining heavily, the winds became dangerous, or there was more than 5 inches of snow, we wouldn’t go outside unless urgent work needed done. We would party at the Solstices, Equinoxes, the cross quarters, and significant stations of the Moon, like all Pagans; and when the Winter set in we would sit around the fire in hibernation or storytelling mode. Like almost every other Pagan people we were alien to the arbitrary placing of duties and observances on the Gregorian Calendar that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the cycles of nature. I’ll dare to say that we still are alien to these ways and find all manners to escape on the days we’re given off or just drop out of the race completely in what Ayn Rand would call Middle Class protest. We have preserved our language in small regions and in the form of Irish English – a slight of tongue so given to the art of poetry and surreal storytelling that both Britain and America love to claim our genius as their own. We, like some conquered ethnic groups, have a graceful talent for linguistic rebellion. We defied pastoral decency and Crown imposition with our words alone. We even have no shame in using our whip-like tongues on each other, as the old Dublin barstool wisdom goes – “An Irish Fact is anything that makes the conversation more interesting.” Like some Pagan cultures, instead of being cucked by Catholicism, Catholicism cucked to us – having inherited many customs from us. Over-all, our culture was so overpowering in it’s appeal that Vikings, Normans, and other ethnic groups became what we call Níos Gaelaí ná na Gaeil féin. More Irish than the Irish themselves. An obvious exaggeration, but phrased so to convey the uncanny ability to assimilate others to our ways and so completely. Cities like Waterford and even our Capital Dublin were originally Viking settlements that, despite growing to a threatening size, assimilated all the same. Many Normans settled either by conquest or immediate assimilation, and now all that’s left of them are surnames. United Irishmen defending our common heritage – a heritage very much worth fighting for.

On the day that I woke up calling an end to my childish ways, I took to learning the language of our people. The Law, ways, sensibilities, and history of our people is encoded in our language. A library of phonetic and figurative wisdom waiting to be unlocked by any Irishman who takes the time to do so. I wasn’t guided to learn by a sense of guilt, intellectual curiosity, or anger. I was guided by that thirst for change and growth. I knew therein lies all my answers. With this new attitude of freedom and excitement, the trauma-based aversion to this area of study melted away.

When I arrived in Coole Park earlier today, the thirst came on thick and strong. I didn’t need to peel away my protective layer of arrogance that would normally shield me from humility – that simply melted away as I approached in the car. Crossing the threshold of the gates was like stepping through a fearie portal, falling down Alice’s Rabbit Hole, or being swallowed by the picture frame doorway to Narnia. You may say I’m a blissninny, but I kid you not. Near anxiety set in as I contended with my dwarf-scale size to the towering ancient trees, the resplendent architecture, and the many years of meaning the Irish imbued the very land with. I stepped out of the car and onto the hallowed ground of a temple.

Walking through this giant complex of woods, turloughs, and 19th Century architecture and gardens, I felt the very soil’s appreciation for it’s visitors. This place has been here longer than any one Human or any one idea. We come to it for a time to leave our mark – for better or worse – and very promptly vanish into it’s history. This is the place that inspired some of W.B. Yeat’s most beautiful poems and thoughts, which he left behind for posterity. It’s where he came to terms with his unrequited love for Maud Gonne, the woman who would trouble his heart until his death. He left that longing love behind, also. I felt as though I stepped onto the stage of a millennia old play so great that playing the part of an extra for just 3 hours rocked my fucking world. The walls of the main grounds, which now serve nobody but the deer enclosed in a pristine acre of their own – they were more alive to me than any wall in Ireland standing with practical purpose. A prop left over from an earlier act the sentimental stage hands couldn’t bear to remove.

As Coole Park is basically water obscured by land, a seasonal lake – or a turlough – was filled. After an exhaustive walk being humbled with every step, discussing our peoples’ ways with my good friend, I stopped by the murky lake for a rest, finding a sloped stone to crouch on. The simple act of sitting on this particular stone gave me the impression at least one great man or woman sat here on this very stone, on this very natural dock. This is the last thought I remember having as the water rocking back and forth spirited me away to someplace… I could see my friend wander and hear the tourists behind me discuss taking a photo, and quickly deciding there are more compelling views upshore. None of this moved me. I was transfixed. Some unconscious force later brings me to my feet and I find myself wandering away unable to think of anything other than that melodic rocking water.

As the enchantment wore off, I knew I had received exactly what I came for. I have spent the last week agonizing over this thirst rising in me, wanting to burst out of me in the form of a treatise addressed to my fellow Irishmen. I burned to call you all to look closer at what it is that we have inherited as the Sons and Daughters of Eriú if we are to face the 21st Century and retain our dignity. To call us together to rebuild Gealtacht and help each other relearn what was lost. I struggled with the Muse day and night – whether at my word processor or in my private internal moments. I yearned to express this thirst, not realizing that I’m woefully ignorant of it myself. In my arrogance I risked either making you feel that I know something you don’t, or coming off as some sort of amadán. I still am an amadán, but now I’m an ambitious amadán.

When I walked away from that enchanting lake I finally understood what it means to be Irish. It’s an innate feature of our ethnic makeup that is proving very hard to erase because it doesn’t simply live in our minds or hearts – which it forever should – but in the land itself. It doesn’t simply live in the land itself, although it’s beginning to vanish there too. It’s a non-linear borderless contimuum. The nature, the architecture, the terraforming, the Irish heart, and the Irish mind, feed into one another to create a beautiful web that guarantees us refuge if we seek it. It’s a web that can and is being broken, but I feel a new dawn is approaching with every new generation of Irish.

I can’t advise a trip to woodlands or true cultural monuments enough. The relearning of our deep history and culture will serve as a distinguishing factor when our people eventually become a minority in their own country. If we retain this web, we’ll have something worth being Irish for.

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