Tuesday, 25 August 2015


I came across that article on The Journal website a few days ago and it got me thinking...

In that opinion piece, the author, a twenty-something Nigerian, explains that even if he's Irish, the Irish don't know he's Irish (hope you're following me there...). He explains he feels Irish at heart, but his origins are always a matter of discussion, in a negative way. As an example, he takes the usual question everyone asks to start a conversation "Where are you from"?, and thinks that it's an implicit form of racism that can be psychologically damaging for immigrants. 

I always get that question as well. But to be honest, I don't get offended and why should I? It is a valid question after all. Usually my accent gives it away so of course people are going to ask me where I'm from! My Mauritian husband used to be asked the same thing all the time when he worked in a hotel. In fairness, there weren't many black people in the area at the time so it was only natural Irish people were wondering where he was from. He played a lot with it. He's very good at accents, so sometimes, just for the craic, he would put on his best Dublin accent and tell them he was from Swords. The look on their face was priceless. I think Irish people in general are just curious, and I definitely don't think it's racism in disguise. Sure, Cork people get slagged by Dubliners all the time (and the opposite is true as well).

Do I personally feel Irish at heart? The answer is "sometimes". I feel proud if Ireland wins some sports competition, if there are positive news about the country or if an Irish artist makes it worldwide. I love Ireland, the culture, the way of life, the people. I can definitely speak English and I can even manage to pull off a Dublin accent at times. I love eating a good Irish breakfast, spending time in the local pub with friends, and I work with Irish people.

But does all that make me Irish? I don't think so. Maybe I am more Irish than I think, but in my mind I will always be French (and Breton but that's a more complicated debate). I was raised in France and only came here as an adult so, even if I'm fully integrated, I will never be completely Irish. Even if I owned an Irish passport I think I would only be "nearly Irish" (Now you understand the name of the blog!). And I'm totally fine with that. 

Now, if you ask my kids, they'll probably tell you they're Irish. But that's because they're living here since they're born. And that's fine too. I just hope they won't forget they have French and Mauritian roots.

The author of the article has obviously spent most of his life in Ireland, so I can understand why he feels more Irish than Nigerian, and that's OK. I just think it's nearly impossible for someone who goes abroad as an adult to completely assimilate to his new country to the point of denying where he comes from. 

We should embrace our origins. I'm proud of being French and I'm proud of being so well integrated in Ireland. I also hope my kids will be proud to have been raised in three different cultures...even if I know they'll be Irish first!