Perhaps no group of people have been more ambivalent about their
English identity than those of us born in England of Irish descent.
It is no secret that the history of Anglo-Irish relations is in
large measure a story of conflict. At different times, each nation has
defined itself in opposition to the other, leaving little room for
those with connections to both.
But it was not always so. At the very dawn of English literature,
the Venerable Bede records the first contact between the two nations, a
literary and spiritual flowering which first brought Christianity to
the English, and then brought orthodox Catholicism to the Irish.
From my essay at the What England Means to Me website.