Second-generation Irish and English popular culture

Interesting piece by David McWilliams in the latest issue of Prospect, looking at the cultural impact of the children of Irish immigrants on Britain. (Thanks to Gareth Young for the link) :

From John Lennon on, most of these English cultural icons have spoken fondly of their Irish roots and suggested that they have helped their creative drive. Morrissey’s 2004 single "Irish Blood, English Heart" speaks for itself. Johnny Rotten’s autobiography, No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish, sums up his sense of being an outsider growing up in Islington in the 1970s.
And on the eve of England hosting Euro ’96, at the height of the Britpop movement, Noel Gallagher was asked to pen the official England team anthem, to which he responded: "Over my dead body, mate, we’re Irish." For most, the attachment is more ambiguous; they can be English and Irish. One need not dominate the other. (Prospect, Subscription required)

I certainly agree with that last bit, although I’m not sure I’d like to
be labelled with McWilliams ‘HiBrit’ acronym. For one thing, most of
his examples are specifically English. the Irish in Scotland are a
distinct and much more visible phenomenon. Much of this ground was
covered, albeit from a slightly different perspective in Brian Dooley’s
book Choosing the Green?

One thing I think the second-generation can contribute is an
alternative sense of how national identity works, of how a new identity
can emerge out of civil society in opposition to official narratives.
That is what happened in Ireland, is happening now in Scotland, and may
have begun to happen in England. (Witness the utterly unofficial
revival of the St George’s Flag.)

Then again, there are HiBrits on the other side of that argument too. It was ever thus.



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