Eamon De Valera was not a chap renowned for a sense of humour. A stiff prim man, he was a founding father of the Irish Free State and crafted the constitution.
Apparently during negotiations with the British government he became so exasperated with the lack of knowledge about Irish history that he started to provide lectures on it. Which must have been a laugh. When asked how the talks were going, he said “Very good – we’re up to 1798.” That’s a good line.
For the Irish, the past is not another country. It’s an absolute part of the here and now
This may well be apocryphal but it’s indicative. For the Irish, the past is not another country. It’s an absolute part of the here and now. I have relatives whose faces darken at the mere mention of the potato famine.
The De Valera tale also shows the Irish don’t like to be played for fools, to be dismissed as clod-hopping lesser cousins who’ll do the bidding of their overseers over the water.
This surely is known.
It means the gathering storm around the Irish border post-Brexit should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. And that any deflection, any shifting of responsibility from those who voted for it to those who have to live with the decision, will not be met with a passive smile.