Proud to be Irish: St Patrick’s Day 2022
On St Patrick’s Day, Monarch Personnel Director, Pam Steed, reflects on her Irish roots and why the Irish are so proud of their heritage.
I was born in Everton, Liverpool. In my early teenage years my family moved to Rainford, near St. Helens or as Scousers will tell you, Woollyback Land! I’m proud of my Liverpool roots, and both sides of my family still live there, but in fact I’m 55% Irish. How on earth that percentage was worked out I will never know! I’ll spare you the potted history of my family tree though and simply say that with that formidable genetic combination I have a fair idea where I get my sense of humour and straight talking from!
Of course Ireland has always had strong links with Liverpool. Even before the Great Famine of the 1840s it is believed that the Irish contingent made up approximately 17% of Liverpool’s population. In the famine years over 1.5 million Irish citizens moved to the city. It is believed that even the Scouse accent was influenced by the influx of Irish citizens into Liverpool, particularly the guttural pronunciation of the letter K which is similar to how it is pronounced in Irish Gaelic.
Even though I’ve never lived in Ireland, I’m just as proud of my Irish heritage as I am of my beginnings as a Scouser. This got me thinking – what makes the Irish so overtly proud of their roots?
The Irish are a truly patriotic lot, no doubt in part because of the country’s troubled history. In the face of adversity, people come together, and this is certainly the case in Ireland. When you consider the repression of their Gaelic culture, famine, poverty and conflict, the Irish have had a lot to deal with over the years. Most Irish people I meet speak fondly of their homeland with a distinct sense of pride and I admire them for it.
A beautiful country
Ireland is a stunningly beautiful country. The lush, green scenery that goes on for miles, the rugged coastlines that have so many stories to tell, the wild and unspoilt terrain, the national parks, the cultural towns and cities and the incredible buildings and places of historical interest combine to create Ireland’s picturesque and inspirational landscape.
I’m always careful to avoid caricatures and stereotypes, particularly in my profession! But when you think of someone from Ireland the characteristics that automatically come to mind are cheerful, party-loving, hard-working, family focussed, loyal and funny. These aren’t from media representations, but from my own experiences.
Having researched posts on Twitter, it seems my perceptions are valid. It’s clear the Irish are proud of their sense of community, their hospitality, their outlook, positivity, heritage and achievements. They champion each other and provide a depth of community support that is rarely found elsewhere.
Food and drink
With its reputation for hearty meals such as Irish Stew, and drinks like Guinness and Irish ales, Ireland is proud of its quality of food and drink. The country boasts a rich heritage of dairy, sheep and cattle farms. Ireland is also known for its whiskey distilleries and breweries, with global brands such as Guinness, Jameson, Bushmills and Kilkenny. Being surrounded by water, Ireland is also known for its quality seafood. That’s a full menu to be proud of!
Ireland has produced many prominent writers, performers, philosophers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists. When you consider W B Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Maureen O’Hara, Ernest Walton, Seamus Heaney, Pierce Brosnan, George Bernard Shaw, U2, Van Morrison, Liam Neeson, George Best and Mary Robinson that’s a diverse, rich, cultural pedigree. Even JFK, the first Irish Catholic President of the United States was a County Wexford descendent!
Proud to be Irish
Many of us will have Irish heritage. If you have never researched your ancestry, perhaps you should, to find out if you too can be proud to be of Irish descent. Whatever your percentage, and however it came about, we should all celebrate St Patrick’s Day in whatever way suits us best.
For me, I shall raise a glass and say “Sláinte!” (cheers). Happy St Patrick’s Day!