Niamh Lear: Human Geography, Rugby and Passport Paddies

October 01, 2020 00:55:24
Niamh Lear: Human Geography, Rugby and Passport Paddies
The Plastic Podcasts
Niamh Lear: Human Geography, Rugby and Passport Paddies
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Show Notes

After a week away we’re back in full flow with Niamh Lear, whose current PhD thesis at Newcastle University studies the curious phenomenon of “Passport Paddies.”

Reviving the spirit of the salon, we talk geography, history and Boyzone, plus our unexpected family connection.

Also, Jess Moriarty places the legend that is Edna O’Brien on The Plastic Pedestal…

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:03 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:22 How are you doing? I'm Doug Giovanni and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else, find us and subscribe to [email protected] Today we're going truly intellectual here at the plastic podcasts. We've had many, a literary doctor taking part, but this is the first time we've had a PhD student in human geography, Neve Lear as a third year PhD student at new castle university, and is currently looking at the curious phenomenon of passport patties. It also turns out that she and I share a curious familial bond, but the first thing I want to know is what the heck is human geography. Speaker 2 00:01:04 I like to think of geography as the subject that uses all the other subjects to try and describe the world. Um, and human geography is concerned with more human than physical geography. So population migration and development, and there's so many, anything that you can kind of argue is to do with space and like this wonderful, wonderful PhDs in our department, um, ranging from like, uh, green activism to toilets and toilet usage. Uh, so yeah, it's a very broad subject, very broad subject. That's why I like it. It kind of gives you a lot of freedom. And how did you get into studying human geography? I loved geography at school. Geography was my favorite subject and I kept going with it when I was trying to decide what I wanted to study at university. Um, my undergraduate geography was kind of the, the obvious choice. So I ended up studying geography at Newcastle. I stayed at new castle the whole way through, and then I've ended up doing a master's and a PhD. We're still here, Speaker 1 00:02:08 Back in the back in the days when, uh, when, when I was, um, uh, when I was at school and we were still using slate, um, juggle people were fairly dry stew and dry subject to be taught. I mean, so I'd go. What was it that fascinated you? Speaker 2 00:02:21 I, I mean, I was good at it, which I think always helps, especially when you're like 13, 14 years old, like something that you find easy helps, but as I got older and into it a bit more, I just, it was the breadth. And the fact, I felt like you were so free to study or look at pretty much anything Speaker 1 00:02:43 Coloring and maps you see, and that loses its sheen very, very good. Speaker 2 00:02:47 I do really love like colored in things. I'm huge on my highlighter collections. And I feel like that is fostered within geography quite nicely. I can have like an insane collection of pens and that there's less judgment than there would be if I was doing maths. Speaker 3 00:03:02 So you decided to look at the human geography, particularly where the diaspora was concerned. Speaker 2 00:03:06 I did. Yeah. Um, that's funny story, actually, I w it was my second year of university and I picked Newcastle specifically because I could do physical geography and human geography on the one course and a lot of places it's that group. So you either do human or physical. Um, and I was determined. I want to do both. And in my second year I had picked some physical geography modules and there's one particular one that required me to go on a field trip and be in, um, like waiters in a river on my birthday. And I decided that wasn't for me, so switched. And the only module I could switch to was, um, social geographies. And I like strolled into this lecture theater. Um, the day I switched not really knowing where it was or what it was doing. And there's a lecture being given by, um, a teaching fellow at the university, um, called Michael Richardson. And he was talking about like, um, how would say, well, buy environments and things like that. And then at the end, he spoke about his PhD research, um, which was on Irish masculinities in Tyneside. And I was like, Oh, you can, you can study Irishness. No. And then I went to go and talk to him about it. And then I did my undergraduate dissertation on it, and he supervised it and passed forward what five years? And he's my supervisor for my PhD. So his fault. Speaker 3 00:04:35 Why did it surprise you that Irishness could be studied? Speaker 2 00:04:39 I guess it just never really occurred to me that there was a body of work looking at that, like, as I said, like now, um, I I'm, I'm always floored and excited by the breadth of research that's being done, um, in geography, sociology and politics more broadly. Um, but like, especially back then, it had never occurred to me that like people were looking at things like the Irish diaspora, and then like, I was just fascinated that, that, that, that was a thing. And I think it it's as a member of that community, it's always been something that's really interested me. And there's been so many questions that I have about why things are the way they are or why my Lyft reality is different from someone else. Who's got a similar heritage to me and I wanted to know why, and it sort of gave me the space to figure it out. Um, so in many ways it's completely self-indulgent project. Um, but you know, that's okay. Speaker 3 00:05:39 You say that, but you did a 10 minute presentation, um, that, um, this, the way, the reason I first became aware of you and your work was that there was a 10 minute presentation that was forwarded to me by one of our guests, John O'Donohue. And that seemed to have created something he was serving or circles people who've reached out to me Speaker 2 00:05:58 For it. Um, which has been really, it's been amazing. Like I'm, I'm very lucky. Uh, it was part of the British association of Irish studies, uh, conference. We meant to do it in person. And obviously because of the pandemic, it became an online event and I put this conference paper up and so many people were interested. I wanted to talk about it. Um, or we just reached out to me to, to tell me that story. So generously and it's been great. And it was just this little presentation about possible patties and hierarchies of Irishness. Speaker 3 00:06:34 Well, we'll come onto such heady stuff later, but this all started, as I understand from, um, watching the rugby. Speaker 2 00:06:41 Yes, the rugby always the rugby. Um, so my mother, um, is a Irish immigrant content, Mayo, uh, a Devani like yourself. And, um, I was born in Bedford chair, uh, which is like in quite a rural part of Bedford chair, tiny little bit edge, don't have a shop. And, uh, the rugby was a big part of, of our lives, my parents and my family more generally really into sport and any excuse to have sport on, have some friends rather than have some food and some beers. And we, the six nations would like the highlights of the year. And we would have all of our friends, my parents' friends, and like, my mom's best friend is my best. Friend's mom said, like, they'd all come around and we'd watch the rugby. And especially on the Ireland, England games, particularly on the Ireland, England beans, it was my mom in a room full of English people. Speaker 2 00:07:41 And obviously she's there in her Irish Jersey and everyone else's in their English jerseys. Um, and she's only one chairing for Ireland. And so I chaired for Ireland with her, like this is from the age of four or five, six, very young, always cheered for Ireland. And, um, my mum has a tri-color flag, uh, does there's no St. Georgia slug allowed in the house. She did let us have England football jerseys for the world cups, but she was drawing a line at a flag. And I would especially like if I'd entered one, um, I'd run up and down the road with the flag tied to my back. Um, and if Ireland had been England, I would hang out the front of the house or our neighbors as well, and went on and beat Wales, I'd go and like knock on his door. Where, where am I flag? And it made me feel very, I was very like outwardly patriotic for Ireland. And I think in, in like solidarity with my mum, um, whereas my brother would support Wales cause it was in between the two Speaker 3 00:08:39 QR at some. It's interesting though, isn't it Ireland, um, made itself known internationally as far as, um, what was concerned particularly with, um, with, with the, uh, with the Italian 90 world cup and an awful lot of, uh, an awful lot of my interviewees are. So I cited that as like something of a turning point in the, that the, the, the, the RFDS pretended to present themselves in this country. Right. Speaker 2 00:08:58 I think that has been, I think the whole of the nineties were very transformative. Um, 1994 was the year that, uh, Ireland qualified for the world cup winning that didn't. And I was six months old at the time, and there's a picture of me in a high chair gripping to, to abide in flags with an odd and tightened and on a t-shirt on, cause my mom really, really took all the Liberty. She could, uh, she was absolutely thrilled, um, that England had unqualified. Um, but you know, I think the nineties more broadly, um, obviously you have had arguably a deescalation and tensions between the two nations in terms of the, the Northern Irish conflict, um, and the eventual signing of the good Friday agreement. And so the, the sort of negative relationships of the 1980s, um, were still there. Like, don't get me wrong, but those tensions are still present, but they were definitely less comparatively. Speaker 2 00:09:51 And you had, as you say, starting today for, in 1990, you had the night-night four world cup, you had Jack Charlton, you had the, the beginning of boys zone and Westlife, um, and the witch and these big Irish bands who were kind of setting a different form of Irishness. So suddenly, uh, speaking about islands in this country, it was being, I mean, in my thesis, I argued that it was deep politicized through the 1990s and the 2010s. And just like the first half of the 21st century, we had just been deep politicized by this sort of like pop culture, movement sports, um, from Ireland. And that sort of helped deescalate the tensions and change the way that we perceive Irishness in England. Um, I was speaking to my mom the other day and she was saying, um, she emigrated in 1985 and she walked out of work at one point, um, and left and said she wasn't coming back into it because she was getting so much like, I mean, it's difficult calling it racism because of all the brightly. So like the, the, the negative sort of connotations. And, but she was getting so much bigotry towards her for being Irish and that she, she walked out of work. And, and for me that seems like such a foreign foreign concept because I'm in this generation where suddenly it's like a trendy thing to have and Irish granny. Um, and that was so close to like my lifetime. Speaker 3 00:11:26 Why would you shy away from calling it racism? Do you think? Speaker 2 00:11:29 I wouldn't necessarily shy away from it. I think there are really unhelpful parallels, particularly in the last six months that have been drawn between, um, Irish migration and the Irish cause, um, and brightly like the, the bigotry that has been shown towards Irish people and, um, the S the slave movement, uh, the slave trade and things like that. And I don't believe that those are helpful or in any way comparable. Um, I do think there is anti Iris racism, I think, particularly in the 1980s. Um, um, probably before that, but I don't necessarily think within our current context racism, I don't know that it it's really difficult cause I'm like, is it racism? Is it different? Is it a different form of bigotry? I don't know what it is exactly, but I don't, like, I think probably anti retrace is potentially a better way to describe it, but I, I don't like, I wouldn't want to be drawing parallels between that situation. And, um, the racism is, is seen towards, um, BME communities in this country, particularly contemporarily. Speaker 1 00:12:50 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. We all come from somewhere else Navely or is something of a first for the plastic podcasts being the only one of my interviews thus far to be part of that legendary group, the millennials, I wanted to know a bit more about growing up plastic in the nineties. Speaker 2 00:13:09 I was a very pale red headed child who had to name that. Um, especially we had supply teachers, they'd go, we don't go down the register and they'd stop at my name cause they couldn't pronounce it. And I think in a lot of ways, like I, I displayed my Irishness as like a counter towards that. Like it's like, why is your name spelled funny? Oh, well I'm Irish. Um, and I was always very proud of it. And I think my mom raised us to be very outwardly Irish and I, I do looking back and I think in some ways that's a, from speaking to other people who I've researched, um, I think it's a very similar experience. A lot of people that parents really pushed Irishness. Um, and in some ways I think that was their defense against the fact that they left, um, was really like channeling home the Irishness in their children Speaker 1 00:14:09 Going to that because it's, it's, it's quite, it's quite interesting because, um, you represent a, a new, a different generation to the ones that we, that we normally interview. And likewise, the same is true of your mother. Um, coming across in the 1980s, rather than saying the 1950s and 1960s, the what, what, what was it that brought her across? Speaker 2 00:14:29 Um, she first came across like the early 1980s in the summers to work, um, as did all of her siblings, um, and her brothers, her work in a union and sort of construction jobs. And she was working as a receptionist, I think, um, in a swimming pool, which my dad was running. Um, and that was how she met my dad. And so she was coming over in the summers to work and then eventually she came over for a weekend or for a visit or something, and then never went back and just stayed sort of by accident. So it was partly economics and partly because she met my dad, but I think just the, the, in the 1980s that the economic situation in Ireland. Wasn't great. So I think she probably would have ended up immigrating anyway. It's just, would it have happened at the same time? Speaker 2 00:15:27 Would she have immigrated to London? Like who knows, but out of her, she's one of five and all, but one of them left and I think that's quite a common tale, um, particularly for the West of Ireland. And particularly at that sort of, that sort of time, what does she do now? Now she is a kept woman at the moment. Uh, she at Woxna bank, uh, she went for, I'll be asking most of my life. And then as I got older, um, my Irish grandmother came to live with us. Um, my mom cared for her while she was sick and then my brother was sick for a bit. So my mum cared for her and she's been, she's been caring for people for the last decade, really. Um, my dad's mum and my dad's dad. Uh, and now she's just having a bit of time to herself, hopefully enjoying it. You know, she's getting on a bit, Speaker 4 00:16:21 You say you were, uh, born and raised in Bedfordshire. I think it's towards Milton Keynes area. Speaker 2 00:16:27 Yeah. So between Bedford and Milton Keynes master martini. Speaker 4 00:16:31 And what was the family home like? Was it two, is it, uh, loud and boisterous was a quiet and calm? Speaker 2 00:16:37 Oh, no, it was very, my parents worked really long hours. They worked really hard, but it was always, it was with people around, there was always family visiting. There was always food go in. Do you know, they were, it was busy and there was music and there was fun. Like it was a really fun household. Um, it was always some level of sport on, or we were going somewhere to do something or visiting someone or someone was coming to see us. Like it was, it was very busy sports, a big thing with your family. Yes. Huge, huge. I take tennis, a sporting competition that doesn't grace, the TV screens in the little household. Um, my dad's really into sport. My brother's really into sport. My mom's really into school. Um, so yeah, football, rugby, tennis, Snoop. I remember being forced to watch it. My Irish grandma loved sneaker, loved it. Speaker 2 00:17:35 And you sort of sit and watch sneaker game after Snoopy game after sneaker game. And then there was, cause we paid a lot of cards. I mean, we still play a lot of cards, comparatively to a lot of other families that as I've grown up and I've gone to other places and into people's households, just something like, Oh wait, you, you don't play cards. Whereas I get seen as a Cardinal sin to shuffle in a particular way in my house. Like my granny would like, she would lose the shit. You couldn't, you couldn't be shuffling with the deck facing outwards. And every single time I forced my boyfriend to play cards. I'm like, can you can't shuffle like that because he would, that was never do you know what I mean? Like, it was such a big thing in our household and, and it just, it just hasn't been for a lot of other people, I don't think. Speaker 4 00:18:20 And with the aunts and uncles who came across. So, um, is it much the same? Speaker 2 00:18:25 My mom's twin brother is in London, um, on the house. It's always, absolutely just busy people doing stuff. My uncle's so loud. Um, he's deaf in one ear. Um, he's just very shouty and wonderful. Uh, and my aunt is in America. She's got a very three kids, very busy. I think it's, I wrote, I think it's just, I don't know whether that's the family or what it is, but it's always sort of go, go, go, go. Like, there's always food offered to do you know what I mean? Like you could drop by with two minutes notice and there'd be, there'd be food waiting for if you needed it. And just a lovely, welcoming, like kind and giving sort of family, um, space that I was brought up in. And I think as you get older, I mean, I say that I'm not that old, but you, you appreciate that more because you learn that not everyone has that same setup or that same situation. And, and it is really a wonderful thing that my aunt, God bless her. Um, for my degree, we would do in a field trip to New York and I texted her being like, Hey, come command. Some of my friends come and stay. So I bought four girls and just dumped ourselves on her for Easter one year. Um, and she's not a bother, you know, she'd like, they're just wonderful, wonderful people. Speaker 4 00:19:55 So that actually brings us very, very neatly onto, um, your academic career, I suppose, which is, um, uh, we always, uh, we, we use studious childhood. Speaker 2 00:20:07 Oh God, no, I was a very lazy student. Um, like at school, I, I, I did my work in essence. No bother, absolutely fine. But I was, I found school sounds really stuck up. I didn't mean that, but I found the academic system in like in, in secondary school, like relatively easy. Like I understood it. I knew how to do it. I knew how to pass an exam. I kind of had the knock to it and I, I worked in education for a bit and I is a, not like you can be very, very intelligent, but if you don't know how to pass the exam, you're not going to pass the exam. And so I was just very lazy because I knew I could do it. And I was, I worked hard. I don't mean like I didn't work hard, but I, I think what really got me when I got to university was that suddenly I did have to work. Um, whereas I D I hadn't had to before. Um, so I would, I mean, even once I'd finished my undergraduate degree, I would never have ever imagined I'd be doing a PhD. Speaker 3 00:21:18 What do you, what do you folks think about, um, about, uh, about to the potential of Dr. Neve? Leah? Speaker 2 00:21:24 I think that just astounded. Um, my I'm very lucky. Both my grandmothers lived with me. Um, my dad's mom for pretty much all of my life and my grandmother for five or six years of my life. And my Nan was so proud. God bless her. So, um, she had a little, um, photo frame that was up in her living room that had, uh, my undergraduate graduation picture, my master's graduation picture. And then in the middle, there was a picture of my dad when he graduated from his, uh, a course that he did at some point. And she's like, that's in there as a placeholder until you, Speaker 3 00:22:10 But your doctorate Speaker 2 00:22:14 Go dress to. So, um, and I think my, like my parents, neither of my parents, well, my mom dropped out of university to move to England and married my dad. And so neither of my parents have the, have a degree, um, but a university degree that they didn't go to university and go and get their degree and do what I've done. And I think they're just Speaker 2 00:22:36 Amazed. They're very supported. I remember when I was looking to go to university and, um, it, wasn't the sort of thing that was questioned by my school. Like, it was like, uh, your, a high achieving student, always you're going to go to university. And I remember going to my parents and talking about it and my dad was like, yeah, go to university, but don't go. Unless, you know, you want to do that was that no one had ever said that to me before, because it was just sort of like our education system is very geared towards just going to university. And I don't think it's the right thing for a lot of people. And I think it's really detrimental to a lot of people to be pushed into it or not be given the opportunity to think about it. And my parents were very, they bought me thinking about it and I really, really appreciate that. And I think I was very lucky to have that. And, um, as much as I have no idea how I ended up doing a PhD, at least it was, um, going into my undergraduate. At least it was very thought through. Um, but now I think they're very proud of me shop mostly Speaker 4 00:23:47 Well, good Lord. I mean, I feel proud of myself because that's, I'm, I'm possibly a member of the family by extension Speaker 2 00:23:55 Your cousin or something. Speaker 4 00:23:57 And when we do the, uh, the, if you've seen that the, uh, the website that we have, but we've got, um, uh, we, we, we do the, the, the, the Irish, the Irish crest or shield or whatever, however they, uh, they like to sell uh, placemats and tablecloths and, uh, and, and coasters nowadays. Um, so I may well have, have the, um, I'm not sure there's one full year. No. So would you mind if we did the Devonte one? Speaker 2 00:24:28 It's a really Speaker 4 00:24:28 Weird one because it's, it's, it's kind of the red hand of Ulster Speaker 2 00:24:32 Kicked out by the Brits. Uh, I'm funded by the SRC. My conference last year was in Belfast. So I went to Belfast with first time in my life, and I was like, all those. And so I was in Palestine in June and had been, and I'd seen the walls and like, um, it was an incredible trip. Like you must go. Um, but did that. And then I was in Belfast like three months later and I was like, Oh my God, there's, there's walls up. Like, still up here, the same as I've seen in, in Palestine. I mean, like walls divide in communities. And I was just like, absolutely shocked and astounded that as someone who has lived in this country, my whole life, I had never been made aware, or I'd never realized I, like, I knew that there was stuff going on, but I just, I didn't realize that there were still walls. Speaker 2 00:25:32 Do you know what I mean? Like, it, it was like the, the troubles were sort of the thing that sort of happened maybe, but it it's, it's ongoing and it's, it's painful. And it, the scars are still there, like physically across the landscape and it is shameful and it is frustrating when people don't recognize it or talk about it. And I think the amount of people in my life who voted for Brexit and who lived through the troubles and who, when I said to them, after the Brexit vote, being like, well, what about Northern Ireland? And what about the city? Like, is, can you not see how this is going to complicate the situation in Northern Ireland? And they're like, I never even thought of that. And I was like, war was happening in our country. Like, whatever your P your feelings on those non-data, it was happening in some way that is ruled by the British government, like in, in the country that you live in, that was going on and you just forgot about it, and it didn't occur to you. Like it's so, so shocking and really speaks to the ignorance, um, within, I don't want to say the British public, like it is within the British public, but the ignorance is facilitated by the fact that we, we seem to want to just erase anything that might look negatively on, on Britain from our education system and from our head address, the history syllabus, and just the fact that people can forget. Do you know what I mean? It's, uh, it's just shocking. Speaker 1 00:27:15 <inaudible>, we'll be back with Navy air in a moment, but now it's time to raise yet another member of the diaspora up onto the plastic pedestal this week. It's just Moriarty on Edna O'Brien. Speaker 2 00:27:32 So when I was very young, so I'm kind of thinking of when a faint cause I, I can remember reading them and none of my friends were reading these books. Um, and I did find them quite shocking when I read them as well. So I'm trying, I reckon I might've been about 12 or 13 when my Nan gave me these books to read. Um, and it just being completely new to me, like new stories, like these weren't stories that were kind of Enid, Blyton, um, stories. These were kinds of three dimensional people who I could believe in and who I was kind of, um, fascinated with and who weren't one dimensional or one thing they weren't good and they weren't bad. They were, they were kind of a whole mix of things and, and, and, and, and, uh, uh, products of their experiences and their mental health and everything too. Um, so, uh, so yeah, so I just thought what a good writer, what insight, what a way to portray the human condition and somebody obviously really interested in, um, uh, uh, kind of human condition as well. So it's, uh, so I'd say, I know Brian was kind of one of the best writers, um, writing in a, kind of really three dimensional, vivid, evocative way that, that, and connected me to my Nan as well, Speaker 1 00:28:49 Jess Moriarty there. And if you want to hear more of our interview with Jess, why not go to www.passypodcasts.com or indeed seek us out on Spotify, iTunes, or Amazon now back to Neve Lear. And right now, I want to know what she means by passport patties. Speaker 2 00:29:08 My research has focused on the second-generation Irish in Britain, uh, specifically in London, um, and how they're experiencing, uh, and negotiating their Irish identity in, uh, Brexit, Britain. And so I think like most people would have heard of the increase in passwords for the applications, um, particularly from second and third generation Irish people, uh, after the Brexit, but because obviously an Irish possible you retain your EU citizenship. And I'm looking not just at people who have applied for passports, but looking at like an area of an area of the diaspora, um, millennials. So people born sort of mid eighties, uh, up until 1990. Ooh, nice seven I think is I'll call them should know though in my head, but I don't. Um, but the millennial sort of generation, so people who were born, um, sort of not born after the troubles, but kind of came of age after the good Friday agreement was signed. And, um, and how that, how that either identifying more with their Irish identity, some of them have always had Irish passports, um, have had them since Brexit, some haven't applied yet. Some wouldn't consider applying and just looking at the different ways that, that, that the identity and the way they're choosing to express it has, or hasn't been changed by the vote to leave the European union. Speaker 2 00:30:46 Yes. I mean, I wouldn't like to say that I came up with it. I haven't seen other people using it before I used it, but that's not to say it's mine. Um, it, the way I just I'm describing the people who have accessed that Irish citizenship for that possible, um, as a result of the Brexit referendum, um, and it's just a sort of play on the P the plastic party, which, uh, I got for most of my life and I still get. Um, and so I think when you look at when, um, when you look at this, all those people I'm speaking to, there are some people who've always had their passports. And for a lot of them, they're, they're quite concerned about people who are accessing their passports now, and in the sense that they feel they've had their authenticity and the authenticity of their identity questioned and challenged their whole life. Speaker 2 00:31:48 Um, which, I mean, I relate to, like, it's, you're always trying to defend it. And they there's been quite a backlash again against the increase in occupations in the last four or five years in Ireland. Like people aren't happy about it and people do feel like there's a lot of people who are just jumping on the bandwagon. So, so to speak, just to get an assistantship, and it's particularly complicated by the, um, the national, the assistantship in Ireland. Um, the fact that people who are born in that country are not necessarily entitled to citizenship. Um, rightly so like that is seen as unfair that people then who've never even stepped foot in Ireland, uh, accessing that assistantship and this sort of backlash you see, then people who have been called plastics or, or how have that authenticity question in that way that their whole lives then I'll turn around and trying to separate themselves from people who are just trying to get a passport. Um, I'm saying that with air quotes around it, I that's, that's not my personal perspective of it, but, um, a lot of people do think of it like that, and that, that creates these new boundaries between them as people who've accessed their Irish citizenship, because they are Irish. And because they feel Irish and whether or not there's European, um, benefits applied to it. And then this new wave of, of what I've called possible patties Speaker 3 00:33:18 Has something similar happened with other diasporas from other European countries. Speaker 2 00:33:23 There has been, uh, applications, Italian. I think the, the thing is the Irish, the, the citizenship laws with Ireland is in 2004, the referendum, I think it was 2004, kind of pushed it towards really valuing descent, um, so that you can access it when you've not been born in the country, which is, and it isn't the same rules for all, all the other European nations. Um, so I'm pretty sure Italy has similar, similar guidelines, uh, but it it's been huge, huge with, with Ireland particularly. And I think part of that does, does come from the situation in Northern Ireland and the fact that everyone knows non-indigenous entitled to it, an Irish passport. Um, but that has been a huge increase. And I think also just the, the prevalence of people with an Irish grandparents, so many people in, in Britain have one Irish grandparents, uh, and that's what you need to, to be eligible, um, as a result of the 2004 referendum. Um, so although it is happening, it's not happening to quite the same scale. Speaker 3 00:34:37 Right. I was just wondering if it was a specific Irish problem or if there was a comparable situation going on in Europe, but also I wonder, um, is it the fact that Britain is involved in this? Speaker 2 00:34:48 I think that in terms of the like negativity towards it. Yes. Yeah. I think that definitely plays a part. Um, inevitably there are tensions between Ireland and Britain and as someone who would identify as both English and Irish, but as an Irish citizen, I, I see it every day and it's played out every day like that, that low level bubbling tensions a lot of the time, but there's always comments and there's always that sort of, um, yeah, I thought just sort of discourse around it. And I don't think it's helpful this, this idea of a British person with an Irish grandparent who's been to Ireland. Who's part of this, this league of British exceptionalism. That's voted for Brexit now wanting to access the Irish assistantship. I think there's a really sort of negative, um, rightly so I think like that sort of imagery like that, that's not great. And I think Irish people rightly are defensive of their Irishness and their citizenship and, and don't necessarily want particularly the British and taking some sort of ownership of that. Speaker 4 00:36:07 That's a very, very specific, that's, that's a huge number of qualifications to place on the person though, isn't it? Yeah. Um, you know, the, the, the, the British that they never set foot in, not that they voted Brexit and all this sort of thing. And it's, it seems to me that where the, the, the notion that the Island's biggest export is it's people that this is, this, isn't just a one way street here that, uh, the Ireland and Irish, and this has been sold across the world and to the benefit of as much as the chagrin of the Irish. Speaker 2 00:36:41 Well, yeah, exactly. I think, um, I think this, this idea that it's like Brexit voting people who've never been to Ireland to are trying to get Irish passports. Now, I, in my experience, probably people I've spoken to and the people that I've interviewed as part of my research, none of them that's their experience. A lot of them, they've got an Irish parent, they spent all their summers at home and in Ireland, and they, they felt Irish. I just always had a British passport because it didn't matter. Like there wasn't huge, huge issues, either way, whatever you had. But as I said, late in the 1990s and the early noughties, like this sort of political aspect of Irishness was taken away. So I I've been speaking to people who are, um, like born in the 1960s in Britain as second-generation Irish. And they have a very different experience of it, like choosing to be Irish came with a huge, huge burden, um, as, as you're, well, at being Irish in the 1980s, it wasn't easy. Speaker 2 00:37:43 And identifying as Irish as a second generation person in the 1980s, it was, it was taken aside, it was taking a political stance, whereas in 2000 and 2001, it wasn't quite the same thing. It was, it was lot easier where you would just, just needed to possible. Do you know? And it, it didn't matter. Both of them had the same entitlements and you lived in Britain. So a lot of people had a British passport and it was easy enough for them. And it's, it's now that there are differences in what you're entitled to. And now that things aren't necessarily the same. And, and crucially, I think now that Britishness is representing something that a lot of people don't identify with, people are now looking to, to the Irish class when it's not just a jump to a nationality. I think we have to always bear in mind that holding a possible of any description is a huge privilege. It's not just something you just go and get, and there's a lot of money involved. There's a lot of finding documentation involved. Like it it's huge work. And I think, I think it's really reductive of it to just say, they, they just want a passport. Speaker 1 00:39:01 You're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora, and the last part of this interview with nivo earlier, we talk about the impact of recent events on that deeper digitization of Ireland that her generation have enjoyed inevitably the, the, the B word hovers over us as our great reach out of, and, and, and clearly this week in particular. And you talked about earlier, the idea that, um, if for your generation, the notions of Ireland and Irish ness become deep politicized, do you think that's true? Speaker 2 00:39:34 Well, here you go. Here's a little exclusive into my, my, my conclusions to my PhD. Um, I think, I think it's changed. I think Irish identity is politicized once again, and I think it's becoming politicized because of Brexit. Um, like the amount of, when I, when I set out to do my research, I was like, Oh, I wonder if people will feel more Irish because they've got an Irish passport. And for some people, I think, I think they felt more Irish, but the biggest thing was that they wanted an Irish passport not to feel more Irish, like not necessarily like that, that the, the primary motivation wasn't necessarily that they were going to get EU rights and they could have framed movement. Like that was all like nice additional extras. Mostly it was about rejecting the British exceptionalism that Nigel Farrage and Boris Johnson have come to, to represent. Speaker 2 00:40:32 And that Brexit has represented globally in, in the last five, four or five years. Um, you might have people just saying that they didn't want to hold a British passport and get off of a plane going into a European country that they didn't want to have to hand that over because they didn't recognize or identify with, or agree with the, the sort of rhetoric that the leave campaign were pedaling and the, the anti migration sort of vibe that, that was underlying a lot of that discourse and that they really don't identify with it. And in that sense that in this, in a similar way, that in the 1980s, you, you picked what side you were on and the troubles that they're picking aside now that, that rejecting, um, that, that, that viewpoint and that a lot of young people disagree. I don't want to say all of them obviously, but it's. Yeah. So I think it is Brexit is replenish Irish, the second generation Irish. Speaker 4 00:41:43 Um, and so the cycle goes around again, because as we were discussing in our preamble to this interview, you, you were talking about how the Republic of Ireland exists as a, as an opposite. Speaker 2 00:41:55 Yeah. So I mean, Irishness, as we know it today, the, it, it's an Irish-ness developed of a nationalist movement. Um, if you look back into the history of Irish dance and all the history of the GAA or things like that, a lot of it came from the diaspora. So people who there's a point not into, I like you, you, you would struggle to play the gate at games and things like that. Like, it wasn't, it wasn't allowed. And, Oh, it was, I'm pretty sure it wasn't allowed. Um, it was definitely frowned upon. And so those sorts of elements of Irish culture were sustained in the diaspora. People went abroad, people went to America and they could, they could play them, or they could, they could do Irish dance and, and they could sustain that, that Irishness, which is a resistance to, to Britishness and to specifically Englishness, um, the usage of like Britain United Kingdom, England is, is very specific. Speaker 2 00:43:02 Um, because Englishness quests often get subbed in for Britishness and Britishness is not the same as Englishness. Um, but Englishness as, uh, things sort of overtake Britishness. Um, so I do mean Englishness in, in that, in that sense. Um, and so, so the Irishness that we know, like the, the, the country in itself exists as a reaction to Britain. And I don't mean that, that, like, I didn't didn't exist for Britain. Of course it did, but the Republic of Ireland as a nation state exists as a rejection of British and the British empire. And therefore, you're sort of that, that's why I think you have American Irish, you don't have British Irish because the two times just don't go together. You have the Birmingham, Irish, or the London Irish, or the Tyneside Irish. You don't really have British Irish, even though there's so many British and Irish people. Speaker 2 00:44:17 And that that's, it was wasn't until 2011. I don't think that Irishness was even an option on the census, um, for your ethnicity. I think it was, um, so like the, Oh, like there's so many Irish migrants in this country. There's no official statistics on it. Cause it's not really measured very easily. They don't really know exactly how many Irish people are here. Um, and I know, um, I'm pretty sure it was 2011 census. They introduced Irish in the ethnicity column and they thought more people would, would select that. And that would give them a better idea of people who were English or British or Welsh or Scottish, but who had Irish ancestry. But very few people actually selected the Irish for the ethnicity. Um, because it's very hard, I think a loss also cause a lot of people commute in some senses between the two countries. Um, they don't necessarily live full time in either place. And so that the numbers are very wavy. Like no one, there's no definitive number. Um, there's so many people who have mixed Irish, British ancestry, but you, you can't be British and Irish at the same time. Speaker 4 00:45:40 No, I think it is. And also it's like a, it also becomes a thing where you identify as white other, I think it was, it was the phrase that was, was used and they, you put to one side a, uh, a population that includes the mixed race, Irish, diaspora, um, and, and so forth. But what I wanted to talk about was just how the, how the, how the history of this goes in, in the kind of cycle that, um, the, the adopting of a, of a, of an Irish passport is a rejection of petitioners in the modern same way as the founding of the Irish state of the, uh, the Republic of Ireland is a rejection of Britishness. Speaker 2 00:46:17 Yeah. I think there's definite parallels to be drawn there. Like it is interesting. Um, as I said, like it's once again, looking at the second generation of the 1980s and how they, they made a political statement with their Irishness, and that is what we're seeing currently in the millennial second generation who are making a political statement with their Irishness. Speaker 4 00:46:46 Then we also have it. And dare I say that across the water, there is another, another cycle going on there, which is this notion of Ireland for the Irish, which is the, the, the, the, um, the reaction against the people that we described as possible patties here, uh, mean. So there's a much more a sense of, uh, some people want them to show up that notion of being as on being as, uh, as, as the home of the Irish and, and to almost reject the notion of the diaspora. Speaker 2 00:47:19 I think that that's a really, that's not really a new thing. The, the, um, Speaker 4 00:47:27 Brexit though, it might be a dangerous yes. Speaker 2 00:47:30 And not if Brexit, it might be a dangerous thing, but I think, I don't know. I feel like there's always been hostility between those who remained and those who left. And I don't, I think it's really tricky. I think there is a sense because traditionally, I don't know, it's, the traditional is not the right word. Um, historically people have immigrated from Ireland because they've had to, um, whether it's been common or if it's economic downturns recession, um, it's been a necessity for them to leave. And I think there has been a sort of discourse of them, like jumping ship and going off for this easier life, somewhere else, where someone stayed back and how have, have struggled through those difficult times. And so I think there is a sense of like, well, in my hierarchies of Irishness, I call them like the pocket parties that we never jumped ship. Speaker 2 00:48:37 We've always been here and we'll always be here and they're sort of at the top of the pyramid. And then you have those who've left who are a little bit less Irish because of it. You do have the, the combat. Um, I was reading something, I can't think for the life of me who it's by, which is terrible. Um, the other day about, um, how people who have left and have returned the, uh, the elastic, Irish elastic parties, the ones who've gone back, the boomerangs, um, how that is a different sort of hierarchy in Ireland of them being like, well, you've never left. You don't know what else is out there. Um, but for, for the purposes of these conversations, I think it's very much like the, those who stayed feel like they struggled and that those who left sort of gave up and had an easier, an easier time of it. Um, that's not to say everyone did or everyone does, but I think the rest that sort of feeling someone under the surface, I'm like, fair enough. It was, it was tough. And, um, and, and has been, and I'm sure it will be again. And, and it goes in cycles. Doesn't it? Speaker 3 00:49:53 Well, it's been the response, um, when you got across to Ireland, in order to your research to, to, to the paper that you're, you're, you're preparing Speaker 2 00:50:00 This one, I haven't actually taken this, this one, um, to Ireland, but generally people are quite interested in it. Um, I haven't had, I mean, you get the odd, the odd comment, um, uh, generally something along the lines of all plastics. Um, but I think generally people are quite open to understanding and wanting to know a little bit more, because I do think it is whether or not you, you like the fact that there are people applying from all passports or whether or not you like it. I think I was speaking to someone the other day about it. And I think they were just excited about the fact that it was something addressing the, the British thought that they were like, well, Brexit is stupid, isn't it? And it almost felt like, like they felt like it was a one-up on, on England. Speaker 4 00:51:01 I mean, it's, it's a, it's certainly the case with, with, with these podcasts as well. And as much as we're not just commenting on Irishness, we're also commenting on English and as British call it what you will it's, it's, it's the, it's the, um, it's the life within this country as experienced by people whose either themselves or their forebears who come from somewhere else who are for want of a better term exiled from the, from their home, from their home country, because they, they, they, they come across not so much out of choice, but out of necessity, um, Speaker 2 00:51:32 Who come out of choice. And I think that like a lot of people had to leave, but many people chose to leave. Do you know? So I think we have to, I dunno, recognize that as well. Like I think Ireland has had a terrible time of it in a lot of ways. Um, and, um, I don't, I wouldn't want to deny that, but it's not all been terrible all of the time. No, no, no. But I think that the, the sort of discourse around the Irish migrant is like a poor starving 1980s peasant. And actually the reality is, is particularly during the, the year the Celtic tiger, like the Irish are very, well-educated very qualified economic migrants who weren't necessarily leaving because they have to, um, and there's a lot of capital and a lot of power in the Irish they asked for anything. That's something we should celebrate. Speaker 4 00:52:29 One final question, which is what does being a member of the Astra mean to you? Speaker 2 00:52:36 Oh, God, that's such a question. Speaker 4 00:52:40 Um, Speaker 2 00:52:43 Does being a member of the Irish diaspora mean to me? Um, I think, Speaker 4 00:52:47 Yes, bruh. I say diaspora, I say potato. Speaker 2 00:52:53 I think for me, it's, it's, it's so much to do with family. Um, like my mom's got a really big family now, my dad's family great, but there's not many attempts, you know, and my mom's got this big far-reaching family and it's, it's, it's that, and it's having those connections and the possibilities that lay within that. And in the sense that there are people who, who are related to me in some stretch of something who are all over the world, doing weird and wonderful things. And that sort of gives you hope. So what you can do, because you've got so many different experiences that people have had. And then they're not just like these distant people who don't exist there. People who have the same great-grandparents as you. And I think for me, that's knowing that and seeing, seeing the possibilities that life has, like when, when I was growing up in Bedford had like, it wasn't uncommon for people's cousins to go to the same school as them and for their parents to have gone to that school as well. And I remember that it would be in that wall where you go to the same school as your cousin, you know what I mean? Your cousins don't live a long way away, or like you don't have family in Chicago or like, and I, I'm always thankful for the breadth of experience that I have been able to see and observe and understand, and that the, the lack of impossibilities that, that has given me. And I think for me that that's, that's kind of what it means. I guess Speaker 3 00:54:48 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the RFDS, bruh. We all come from somewhere else with me, Doug Giovanni and my guest knee bed vastly pedestal was provided by Jess mariachi music by Jeff. Find out more about us and [email protected], or you can pay us a visit through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The prostate podcast has been sponsored using public funding by arts council, England.

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