It’s been a grim week for Ireland but the dissenting voices are growing. Yes the government and the bankers have brought the country to their knees and thousands will flee to warmer more solvent countries but more and more people are saying why they will be staying.
Staying to see the worst through, to see the government fall, the economy collapse but staying because now there is a genuine opportunity to change. It started small a few days ago. A Twitter meme under the hashtag imnotleaving started to spread through the midday babble.
Then Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, editor of the Cork Independent wrote this on The Antiroom blog. Inspired by her words author Charlie Connelly, whose latest book Our Man in Hibernia details his first year in Ireland at the end of the boom wrote this.
Well at the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I’m not leaving either. I moved to Ireland with my family more than 20 years ago. This is my home, where I really grew up and where I always come back to. I met my husband here, made a home here, got the opportunity to do what I always dreamed of doing here. I have dear friends, valued colleagues and a country and a way of life I love. This is my country now and there is no way in hell I’m leaving now.
Ireland has the capacity to be such an incredible country. There seem to be two dominant personality types here perennially fighting for the upper hand. There’s the brilliant, stubborn, creative, impossible bollox who can charm and infuriate in equal parts but has the capacity to really change the way people think. The great egalitarian, the one who will refuse to bow to anyone and whose attitude when their back is against the wall and the chips are down is “Ah Feck It”, a refusal to be beaten. This is the character that has brought so many Irish to the tops of their fields, that creates those flashes of brilliance, an ability to create new ways of thinking and to buck the trends.
Then there’s the other one. The sleeveen, the cute hoor. A character identified by a slavish obsequiousness, a blind assimilation of a set of ideas and values. This is the character of the middle manager, the combination of a lack of real ability and a ruthless ambition to feather their own nest. These two characters have appeared throughout Irish history. There were the free thinkers who could have built a shining new republic, and the priest ridden, conservatives who wanted nothing more than jobs for the boys.
We’ve allowed the sleeveen free reign for far too long. It’s time now for a new start with the better character. We need those flashes of brilliance, that lateral thinking, the guts, the drive and the creativity to raise Ireland up out of the mess it’s got itself into. It’s here. It never went away. I just hope people will realise that it’s not change that’s the scary thing, it’s staying with the status quo that got us into this mess. It’s time to see the best of the Irish. I’m going to be sticking around to see that happen.