Ireland Joining the British Commonwealth?

No, I am not rewriting history (unless I want to do a Harry Turtledove like book for this).  For readers who do not know this I belong to Michael Palin’s website, Palin’s Travels.


This is the question I posted”

I understand all the political issues. Economically, would Ireland have been better off remaining British, post Celtic Tiger with what we know now?

I especially value the opinion of my Irish born friend Loretto on these questions.  Here is what she provided:

 I once mentioned an article in the New York Post written by a British man who also is a history professor. His name escapes me, but I will post a link to that article which suggested that the Irish should have remained in the Common Wealth, even likening the UK to a caring nurse.

Though my own reaction was disbelief, there are a few, mostly based in NI, who support the idea. The article was called the Celtic Tiger has caught Mange. I will post link and my response to the article later.

Here it is:

and here is my response to it:

In a world where the rhetoric inevitably involves the words recession, bailout and bankrupt, populations of once thriving economies now know that the old adage ‘hind sight is 20/20’ indeed holds true. Andrew Roberts is one of many geniuses who can look back and give counsel.

In reading Andrew Roberts entertaining account of the crisis in Ireland, (New York Post Nov. 22 Beggared By The Euro) I found myself drifting from the focus of Roberts’ article, the idea of Ireland abandoning the Euro and ‘returning to parity’ with the pound sterling, my focus instead was on his use of language. There was an indisputable joy in his choice of words to describe the current Irish situation.

“The ‘Celtic Tiger’ has caught mange and is scratching itself raw.”

“To whine about it afterward, as the Irish are now doing, is rather like complaining of the loss of one’s virginity after enthusiastically taking part in an orgy.”

“Ireland didn’t do too badly out of her connection with Britain. As an integral part of Britain between 1800 and 1922 it received the benefits of the Enlightenment.”

I will scratch at the “Celtic Tiger” comment first. Ireland’s experience of wealth and prosperity during the economic boom was long awaited for and well deserved. We opened our doors to many nations and shared the prosperity, and in so doing were praised for it. The issue in Ireland became one of too much too soon. Like the current housing economy in Florida, the Irish were sold an idea that they could have it all, only bigger and better. Having gone without for decades and centuries, the prospect of having it all was enticing. The Irish are not alone in this line of thinking. Global economies such as Florida and Dubai fell under the same spell. So the real issue is; who cast the spell? Construction companies, banks and political leaders who looked the other way. I laughed at the Celtic Tiger comment when I read it the first time.

Now I will whine about the Irish loss of financial virginity. Though I struggle to see the connection between the current IMF bailout in Ireland and the men of the 1916 rising, and, like Roberts, agree that Ireland gave up a certain amount of its independence in joining the Euro on Jan. 1 1999; it is important to keep in mind that not every Irish person was part of the orgy. That is to say, not every body in Ireland benefited from the economic boom. Being an ex-pat living in America I could see many changes when I returned to Ireland. Those changes were predominantly among those who already had money prior to the boom. People like my mother, a widow living alone, were struggling to meet the higher cost of living in Ireland when the Euro became national currency. Retailers rounded prices up, but salaries remained at the same level.

Not everyone enjoyed the orgy, because not everyone was invited. Yet, like the situation in Britain and Greece and Spain and Portugal, even those who did not benefit from the boom will be punished by the austerity measures.

Finally, “Ireland didn’t do too badly out of her connection with Britain. As an integral part of Britain between 1800 and 1922 it received the benefits of the Enlightenment.”

The Irish have a lot to be thankful for; We managed to rescue our culture and heritage despite the 1801 Act of Union and the brutality of the Penal Laws which forbade the Irish to speak Irish, be educated, practice Catholicism, be taxed for refurbishing their homes and made lawful the inheritance of homes to those who abandoned Catholicism and embraced Protestantism. Let us not forget the exportation of grain from the country during the years of the famine and Cromwell’s plantations.

To contradict Roberts’ assertion that the Irish could not stomach the prospect of abandoning the Euro in favor of returning to parity with the pound sterling, I will add that I have often wondered what would have happened if Ireland had remained part of the British Commonwealth. Canada, India and others seem to have benefited from their participation. Yet, if I might be granted the same backward glancing genius that the New York Post has permitted Roberts; I think it is not without difficulty that we should understand Ireland’s hesitancy to join the Commonwealth. We accepted the hand that fed us, so to speak.

If Ireland’s greatest mistake was wanting prosperity, then it may join the ranks of many other nations, England included. To deride a nation for wanting more is to ridicule your own countrymen Mister Roberts. I wouldn’t dare scorn the English people for the current situation in Britain, for it is not the English people who caused the recession, but banks and greed. Upon seeing students rioting in the streets of London I mused that it was only a matter of time before the Irish did the same. Compassion it would seem is part of “the ever-charming” Irish.

We are all in this together. To deliberately use language to mock the current crisis in Ireland and use incorrect historical statements to support your argument is damaging in the least and divisive at the worst. At a time when populations should be united in a quest to discover what went wrong and develop strategies to prevent it from ever happening again Roberts’ article encourages a Victorian view point of division.

To the people of England and Ireland I would strongly urge continued peaceful relations. We have more in common than we have that differentiates. I will thank Roberts’ for his remark that the Irish are ‘ever-charming,’ when it is genuine and less condescending than it appears in the context of his recent article.

Do whatever you would like with information posted. It is a legit question, should Ireland return to the commonwealth? But most of us remember hearing parents tell stories of what their parents lived through during the 1916 rising and after so very few, in the south would embrace the idea.

Now I have to be fair and say the Irish in some instances reacted foolishly to English occupation in Ireland. By the banks of Lough Derg in the town where I grew up you could see what used to be a railroad track. My brother says that the locals destroyed the English built track and made sheds out if it!


Please be civil and debate this rationally.



About tucsonmike

I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and now live in Tucson, Arizona. I have discovered a passion for writing. I have five books out now, with a sixth on the way. Take a look @ my book list: The Search for Livingstone An Affair of the Heart The Search for Otzi Griffith Justice in Space. Moriarty The Life and Times of a Criminal Genius Available now on Smashwords - Amazon and Barnes and Noble As to not bore my public with just "Buy my book," I am also interested in baseball, the outdoors, art, architecture, technology, the human mind and DNA. I learned Ashkenazi Jews, of which I am one, have to lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. Therefore, I treat my brain as a muscle needing a workout. I enjoy good food, flirtation, beautiful women (I am happily married for thirty years), so just flirting ;) I was considered autistic when I was young, trying to figure out if I have a mild form of Aspergers and learning from that. That is for future posts. You can also see I love history. Enjoy my sarcastic silly look at the world, and making History more interesting than a textbook.
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2 Responses to Ireland Joining the British Commonwealth?

  1. Well done – this belongs in my favorite periodical, The Economist!!!

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