Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Ireland's Identity Crisis

(I invite and welcome debate and external perspectives on the issues discussed in this hub as it is very sensitive and therefore is rarely discussed in the public domain).

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy claimed his first PGA Tour win in some style on May 2 and in doing so he elevated himself into the status of sporting icon in his homeland. Even before his victory at Quail Hollow it seemed like his destiny to become the world’s best golfer, and now even more so. However, many experts were saying exactly the same thing about Sergio Garcia over a decade ago. Despite this win, Rory still has many mental challenges ahead before we start labelling him as heir to Tiger’s throne.

Of course being from Northern Ireland will be a challenge in itself. As yet Rory has remained quiet in terms of where his allegiance lies, whether he considers himself British or Irish, unionist or nationalist. These are decisions he will have to think carefully about because like it or not, the Irish on both sides of the border are obsessed with the subject. His identity will doubtless be a talking point, perhaps not in America and perhaps not publicly either, but people from Northern Ireland, Britain and the Republic of Ireland are already talking about it and will speculate over it until his identity is revealed. McIlroy has been very discreet surrounding his affiliations, if he has any, and it is virtually impossible to find information on this matter.

Flag of Rep. of Ireland
Flag of Rep. of Ireland

Irish Sporting Mess

In 2009 Rory McIlroy and newly crowned US Open champion Graeme McDowell participated in the Golf World Cup where they represented Ireland under the Republic's tricolour flag despite both players being from Northern Ireland.

Unofficial Flag of Northern Ireland
Unofficial Flag of Northern Ireland

This is in contrast to sports like Rugby and Cricket where Ireland is also represented by players from both the south and the north. However, in rugby and cricket a separate flag is used.

Irish Rugby Union Flag
Irish Rugby Union Flag

When one Irish team represents the whole island there is much sensitivity surrounding how the team is seen and how it portrays itself in competition. In rugby and cricket the Irish teams use their own unique politically compromised Irish flags. These flags bare little relation to the Republic’s tricolour, the North’s Ulster banner or Britain’s Union Jack.

Flag of the Irish Cricket
Flag of the Irish Cricket

A similar compromise is made during the playing of the national anthems before these sporting events. When the Irish rugby team plays a test match in the Republic, Amhrain na bhFiann(the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland) is followed by Ireland’s Call in order to respect the Northern Irishmen who are in the team. When Ireland play on foreign soil, Ireland’s Call is the only song played to represent the team.This is a song simply made up to act as a compromise and it is widely mocked by the fans of the team as having no value to supporters from the North or from the South. However, it achieved its initial goal which was to defuse the tension that threatened to split the team.

Rory and McDowell at a World Cup press conference - no Irish colours in sight
Rory and McDowell at a World Cup press conference - no Irish colours in sight

Whether McIlroy and McDowell knew they were playing for the tricolour I can't be sure but they were in contention to win the golf world cup until they were pipped at the post by the Italian Molinari brothers. The winners celebrated by adorning themselves in their national flag. How interesting it would have been to see how our Northern Irish duo would have celebrated. Would they have wrapped themselves in the green white and gold of the Republic? Would they have contradicted the scoreboard and held aloft the Ulster Banner? More likely, it would have been a careful colourless delight because the two players themselves were unsure who they were playing for.

Dennis Taylor - Former Snooker World Champion from Northern Ireland
Dennis Taylor - Former Snooker World Champion from Northern Ireland

Rory follows a line of sports people who have been confronted by similar issues. Dennis Taylor and Barry McGuigan both became world champions in 1985 when times were much more difficult. At that time the tension and hostility in Northern Ireland regularly resulted in violence. Taylor won the World Snooker Championship and like boxing champ McGuigan, he sat on the fence, wearing neutral colours, hoping to be a source of pride to both communities, and also hoping to bring those communities together. In essence Rory can do the same. He can remain quiet like his predecessors. However the pressure is not on McIlroy to the same extent. He is younger for a start and the violence in Northern Ireland has subsided. Golf is also not typically a working class sport. However he does live in a world of information. Rory’s website is decorated in the Ulster Banner, surely not by accident. This is a flag with an unofficial status in the North, despite regularly acting as official even though it is rejected by nationalists in the North. In days gone by this would symbolize Rory's acceptance of and loyalty to the British throne, and perhaps it is his way of publicizing his identity. But if, as his website suggests, he is British at heart, why would he agree to play for Ireland under the tricoulour?

Irish or British Identity

The issue I am most concerned about is Irish sporting identity. That is the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in sports that these grey areas still remain without clarification. It is my belief that two separate states should not be combining their sporting talent in some sports and stealing each other's talents in others. Of course here I am referring to the soccer players from the North who have opted in recent years to play for the Republic. There is genuine hostility between the respective fans as a result, and yet these same fans are obliged to unite together for a 'whole' Ireland in a different sport under some mickey mouse flag with a mickey mouse anthem. This is a problem that will be hugely difficult to navigate. The fact is that Rory will never be afforded the same warmth in the Republic that he gets in the North until he nails his colours to the mast.

The problem of identity is not Rory McIlroy's problem. He know's who he is. The problem of identity lies deep in the hearts of the Irish people, both North and South of the border. As a natural consequence of history, Republicans will find it difficult if not impossible to support a sports person from Northern Ireland who pledges allegiance to the British Monarch. Similarly Unionists will not go out of there way to support Republicans. When a sporting icon withdraws this piece of their identity, support of that sports person will become delicate.

Comments 254 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Very diifcult situation. It is sad though when politics gets into sport.

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Thanks Ethel, it is a very unique situation. It really comes down to national allegiance and sports people from Northern Ireland are in a very difficult position. They are afraid to wear 'colours' in case they come under fire or alienate half of Northern Ireland. However, if a sports person from the North does not clearly state that they do not consider themselves British, then they will not gain the support of people from the Republic, simple as that. Darren Clarke is the only major sports person to have adopted the tricolour flag and therefore won the hearts of Irish people.

It was interesting to see Graeme McDowell win the US Open title last night, after which he didn't adorn himself in any flag, which is often how sports people celebrate, particularly in indivdual sports. The media coverage has also been quite low key as British channels have not really highlighted that technically this is Britain's first Golf Major success for 11 years. He is universally Northern Irish and European, without mention of which Kingdom he really hails from.

Odhuig 6 years ago

"green white and gold of the Republic" The question should not be if Rory identifies himself under the green white and gold of the Republic but of the green white and orange of Ireland. The official colours of the national flag are Green White and Orange and the official name of the country of those of us that live in the 26 counties is Ireland.

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Odhuig - Of course technically you are absolutely correct, who am I to dare question what is 'official' in the land of compromise. However, where I am from, the Republic, the colours of Ireland are widely accepted as green, white and gold even though the flag itself suggests otherwise. Maybe it's a poetic thing or a historical affiliation with gold that we can't rid ourselves of in Tipperary, but certainly orange has no place whatsoever in the republic, it's presence is simply another in a long line of compromises. I would have preferred some considered insight on the subject at hand, rather than factual nit picking. Thanks for reading though.

Siobhan 6 years ago

It's disingenuous of you to say they play under a neutral banner when they use the so-called "Ulster flag". They choose to play under a flag that symbolizes England (George's cross on white background) and allegiance to the English crown (crown imposed on cross). If a person wants to play under a neutral banner, do so, I'm fine with that: I have no need for mass declarations of loyalty to anywhere, but there's nothing neutral about the "Ulster flag". By choosing it, they take a definite side.

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Hi Siobhan, I scanned the text quickly and can't find where I said the Ulster banner is neutral. Of course technically, in the constitution it is a flag representing all the people of Northern Ireland. Spiritually we know that is definitely not the case. I alluded to this when I questioned the presence of the Ulster banner on Rory's website. Thanks for reading and contributing.

Siobhan 6 years ago

Apologies: you didn't suggest it represented neutrality. I suppose I inferred it because I consistently hear sports commentators say the choice is one of neutrality and that really bothers me. The original Ulster flag was the Red Hand on a White Background. It seems to me that that would be more neutral than the current iteration.

GDOG 6 years ago

I think you raise some interesting points in your blog but I don't understand why some people are so obsessed with what "foot" Rory and Graeme "kick with"?!

Here's a bit of perspective for you. I'm Northern Irish and I hail from the Unionist community. However, I have absolutely zero problem calling myself Irish - as that is what I am. In fact I am very proud to call myself Irish ... and British for that matter! Because you see for some folk these terms are not mutually exclusive, you can be both.

Some people are hell bent on defining people like me, whereby I am not "proper" Irish unless I politically aspire for there to be a United Ireland. Ireland is an island - not a country/nation. However much some people want it to be something that it's not 1 million plus Unionists do not want a united Ireland ... but they're still Irish, if they want to be viewed as such, and should be accepted as such by their Southern brethren.

So what is the problem then on us having a neutral flag and a neutral anthem when we play sport together in an all-Ireland context? Anything else signifies a slight and a genuine lack of respect, usually towards those from north of the border.

I'm afraid that an attitude seems to persist in the Republic of contempt towards the northern Unionist. I can give you a few examples. I was once in a Dublin pub with my Scottish girlfriend, minding my own business and generally just enjoying a break in a great city. Out of nowhere when I approached the bar to order another drink the barman clocked my accent."So what passport have you got?", was his opening gambit. I'm sorry but that's none of his business - needless to say I turned around and escorted my partner out of the bar.

Second example, I was in Canada and got chatting to some Canadian folk. "Where you from", they asked? "I'm Irish", was my reply. One second later they tapped their mate on the shoulder - "Hey, Tony - this guy's Irish!". Tony was from Leitrim. He asks me "where from?". I say "Belfast". To which he tells his mates "he's not Irish!".

So in the midst of this kind of hostility - which is replicated in everyday NI society you expect Graeme and Rory to "nail their colours to the mast"! For whose benefit?

And as for Darren Clarke - I remember the incident you are talking about, when Paul McGinley forced him to don a tricolour at the end of a previous Ryder Cup. A really unnecessary and insensitive thing to do. People like Darren, Rory and Graeme have too much class to do the opposite and force their symbols on you. Why can't we be afforded the same respect?

William 6 years ago

Noticed today, at the end Ryder Cup victory, both Rory and Graham draped themselves in the Ulster Flag/Banner. As an Northen Irish Unionist I won't deny was a beautiful sight to behold.

Well done boys.

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

William, I'm sure it was, well done to both of them. I can't say I'm the biggest fan of the Ryder Cup because I don't consider myself European and I just don't have the passion for Europe. Of course I like to see Harrington do well but really I think the Ryder Cup gets most people going because there's a lot of bitterness towards America. I know that McIlroy considers himself British and hopefully the sight of the Ulster Banner will finally end the claims of the Irish media that he is in fact Irish when he clearly isn't. As for McDowell, well he's a bit different as he seemingly wants the best of both worlds which doesn't wash with most Irish people in the south. The tug of war between the Irish and British media for these guys is funny as hell but kind of pathetic. Our media are wrong but I guess RTE also serve the North so what can you expect.

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

GDOG - Thank you for your considered input. It's not surprising that a Unionist guy finds it hard to get why some people are obsessed by other people's affiliations. Of course it matters hugely to Irish fans if these guys are calling themselves Irish half the time. As far as the South is concerned, the opinion and wants of the one million or so Unionists in the North is completely irrelevant, as Unionists have no place on this island. Historical crimes have determined a unionist presence in Ireland. Even though people in the south understand that history like this should not be held against today’s population in the North, it is still very difficult to emerge from an Irish childhood without any contempt for the United Kingdom as it has been inbuilt through education and nurture. I can’t really speak for the entire Republic, but in Munster there is no such thing as an Irish unionist. That’s the true feeling, especially amongst the well educated guys who find it even more difficult to compromise and let things go.

You ask ‘what is the problem then on us having a neutral flag and a neutral anthem when we play sport together in an all-Ireland context? The problem is that Irish people have ‘compromised’ enough when our language was banned and our land was robbed. The suffering of our ancestors is in our hearts even today and to think that we are compromising our identity yet again, even for something as frivolous as sport is embarrassing. Those who delivered our independence deserved more from us than compromising the identity that they strived to keep alive.

The hostility you encounter in calling yourself Irish doesn’t surprise me in the least simply because a unionist from Northern Ireland is not the same nationality as the Republican from the south. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, you must agree, that we’re not the same. So when a guy from the North calls himself Irish, it feels to us like a diluted version of Irish, just the same as when Americans call themselves Irish when they’ve never set foot on Irish soil.

I don't expect Rory and Graeme to pin their colours to the mast, I'm just highlighting that the relationship between Irish supporters and Northern Irish sports people is hugely complicated especially when the Irish media are telling us these guys belong to the whole island and when they themselves are trying to gain the benefits of having support of both British and Irish fans.

Phil111 6 years ago

Can I just say that the 'Irish rugby union flag'above does not recognise NI as a separate entity. The four smaller crests/flags on the flag represents the 4 provinces of Ireland. NI is not a province but is positioned within Ulster. Ulster is the crest in the top right with the ancient Irish red hand of O'neil on it. Many counties of the republic of Ireland are also part of Ulster and use the same ulster flags their GAA jerseys. Whether we are Northern Irish or Southern Irish we are both Irish. The Irish sea separates us and Britain.

phil111 6 years ago

@ premierkj... You said you hoped that the ulster banner would clear up that McIlroy is British. You must not know what Ulster is. I live in County Monaghan. It's also in Ulster but is part of the republic of Ireland. We have the same crests on our GAA flags. That Ulster banner is Irish. We have the same for the 3 other provinces. The red hand on it symbolises that of the Irish legend O'neil. Hope that clears things up

Barry 6 years ago

Phil......Will you get your facts correct before posting. I am from county Donegal and you are factually incorrect when you state the "ulster banner is irish", that the ulster banner is part of any counties GAA crest and infer that it represents the historic province of Ulster, of which I am part. You are confusing the ulster banner (which always has been a symbol for the Unionist community of the north) with the flag of ulster, which has a yellow background and no crown or star. For a brief explanation of the ulster banner see below:

The flag is a heraldic banner taken from the coat of arms granted in 1924 which is based on the flag of England and the flag of Ulster, with the addition of a crown to symbolise the loyalty of Ulster unionists to the British Monarchy. As with the flag of Ulster, it contains the Red Hand of Ulster at the centre. The six pointed star represents the six counties that make up Northern Ireland. The flag is also sometimes referred to as the "Red Hand Flag", "the Flag of Northern Ireland", the "Northern Ireland flag" or as the "Ulster Flag" (not to be confused with the provincial Flag of Ulster).

The only part you have correct is the origins of the red hand itself, it is the ancient gaelic symbol of the O'Neill clan.

Barry 6 years ago

Hope that clears that up for you Phil!!!!

It’s sad that symbols still hold such a strong place in the hearts of minds of people on this island. Been from a nationalist background I would obviously have preferred if Rory had remained neutral in his choice of sporting banners ala Barry McGuigan, Denis Taylor, George Best and Eddie Irvine, just to name a few, but he hasn't. After Europe’s fantastic win yesterday he is pictured draped in the "ulster banner", that’s the flag of Northern Ireland not the province of Ulster Phil....., which clearly places him in the unionist camp in the eyes of most Irish people. That’s his prerogative and good luck to him, I would have preferred if he had chosen otherwise. That flag to nationalists is the same as the tricolour is to unionists and will cause division. So lets end this debate once and for all clearly Rory McIlroy identifies with unionist people of Northern Ireland.

Barry 6 years ago

Apologies, one small correction to my earlier post. The ulster banner is not the flag of Northern Ireland as it enjoys no official status since 1972. It use is primarily as a symbol for the unionist community of the north, so in no way could it be seen as a neutral symbol...ditto the tricolour!!

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Thanks Phil and Barry. I think Barry's response is also my response for Phil. I'm not sure whether the Ulster Banner is or isn't the official flag of Northern Ireland now, I'll look into it as certainly a variation of it must be the official flag because that's the flag that appears beside any Northern Irish sports people in competition.

Barry 6 years ago

The only official flag (for now :0) in the North is the Union Jack. The ulster banner has the same status as the tricolour, ie none!

The Northern Irish soccer team use it as their flag and they also use god save the queen for their anthem, but thats a whole other debate that I wont even begin with!!

premierkj profile image

premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Thanks for that Barry. It's kind of strange that the North has no official unique flag like Scotland or Wales. It's even more bizarre that we see the unofficial Ulster Banner labelling Northern Irish sports people. I mean when I look up a golf leader board the Ulster Banner is the symbol beside those guy's names. I'm sure they wouldn't object or anything I just find it strange that an unofficial divisive symbol acts as an official one, because as you know, I thought it was official all along. And so it all becomes even more complicated...

Raffer 6 years ago

Rory and GMAC were financed by the GUI as golf (like rugby)is an all Ireland sport.Ireland as a 32 county country got these guys to where they are today.when Ireland is represented as a team in golf ,a tricolour is used,as Rory and Gmac wore in the team matchplay recently.

The first flag GMAC help aloft yesterday (on the golf buggy) was the tricoulor.he was on the late late show a few weeks ago and declared himself Irish and said how sick he was when France knocked Rep of Ireland out of world cup.i must say i was sick when i saw Rory with the loyalist flag (THATS WHAT IT IS) and also in the past he stated that he will play for GB AND NI in the olypics,where as GMAC has said he will play for Ireland.its a pity that Rory has forgotten already who financed his amature career and has forgot that he wont even make the British olympic team as Westwood and Casey are higher in the rankings,whereas GMAC will partner Harrington for Ireland.hail hail GMAC.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Thanks Raffer, I understand your passion all too well and I like the way you've said exactly what you think which is admirable. I'm not sure about the whole financing and all that as I don't think anyone should be forced to be Irish or British or whatever over money. It's too close to bribery for my liking.Frankly, I don't concern myself with that issue as I'm sure there's British money from the North as part of the financing for GUI.

While GMAC and Rory were representing Ireland last year technically under the tri-colour, the absence of colours on their golfing attire was noticeable to me.

I knew I saw GMAC with a tri-coulour yesterday, thanks for confirming that but this just reinforces my earlier comments that Graeme is looking for the best of both worlds. I'm afraid holding aloft a tri-coulour means nothing to me if two minutes later you're draped in the Ulster Banner. If anything, it just shows a lack of understanding that won't wash in the Republic. However, if he competes for Ireland in the Olympics, that would change many things, particularly as the Irish Olympic team will never compromise the Irish identity and will always adopt the tri-colour and amhrain na bhfiann

Tinopuente 6 years ago

Interestingly I believe Rory is a Catholic and Graeme is a Protestant. They do both place emphasis on representing Ulster perhaps the apolitical correct thing to do. I do not think Rory or Graeme tied themselves anywhere yesterday as far as I can see at various times they carried both flags.

Conor 6 years ago

McDowell explained in his late late show appearance that he is going to stay on the fence on this issue because his mother is catholic and his father is protestant. He chooses not to take a side, but he would be happy to play for Ireland in the Olympics. I respect that choice he has made. As for Mcilroy, he is catholic, but grew up in a protestant town outside of Belfast, and is dating a protestant girl, so he too is in a difficult position. As a catholic from the north, I dont like that he held up a unionist flag after the Ryder Cup win and I think he has made a foolish career decision. I dont know if you noticed, but Padraig tried his hardest to get McDowell to hold up the tricolour flag while Rory was pushing the unionist banner around him. Rory went out of his way to fly the unionist flag. The English wont love Rory like the Irish would, they would rather support another English golfer. I currently live in America and can say that part of Mcilroy's allure and growing popularity is that they think he is Irish, and americans dont understand the difference. But in 2016 when the olympics are played, if Rory plays for Great Britain I think he will lose a lot of fans in Ireland and America.

Graeme understands that this is a difficult situation, and one that he is trying to be respectful of. Rory seems to not care, maybe it is because he is young and foolish, but someone should tell him that he will alienate himself.

Raffer 6 years ago

can we please all acknowlege that there are 9 counties in Ulster and 3 of them are in the republic of Ireland.i (from Monaghan) am getting sick of this Ulster thing.this is a Northern Ireland.just to note that the use of this loyalist flag in golf was forxced upon Darren Clarke as he was not happy to use the union jack.if you ever look back at Ryder cup footage you will notice Darren holding the troicoulor but allways the orange part (which is the correct use of the tricolour).

please look at this

does mcillroy even look interested in the tricolour? no

does mcdowell? yes.the guy has a brain and treats both flags equally.

shame on you rory.

nick s 6 years ago

"maybe it is because he is young and foolish" -- or maybe it's because someone who's 21 has spent more of his life post-Agreement than pre, and doesn't feel the need to make a kind of public statement of affiliation to one community. Ambivalence hasn't served Rory's generation too badly, and those who are older might learn from it.

Barry 6 years ago

Nick......where is the ambivalence in holding a unionist flag? Would you find it equally so ambivalent if he was holding the tricolour....get a grip!

Barry 6 years ago

Raffer can you post that link again please!

Raffer 6 years ago

just "google mcilroy tricolour utv player" and watch the las 4 mins

Raffer 6 years ago

sorry that should be " mcdowell tricolour utv player"

Raffer 6 years ago

dont believe this but UTV have edited this.the part where McDowell lifts tricolour with harrington as mcillroyis shoving the unionist flag in his face is edited can see Harrington handing him tricolour and then it cuts away.unbelievable.

Barry 6 years ago

Just saw it now Raffer. As I didn't see the pre-edited version I dont know what it was like, but you can Padraig about to hand Graeme the tricolour! Graeme is certainly trying to be much more neutral than Rory. Respect for that!

William 6 years ago

As a Northern Irish Unionist I find it quite sad that Rory has taken some stick from posters on here because he chooses to hold up an Ulster flag after the Ryder Cup. McDowell and Clarke (both from Unionist backgrounds) have no issue holding up a tricolour. I have no issue with them either. Why the obsession with Rory and the Ulster flag. His choice entirely and comments on this forum such as 'shame on you Rory' are out of order.

Well done Rory!

William 6 years ago

Also, re: the issue of the Ulster Flag not being Northern Ireland's 'official flag'. I can assure you that EVERY Unionist I have ever talked to on this subject, considers the Ulster flag, as their flag. I would strongly suspect that the vast majority of Unionists consider the Ulster flag to be the flag of their country. And proudly so.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

I have to say that I watched the video and cringed a little bit as I watched. There is no doubt that Rory and Padraig were both forcing flags onto McDowell. I' don't think it made Graeme uncomfortable but it did make me uncomfortable for him. I agree with William that to say 'shame on you Rory' is out of order. This article was never intended to judge these great sports guys based on their personal allegiances, but rather to highlight that a decision should be made one way or the other for the sake of the supporters. The evidence suggests that Rory has chosen to be loyal to the Queen and has chosen British allegiance, and I for one will respect his decision and praise him for having the courage to make it.

I also wrote this article because I couldn't find anywhere a discussion like the one we are having on the internet or in the media, and I'm glad it has provoked a largely healthy and open debate.

Finally, I wrote this article because I personally find it intolerable to pretend that Ireland is more united than it really is. I find all-Ireland sports irksome in their lack of true identity and unlike McDowell, I believe that you just can't wave both an Ulster Banner and a tri-colour and retain credibility.

William 6 years ago

You'll not be surprised that I agree with you on the issue of "All-Ireland" sporting teams. I feel not affinity towards the Ireland Rugby or Cricket Teams for example and I know many Unionists who feel the same. I do not feel these "All Ireland" Teams represent me.

Maybe that is because I do not feel Irish in any way. One or two posters earlier in this thread (from the Unionist community) commented that they have no issue being consider Irish, as well as British. In my experience that is not a wide spread feeling in my community. We have as much in common with the Irish as we do the French for example (nothing...other than sharing an island). On occasion, when asked my Nationality, I'll answer Northern Irish - for that is what I am. To answer simply "Irish" would feel hypocritical and very plastic!

I do not wish to offend true Irishmen or woman reading this but have simply shared my true feelings. No point beating around the bush!

Raffer 6 years ago

William,can i say again.i am from Monaghan and am very proud to be an ulster man.Do not call this an ulster flag.there are 9 counties in Ulster,this is not an ulster flag.please read the history of this is a banned loyalist flag.i am Ulster and proud and this is not our flag.i think what you are trying to say is that this is cocnsidered a norther Ireland flag.please stop including Donegal,Cavan and Monaghan in your comments.why did Mcilroy play for the tricolour in the recent world team cup if he is so proud to be British.?

William 6 years ago

Raffer, I am well aware there are 9 counties in Ulster. You'll be aware, I'm sure, that "Ulster" is an often used term for Northern Ireland/The Six Counties. Why do you refer to the flag as "a banned loyalist flag"? Where is it banned?

As regards Rory I've no idea if he's proud to be British. I certainly hope he is but I do not know him personally.

napalm 6 years ago

Ha! Where do you guys get off? If Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke or any other person from NI declares themselves to be Irish & British then that is what they are. Neither you, nor anyone else from the Republic... or Northern Ireland for that matter have any right to say different. You may have an opinion but that matters little to anyone but yourself. I am also Irish & British, not 50% Irish & 50% British but 100% Irish and British. For all i know you may have a different concept of what being Irish is to me but it it no more valid than my own Irishness. When sportsmen & women wrap themselves in an Ulster Banner (N.I.'s official flag up until 1972 and NOT a banned loyalist flag as some idiot claims) they are for the most part simply stating "I am from Northern Ireland". It may no longer be the official flag but it remains the only flag that uniquely represents Northern Ireland. Those who add political & religious connotations to that are the ones with the problem.

Simon 6 years ago

This is such a tricky subject. I'm from the Republic and did cringe when I saw Rory openly wave the Northern Irish flag around. In my mind I was hoping that he was 'one of us' because it's so unusual to have a Catholic align themselves to this flag. However the big issue for us 'South of the Border' is that we really don't understand how strong and proud Protestants are of their culture (well I won't say culture but more their allegience to the crown). I suggest you guys read the great book 'Northern Protestants' which gives an insight into their mentality. They are as fervent about their Britishness as we are about our Irishness. Many do see themselves as British and Irish (but I don't think they see the Irish part as being like one of us - more so that we share some history together). The sad part is that now that Rory has somehow slighted us I find it difficult to warm to him. In effect he has become 'one of them' and not 'one of us'. I know this is probably childish but I won't try to be politically correct and say otherwise. The funny thing is that I'm an atheist and detest what religion has done everywhere in the world. In the North I actually don't think it's about religion but more to do with a different cultural identities (which have been shaped by religion). I guess what I'm saying is that in years to come I think more and more people will see the folly of Religion which will just leave the cultural differences between both sides. For my part I wish Rory luck as he's an excellent golfer but I do think that if he is not seen as truly Irish he will lose a lot of goodwill among the Irish-Americans because he is a Catholic who has effectively 'sold-out' (this is not my opinion but what I think people will feel over there - I have lived in the states before for 10 years and the Irish over there are more old-school, black & white, don't understand what is going on' type). Good luck Rory but I think you of all people should understand the sensitivities of the flag and should look to Graeme for advice.

Renadex 6 years ago

Every time i watch him he plays so good and i just want to be like him :D I like his style of his swing and putting and driving and also his irons.

Jonathan 6 years ago

It may be a sad reflection on our troubled history but as an Irish man from Fermanagh, Rory managed to alienate himself by holding aloft (with such vigour), the loyalist alligned banner. I do not see myself remotely British and I would have took a short cut through the guy from Leitrim if he had told me, I wasn't what I have always known that I am. 100% Irish. Neither am I some loon who supports the individuals that planted the recent bombs in Derry or killed British soldiers in Masserene. I hold an Irish identity an Irish passport but pay my taxes to a British Queen because I live in an area currently controlled by the British government. Rory would have been so much better to stay neutral, as Greame mcDowell has tried to do. Well done Greame. Rory, lets see the British loyalty when things start to go wrong for you!

napalm 6 years ago

@Simon. I'm quite surprised to hear that people from the Republic have an issue with this. I thought it was mainly just an issue with many nationalists within Northern Ireland. You say you somehow feel slighted that a guy whom is not a citizen of the RoI and lives in the UK chose to hold his own flag and not the flag of YOUR country. That is something i find very interesting! I'm sure then you'll appreciate then how much more slighted some unionists might feel when a citizen of his own country chooses to play under the flag of a neighbouring nation.

Not sure what you mean when you say you were hoping he was 'one of us'. Do you mean Irish? But he is Irish, he's stated that himself but he is also proud to be from NORTHERN Ireland. Why do some people from the south have a problem with that? Someone here said that they wished Rory remained neutral but he (as well as Graeme) has played for Ireland and posed with the tricolour in the past, so is this their idea of being neutral?... ie, he can have his photo taken with the tricolour as many times as he likes but as long as he doesn't pose with THAT northern flag he remains neutral? Well i feel that the neutral position is the fact that he is happy to be pictured with BOTH flags. Remember G-Mac has also been photographed this week with the Ulster Banner around his neck as well as holding it proudly yet he has somehow remained 'neutral' according to you guys. I support Padraig Harrington yet i don't expect him to fly the Ulster Banner or remain neutral by refusing to acknowledge the tricolour. Why should it be different the other way around?

I read with interest when you say that those Unionists whom feel Irish don't particularly see themselves as being like one of you (in the Republic). I feel that is true in part. For instance I see myself as Irish but i don't look at Dublin as my Capitol city (that's Belfast)or see the tricolour as my flag. Yet i do see Ireland's rich arts & culture as part of my own. I guess i probably identify more with Ulster. Even a lot of my nationalist friends see people in the Republic as being a bit different. I guess 80 odd years of a border and exposure to differing cultural influences (TV, laws, money, government) can do that.

Can i just say in finishing that many people in NI don't look at the Ulster Banner as a loyalist flag, but simply as the flag of the place where they live. Thanks

William 6 years ago

Excellent post Napalm and nicely mirrors my own feelings on the subject. It's somewhat ironic how so many Nationalists/Republicans claim the Ulster Flag/Banner is a 'Sectarian' symbol and view it like it's some sort of KKK insignia. Yet that viewpoint alone is, indeed, sectarian.

What they need to keep in mind is that there are one million plus citizens in Northern Ireland who fly that flag/banner with pride. Live and let live people.

Also re Johnathon's quote: "I hold an Irish identity an Irish passport but pay my taxes to a British Queen because I live in an area currently controlled by the British government."

You make it sound like the British Government are taking taking taxes and controlling the area against the will of those that live there. I'll remind you that within the "British controlled" area where you live, the MAJORITY of people who share that area with you are very happy about the situation. And long may that continue Sir.

Simon 6 years ago

@ napalm: I don't understand why you think it's just an issue with only Nationalists in the North. I guess for me anyway I see the Nationalists as being the same as any other Irish person who lives in the Republic. Just because they live in the North doesn't take away from a 'shared identity'. It's only through an act of fate that they are in a different juristiction. We can't hide the fact that Northern Protestants have a different outlook and perspective than I do. I guess I grew up not understanding or wanting to understand your wishes or desires. It's only later in life that I took an interest in it.

@ William: I think the MAJORITY you speak of is not a large one. If lets say in a hundred years it was reversed would you still accept the will of the majority?

I hope this clears things up. I think the funny thing is that in the Republic religion is not a major issue. We have some many prominent protestants in authority. I didn't even realise this until they were actually pointed out to me. To finish the weird thing is that I think the Irish in the Republic have more empathy toward Protestants than the English et al. I don't think there is that much anomosity or illwill towards you guys as you think. I guess we would secretly hope that you would prefer to join us in a 'United' Ireland than look to Britain as your preferred alliance.

William 6 years ago

RE: Simon:

'@ William: I think the MAJORITY you speak of is not a large one. If lets say in a hundred years it was reversed would you still accept the will of the majority?'

Well Simon, one thing is for certain, I wouldn't bomb or shoot my way, in a (failed) attempt to impose my will upon the MAJORITY.

I hope we can agree on that?

Simon 6 years ago

@William: I wish I could say that I always felt that violence was not the way but I must admit that when I was younger in my late teens and early twenties I wouldn't say I favoured violence but I certaintly didn't agonise over some of the atrocities. It was definitely a time where the media influenced my view of the world. RTE would never say a police officer was murders but would us the term killed. It's slight nuances like this that diminished the severity of some of the violence. It's only in hignsight that I can say it was a brutal way to highlight the plight that many Catholics found themselves in. We can't rewrite history but only look to the future. What in your honest opinion is the future of relationships between the two communites? Is Devolution the answer?

Conor 6 years ago

I think it is important to point out that this is not a made up issue that only crazy nationalists are talking about. McDowell was specifically asked about the "Irish vs British" loyalty issue on his appearance on the Late Late show on RTE after winning the US Open. It is also apparent from previous posts that people from both the republic and the north felt uncomfortable at watching the celebratory scene with Rory Graeme and Padraig and the flags. It was awkward, you cant deny that. I have been a big fan of Rory and I think his game speaks for itself. Perhaps he was caught up in the moment and didn't truly understand that many people who see it as him "picking sides". He will however have to make a clear decision coming up to the 2016 Olympics, and I personally hope that he will decide to play for Ireland. Not only that, but I truly believe that it is the best decision for his legacy. Do you all think that if the English had to choose between supporting Mcilroy or Westwood, Poulter or Donald that they would choose Rory? He will never be cheered on by the brits like he would be by the Irish. Just one opinion though.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

William: "Well Simon, one thing is for certain, I wouldn't bomb or shoot my way, in a (failed) attempt to impose my will upon the MAJORITY." - William, I really don't think you can ever say that for certain unless you're in a desperate situation. There are always two sides to any war and let's not forget that you're ancestors murdered their way through this island in an attempt to impose their will upon the native Irish who lived here peacefully. They didn't invite trouble, it found them. I'm not saying I condone the loss of innocent lives because I think the native Irish people as you've pointed out should not have stooped to the level of the British but they were difficult times and I for one can't imagine what it was like in the North at that time especially for a minority who must have felt like unwelcome guests in their own home.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Conor, I think you're right that English, Welsh and Scotsmen will never really feel a sense of national pride in Rory McIlroy and for that reason their support will be rather muted. In Northern Ireland he will have plenty of support but I think he will always attract the support of any golf fan who turns up at any tournament because he is a nice guy and is a special player. Even after the revelations about TW he's still getting the support from the galleries. I know from an interview I read that McIlroy will opt to play for the UK in the Olympics ( ). As stated in the interview it will make it difficult for him to actually make the two man team with the likes of Westwood, Casey, Poulter, Davies, Laird etc all hoping to represent Britain. Rory may well end up caught between two stools and he can't really go back and compete for Ireland on the back of what he said. To be honest, I wouldn't want two guys from the North competing for Ireland anyway, McDowell and Harrington would be a nice balance.

Dub 6 years ago

Premierkj - This sort of comment ("To be honest, I wouldn't want two guys from the North competing for Ireland anyway") sums up the narrow minded, bigoted and at times contradictory arguments you have put across on this blog.

Why wouldn't you want two guys from the North?! - if they happen to be the best two players that want to play for Ireland then they should be the two to represent us.

And sometime read a little more history. I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'native Irish' (given that the island has had many groups living on it through the years - Vikings, Anglo-Normans, various Celtic groupings, Anglo-Saxons etc) but to state they 'lived here peacefully' shows a blatant disregard for the facts. There has been violence on this island for centuries caused by all manner of people and unfortunately the typical 'native Irish' response is to look to blame someone else for it all (usually the British).

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Dub - Why would anyone from the Republic of Ireland want their nation represented by guys from another state? I'm not a fan of recruiting English or Northern Irish guys for our football team so why would it be any different for golf just because golf thinks that Ireland is united? When a guy goes to represent me at the Olympics I want them to sing my national anthem and wear my colours and truly mean it, that's all. Would McIlroy mean it - no. Would McDowell mean it - probably not, but maybe. If there were two guys from the North who reject the Ulster Banner and are proud of the tri-colour and what it represents then I guess that's okay. I'd be more comfortable with at least one guy from this nation playing for us, whether it is Harrington, Lowry, Lawrie or whoever.

Perhaps some of my comments have contradicted the main article but you do understand that opinion evolves don't you? Some of the guys here, especially from the North have shared their opinions with me and that's altered the way I have looked at certain things.

As for my 'native Irish' remark, well I'm modest enough to admit that was a very general remark and what I meant was the settled people on this island at the time. I guess it's wrong of me to dismiss ancient history but at the same time the wrong doing's of Vikings don't make the British any less responsible for their actions. The reason Irish people blame the British for our tragic history is basically because its their fault. Did you miss the penal laws in history class and the reasons why so many Irish perished during the great famine? It's funny how education and modern day politics can make a guy so tolerant that he can't blame anyone for the truth. Maybe Irish people should apologize to the British for being so damn tempting to their relentless thirst for power.

William 6 years ago

@ Premierkj. It seems apparent from your posts that you consider Northern Ireland to be a separate country from the Republic. Is that a widely held view from citizens in the ROI in your opinion? It's certainly widely held (almost exclusively I'd say) within my own community here in NI but Nationalist/Republicans in the North would strongly disagree I'm sure. Hence their frequent references to the 'Occupied Six Counties' etc.

Do you consider Northern Ireland to be a serperate entity from the South or as an occupied part of your own country?

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Well William, I guess your question is what the whole thing boils down to and it's not an easy question to answer because there's so many variables. If I think about it in a historical context I'd say NI is an occupied part of my country but there isn't really much point in looking at it like that because what's done is done and it's impossible to change history. The guys in NI today aren't to blame for anything and it is your country today, entirely separate today from the Republic in my opinion. Unfortunately, it's hard to make a clean break due to the nationalists in the North but that's not their fault either. Most people from my area and generally in Munster accept that NI is a separate entity. However the media confuse the situation in a way by doing things like claiming great guys from the North and frankly these All-Ireland sports are a joke. I mean I can't be sure but I doubt that you get many Unionists at an Irish rugby match, if I was a Unionist I wouldn't feel much apart of it to be honest. I also doubt that you get too many Republicans at an Irish cricket game.

Basically the only guys who think that there's some kind of united Ireland is the nationalists in the North. I don't consider them the same as guys in the south. That might offend them but it's just the way I feel and a lot of guys I know feel the same. They just haven't been brought up in the Republic of Ireland and have had different experiences than we have. They're probably tougher guys than we are but still it's not the same.

Ultimately, my answer is that I recognise Northern Ireland as a country in its own right, and as you say a lot of guys around the border areas and up North won't agree with that.

Simon 6 years ago

@premierkj and @ William: I think premierkj represents about 1% of the population that believes that Nationalists in the North are not our brethern. Actually it horrifies me that someone should think that way. I wonder if Munster was annexed by the British and he was in a slight minority how would he feel about his fellow Irishmen abondoned him like he seems to have done to our friends in the North. (Not to say Protestants are not our friends). I'm sure it's down to the fact that he is young and doesn't have a full understanding or appreciation of Irish history.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Simon, if I was born into a minority I would obviously have been nurtured differently and I'd have an altogether different perspective. I'm sure I'd probably think I was Irish too. It's not a case of abandonment at all. I respect and sympathize with their situation but nobody in the south can truly say they understand what it feels like for Nationalists in the North and therefore we are very different people. Maybe sometimes we strive for the same thing and we share similar beliefs but we're coming from different places.

And please don't patronize me. I may not be an old guy or anything but I am closer to an educated way of thinking than most old guys. I'm young enough to still remember the history I was taught at school. What exactly is this so-called 'appreciation of Irish history'? Where does an old guy get this that a young guy can't? I'll bet it's more likely got in a pub than a school anyway.

Seriously, I don't get that, appreciation of history? Maybe it does mean something. Maybe it's something you get with life experience I don't know. I know for sure that a lack of 'appreciation' doesn't mean I don't understand our history and it doesn't mean I'm not fully aware of at least what my generation is thinking. Maybe that's what it is, a generation thing. My generation hasn't really experienced much history being made. I'll keep thinking.

William 6 years ago

@ Premierkj. Thank you for your frank answer. It is encouraging for myself, as a Unionist, to hear you speak of Northern Ireland as a country within it's own right. These are words I am unfamiliar with when spoken by Nationalists/Republicans. It is my hope, rather selfishly I suppose, that many more begin to think the way you think Premierkj. Regardless of how my country came about it is a fact today that the majority within it wish to remain loyal to their British roots. My family have been born and bred in County Down for many, many generations. I'm an not an Englishman or Scotsman who came across the Irish Sea and took your land. I believe the Good Friday Agreement is the best (and only?) chance we have of sharing this particular piece of land in a peaceful manner. Violence from paramilitary organisations (either side) will only bring more division and resentment.

I hope Rory is the new generation in many ways. From a Nationalist background he sees no issue with identifying with Unionist people.....Graham McDowell mirrors this on the other side of the coin. Maybe we should all take our lead from these two fine sportsmen.

Simon 6 years ago

@ Premierkj: You make a valid point about a generation thing but please don't make silly remarks like 'Where does an old guy get this that a young guy can't? I'll bet it's more likely got in a pub than a school anyway' - I don't drink and hate pubs. If you are going to argue a point don't inject pejorative silly comments (it's just juvenile).

What I mean by appreciation is that I grew up at a time when the 'plight of the Catholics' in the North was in the news almost every single day. It's different now. It obvious from your comments that you don't have an appreciation of Irish history because it silly to suggest that Catholics in the North are somehow not Irish. I just don't get it. I live in Dublin and I feel more close them 'mentally' than you.

Do you not see the point I was making earlier about Munster being annexed? That's what happened in Northern Ireland. The Land Commission created a border 'ad-hoc' which divided Ireland. It's purpose was to create a Protestant state for Protestant people. So when you 'buy the line' that the MAJORITY want to remain part of Britain do you not see that this is an atifically created border (and MAJORITY). We can't change history but throughout the centuries foreign cultures have eventually assimilated into the 'Irish Culture'. My firm belief is than in a hundred or more years Protestants will and should realise that the English don't want them. What do they offer Westminister. All Northern Ireland is is a drain on the British finances. Their politics is parochial. If you ask a normal Brit what they think of the North they don't give a damn. If you ask an Irishman they would invariably say it would be great to have Unification. That in the end will be the deciding force.

Now if we could just ban Religion and make you all see that God does not exist wouldn't life be perfect.

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premierkj 6 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Simon, we obviously grew up at different times but the way I look at it is that previous generations have made compromises that recognized NI as a free and separate state and I'm just trying to live by those compromises. I'm not trying to return to the past. I do find it strange that Rory McIlroy, a catholic guy has adopted the Ulster Banner and all that but maybe as William said it's a way of making a clean break and it might be good for everyone. Rory is clearly a part of my generation who is just playing by the rules that he was born into.

As for the religious aspect, well again I think my generation is way of ahead of you. Personally religion doesn't even come into my thinking. Yes it is another way in which we're different from Unionists but not for long. I don't know anyone my age who goes to mass or even humours the idea of everlasting life. Our differences as far as I'm concerned are cultural. We are culturally different from everyone in NI, and of course our allegiances are different from Unionists there. Religious differences are important only for older generations which in fairness is still causing unnecessary tension because of the so-called outspoken beliefs of the likes of Ian Paisley.

Simon 6 years ago

@premierkj: So by your reasoning if Munster was annexed and declared part of Britain then that would be great. Just accept it and move on. I wish life was that simple. I'm not sure where you are going with the religion thing. As I said I'm an atheist so you are preaching to the choir. I do believe that the differences are cultural but to suggest that Catholics/Nationalists are culturally different that us in the Republic is stretching it a bit. Have you actually met and talked to lads and lassies from the North. Did you have conversations with them. They, for the most part have exactly the same outlook and views on Ireland and being Irish as I do. When I lived in the States probably 25% of the Irish were from Northern Ireland. I couldn't see any difference between me and my views and them. When it comes down to it I actually think you don't know what you are talking about. You've set yourself up with an argument that just doesn't hold water. Anyways I'm finished with this thread. I like Rory (and for that matter Ian Paisley) but I'll always hold out the hope that my friends in the North on both side will eventually become part of an inclusive All-Ireland. If that doesn't happen, so be it, I'll settle for a devolved juristication where we in the South have as much say as the lads in Westminister. Good luck for now and thanks for the post.

William 6 years ago

@ Simon: "If you ask an Irishman they would invariably say it would be great to have Unification. That in the end will be the deciding force"

Wrong Sir. The 'deciding force' will be the people of the land in question - ie. Northern Ireland. Both Governments accept that to be the case and the majority of folks within Northern Ireland accept that to be the case. The sooner folks from outside my country, like yourself, stop interferring, the better.

Simon 6 years ago

@William: The point I was making is that my hope is in years to come the Protestants in the North might realise that they'd rather be with people who want them than ones that don't. Maybe this is a pipedream and I know this will not happen in my lifetime but I firmly believe it will happen sometime. I don't presume that all Protestants would go for this but I have met and spoken to many Protestants (moderates I will call them) that are not against this idea.

The issue I take with your comment is that you should never presume that true Irishmen will ignore Northern Ireland. It's as part of me as it is to you. I don't see a border as such. I was at the All-Ireland finals when Down were playing and I can tell you that those good people are as every bit Irish (and I don't mean Northern-Irish) as me. I honestly don't think you see that. Your comments are reminiscent of the days when Protestants were masters of their own domain. I don't like that mentality. Those days are gone (or are slowly dissipating at least). I have no beef at all with Northern Protestants. In fact they are probably more upright and conscientious as Catholics. My only hope that in time to come we can all live in peace. I don't understand why you are getting so angry about the comments I made especially that we should not interfere. So do you think that we in the Republic have no right to comment or have an input into the affaires of the North? That’s like saying that Tibetans shouldn’t comment on their state because it’s part of China or Palestinians shouldn’t raise concerns about Israel because it’s part of Israel.

I think you are mixing up interference with concern, respect and understanding.

Raffer 6 years ago

What they need to keep in mind is that there are one million plus citizens in Northern Ireland who fly that flag/banner with pride. Live and let live people


what a stupit now all people who reside in the north fly this loyalist flag? i think your figure should be 330,000.

as for Rory representing Ireland in the olympics ,no thanks.he has more or less said that if the brits dont pick him then Ireland will do , the brits can have him.Padraig and Gmac for me.

Alan 6 years ago

Rory McIlroy had always come across as a Unionist. In fairness, he was a Catholic in a Unionist town (Hollywood, Co Down, Orange marches included) so keeping his head down and doing as the locals did became normal for him. Hence he feels "Northern" Irish and British. In other words, he has no allegiance to the Irish nation. Sad to see an Irish catholic lack allegiance to his own ethnic culture but that's the scar of partition.

PremierKJ, I understand your points but I am assuming you have very little exposure to Northern nationalists. If you did then you'd know they are as Irish as me or you. I'm from Mayo. In many cases they are far more in tune with old Irish customs than people in the Republic.

Michael Collins was born and reared in the UK of Britain and Ireland. It made him no less an Irishman. Nationalists in the north are the same.

Graeme McDowell is a gentleman. I like the guy enormously and the way he tries to respect both traditions. Rory McIlroy is young and stupid by already stating he would choose Britain for the Olympics when it is years away. If he wants to alienate himself from the Irish nation he is on the right path.

Keith 6 years ago

Roy is a unionist/loyalist. Ulster men will not be moved. No Surrender.

Rhys 5 years ago

I didn't realise the sporting teams were a problem.

Whatever the economic/politcal/religious status of Northern Ireland. Those born on Ireland who sound Irish are Irish, similar to those born in Britain who sound Welsh, Scottish, English are British. Whether this means that they are of presidential inkling (Republic of Ireland) or to the Monarch is irrelevant to the sport isn't it?

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Thank you Rhys. Your comments are idealistic and practical but unfortunately a sports person's allegiance is relevant to the fans because as fans we want our heroes to represent what we believe in, or where we are from, and at a national level that is especially important. Those who are born on the Island of Ireland and are loyal to the Monarch are not Irish. I have become convinced that those born in the North, who are loyal to the Republic are 100% Irish. The divide is still strong although thankfully not as hate fuelled as it was.

Rick 5 years ago

I get what Rhys is saying, the thing is Ireland as an island is smaller than Scotland. Hence Ireland, playing with a N.Ireland team is nothing like a team of Britain.

Or even a Welsh and English team playing together.

Rich 5 years ago

He is what he is and is entitled to celebrate that with and for the people in his community while still making loads of sponsorship money from confused Americans who think he is something else. LOL

Rich 5 years ago

He's also more Irish than half the soccer team who play for a team that plays under the tricolor!

John 5 years ago

The very fact that you write about this subject means that you are as obsessed with the subject of nationality as the Republicans who you ridicule.

To me, the jingoistic nature of most debates on the subject of nationality is abhorrent. The microcosm of Northern Ireland demonstrates both the absurdity and tragic consequences of nationalism. Your seemingly convivial statement that you are both Irish and British makes you doubly culpable. I recommend you read Albert Einstein on the subject of nationalism. It is one of the few really sensible views on the subject.

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

John - Firstly, I am a Republican. Secondly, I am obsessed with the subject of nationality - it is an obsessional subject, you should know having read Einstein's theory on it. Thirdly, I haven't said I am British and Irish, just Irish whatever that means.

I agree with you that nationalism is absurd and inevitably tragic, but the problem with that argument, even though it is right, is that it isn't practical. Saying that it is absurd won't solve anything. It's like saying cancer is absurd. Nothing is going to happen if you say cancer is absurd. Nationalism will never disappear on the advice of Einstein or anybody else. Problems are more complex than that because what geniuses never seem to consider is that other people aren't as smart as they are and most people never will be. Most people grow up and are encouraged to be patriotic, and never even think about questioning that.

Your didactic response is abstract and simplistic at the same time. To break it down we shouldn't talk about nationality because it shouldn't exist, even though it does exist and will exist forever and a day.

'The World As I See It' 1934 - Is that the book?

Stevie hall 5 years ago

I find some of the blatant English bashing on here deplorable. People need to move on from history here in the same way the English need to move on from their anti German obsession. Yes the ruling few did some bad things to the Irish but guess what they also did to their own people so does that mean the English should hate the English too?

I am utterly sick of listening to Irish obsessions about how nasty the English are as if most of the population had a choice or involvement in what happened. I don't demand apologies from the Irish about the IRA atrocities and blame an entire nations people (generations later) for what happened. It is stupidity in the extreme. Is the current state that Ireland is in financially all Britain's fault too? Doubtless some people would be ignorant enough to say it is.

Many Scots were involved in what happened in Ireland too but they don t get blamed in the same way the English too because " they were not in charge". It is hilarious that people saying this cannot see the stupidity of this argument

As I eluded to earlier some English people themselves are masters of dumb arguments as this as well toward the Germans so it s a human trait not an Irish one but it really is puerile and epitomises today 's "it's not my fault" "history justifies my behaviour now" culture prevalent in Western society.

As for Rory, get off the guys back. It is disgraceful that a young guy should have to be paranoid over any comments about where he is from just because some people are too insecure and pathetic to accept his choice.

The starter of this blog began with credibility but with every swipe at the English loses the balance and objectivity with which the thread looked to have.

Move on and grow up guys.

Darren B 5 years ago

Stevie Hall,

You are kind of talking out of your ass there - maybe think the the next time

Nobody can defend IRA actions but you cannot and I mean cannot compare them to what was done here by the English.

You're right about history not justifying behaviour but its also a case that these things shouldn't be forgotten. Ireland and the UK are now huge trading partners (both ways) and both countries are inextricably linked

My issue has nothing to nationalist and unionist communities but more to do with the sport of golf as a whole in Ireland. It is like rugby and cricket, an all ireland game, and while these are team games and slightly different, it is slightly galling to see guys who have come through the Irish system the whole way, then turning their backs on it (the irish cricketers is another example althopugh that is a whole different story)

Personally I feel that Rory will become a bit more mature on this and like GMAC will sit on the fence - which if they don't have strong feelings either way is the best place for them

It is an unusual situation for them to be in and I'm perfectly happy for them to decribe themselves as British, Irish or ideally Northern Irish

Seanie 5 years ago

First of all the English State have on three separate occasions been responsible for the complete decimation of the Irish population. It'd be more in your line to compare the historic issues between the Jewish people and Germany rather than your nations gripes with the Germans.

On the other hand I play rugby in the south and regularly complete in the AIL with teams from the north who as you can imagine come from the Unionist community. They have all been nice people, not monsters who want me dead.

I follow OUR rugby team and go to most matches (so do Northerners by the way!) and have no problem cheering on any of the players regardless of their background, also I like to see ulster do well as they are at the minute.

Finally I am a Republican(In the sense that frankly I find the idea of a monarchy insulting to the intelligence of the common man). Does this all make sense? Of course it doesn't i'v read through all of the comments above and frankly its hard to find two comments that agree. Being Irish is complex and identities vary greatly from province to province.

Let's forget all this and cheer on the two boys. After all we are all stuck on the godforsaken island.

Still wouldn't want to be from anywhere else!

Stevie hall 5 years ago

To compare the Irish situation with the Jewish one is laughably

stupid. To blame everything on the English incredibly deluded and naïve.

The reason why NI situation does not move on and I dare say a reason why Ireland is now the joke of Europe ( despite getting whopping EU hand outs for years) is linked to the fact their peoples just cannot move on from the past and refuse to blame themselves at all or any Irish person whatsoever.

Will it still be England s fault in 100 years time?

I ll leave you guys to it and leave here ad despite some intelligent posts earlier in the thread it s clear that chip is just too big to engage in adult debate.

For the second time grow up and let Rory be who he wants.

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dcsouthside 5 years ago

Weel said Stevie. I am a Protestant from Dublin, must say i am sick to death of all this stuff. (yet must confess to being strangely drawn to this hub and reading every comment). i do wish we could just move on.

Firstly Rory can wave whatever damn flag he wants to, its his business and no-one elses. We live in a free society whether north or south of the border. I have always been proud of my background, never hid it from anyone. after 33 years in Dublin i can say no-one has ever discriminated against me, sure i get a bit of ribbing but usually after i have made some joke about paedo-priests etc. nothing more than a bit of banter. would like to hear some Northern Unionists give their opinion on a Prod from the Republic who is happy to stand under the Green White & ORANGE flag. (anyone who thinks its gold should read about its origin) i hate that a flag designed to represent peace between the two traditions has been hijacked by murdereing scum.

most educated young people really couldn't give a damn about this sh1te nowadays, and i am confident in time that this issue will subside through understanding and tolerance. In my experience bigots from either side are usually poorly educated morons who have never read an impartial history book in their lives. The very idea of irishness only came to prominence in the 1700s, prior to that you were aligned to a tribe with no sense of national identity at all. many of the Lords etc. were catholic and descended from Gaelic cheiftains, a fact which escapes many commentators.

Stevie hall 5 years ago

Spot on Dublinsouth, thankfully the Irish I meet, work with ( I go to Dublin every two weeks) are far more balanced and recognize the need to move on. Ireland has a lot going for it and it s spirit will ensure it climbs out of where it is thanks to people like DublinSouth not others that cannot move on from history.

Also don t forget I come here with no blinkers on over the idiotic nature of many English morons who I continually have to apologised for on trips abroad. This is not me saying my country is better than yours, it is merely me saying that even the foreigners who don't like England are tiring of hearing from Celtic countries how terrible the English are. I live in Luxembourg and know a lot of Germans French and Belgians.

English people need to move on from the war in the same way. It is crngeworthy watching behaviour before a Germany match. Unfortunately the average iq of an english football fan is 20 and they believe the media hype the same way some Irish believe every word of the one sided history they learn in school.

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dcsouthside 5 years ago

jaysus, looking at my spelling, atrocious! It strikes me that the average schmuck in england, ireland, Scotland and pretty much everywhere else in Europe all suffered terribly at the hands of an aristocratic class. i dont think there was too much difference in the lives of a typical person in dumbarton in 1800 as there was in Dublin, the rich aristocracy exploited them all equally. My Grandfather (a born-again Presbyterian who made Paisley look like the Pope!) told me his earliest memory was the local Lord arriving at his family's hovel/shack in Antrim on a horse to evict them from their home and toss them on the streets, its utterly incorrect to say it was the only "poor native Irish people" who suffered at the hands of Lords and landed gentry.

Lets get back to the Golf, Rory the irish/british/northern irelander/human being/brilliant golfer is doing well and i have a few quid on him, let financial gain unite us all!!

jamie 5 years ago

keep in mind the Irish aren't living in the past blaming the British for everything, we just want them off our island and out of our country - the fact that they continue their occupation means it's the brits living in the past .... rory can do what he wants but it's pretty close to fact that he'll never be fully accepted by the brits and he should keep that in mind

Hoglet 5 years ago

Just one thing the tri color is not green white and gold, but green white and orange, the green represents the traditional irish catholic community people the white represents peace and the orange represents the protestant community (orange order) of northern ireland. I understand the sensitivity of the issue but the flag is a symvol of peace for the Island of Ireland. It was adopted by the republic of ireland and hijacked in recent times by extremist movements but it was originally designed to emphasize peace between two different communities.

Gary 5 years ago

From a young (Lancastrian) Englishman's perspective...

Too many people are overly 'romantic' and simplistic when assessing the history of their nation.

It's a bit hackneyed i know, but a good number of people really do need to move on... keep your strong identities but stop the violence!

Take for instance the English animosity towards the French and Germans... the relationship's matured over the decades to the point that the rivalry is now almost ubiquitously friendly and light-hearted.

If a man from Northern Island regards himself Irish then so be it... and if the man across the street regards himself British then equally so. Both seem perfectly valid to me.

And if an American says he's Irish just accept that the man is delusional/retarded, and is undermining what non-Irish people like me see as being 'Irish'! (Which, plazzies aside, is either an Eire citizen or a Northern Irish nationalist)

I'd be extremely happy for Northern Ireland to stay part of the United Kingdom. At some point the Northern Irish probably will choose devolution, and as with Wales and Scotland it will be sad, but so be it.

In terms of the Masters, English first for me! But after that the Scots, Northern Irish and Welsh have my full backing... so come on Rory!!

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itchycoo84 5 years ago

"And if an American says he's Irish just accept that the man is delusional/retarded, and is undermining what non-Irish people like me see as being 'Irish'!" so Gary, I'm a born and raised New Yorker and I say I'm Irish, my father was born in Fermanagh and my mother in Galway, and through them I got an Irish passport which I received automatically as the laws of the Ireland consider me an Irish citizen from birth. On second thought you may be right, after all I did marry an English girl, who I love dearly. At least I get to do to her a couple of times a week what England did to Ireland for nearly a thousand years.

Springbokke 5 years ago

We're from South Africa and while on a driving holiday through Ireland (ROI) last year, my Italian wife pointed out that she had not seen a single Union Jack or English flag anywhere, not even outside hotels!

However, when we were in London we were struck by the amount of adverts on British TV by the Irish targeting the English to get them to go and spend their money there.

If they hate them so much why not target other nationalities - I don't think I've ever seen an advert in South Africa for holidays in ROI.

It does seem rather odd that you can drive through Israel and see the German flag hanging outside hotels etc - anyone in their right mind would say what the Germans did to the Jews is a hundred times worse than what happened to the Irish.

So far at least I haven't read of any British extermination camps in Ireland.

Time to move on.

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itchycoo84 5 years ago

well Springbokke, one thing I can say for sure is you get around. I'm not surprised that a South African would espouse the attitude you suggest. I would be surprised if you knew anything about the subject at hand, such as the penal laws, Cromwell's Hell or Connaught campaign, exporting foodstuffs while one-third of the population starves and another one-third is forced to emigrate, etc. Few if anyone attributes the sins of the past to the English of today, and I know no Irish people who, without exception hate the English, but to adopt an attitude of willful ignorance concerning the historical record in order to spare people’s feelings because its "time to move on" isn't a persuasive argument.

Springbokke 5 years ago

itchycoo84 - by bringing South Africa's history into your comments you have neatly made my argument for me. Thanks. South Africa's black people have willingly signed up to the 'peace and reconciliation' process that Bishop Desmond Tutu helped preside over.

I'm sure they have just as much reason to feel bitter and twisted about how they were oppressed over the last few hundred years as the Irish have, if not more!

But as I say they have moved on, as have the Jews in Israel.

How long do you wish to maintain this bitterness for?

Perhaps the English should start removing all the French flags from their entire country due to the raping and pillaging William the Conqueror committed in 1066?

brendan 5 years ago

Anyone born on the island of Ireland is Irish,simple as that, if mc ilroy decides to play for britain,which is made up of england,scotland and wales then he's an idiot.

the uk is described as briain AND northern Ireland.

By the way Ulster has 9 counties, 6 of which are still occupied by the brits,the real north of Ireland is malin head in Co Donegal.

The tricolor represents both prods and catholics,green (white to symbolise peace) and orange

On another subject raised here speaking personally i don't blame the british people for any of the attrocities committed in Ireland by the british state,

i have always found british people to be decent and fair people who i have great repect for,

the british queen is visitng Ireland soon,it's a sign how much relations between britain and ireland have moved on,and i welcome it from that point of view however I believe she should appologise on behalf of the british state for britains bloody and devisive role in Ireland,but maybe the fact she is visiting the garden of remembrance,which commemorates IRA volunteers who fought to remove the brits from Ireland is symbolic in itself,also Croke park,the scene of the first bloody sunday were the british army opened fire on a crowd of spectators at a GAA match and murdered 14 innocent people,

well having got all that of my chest i believe any sportsman and everybody from Ireland,north,south,east or west should hold up the tricolour with pride as it represents us all,protestant,catholic or whatever religion or none,its time we all moved on and re-unite our country, partition was a very bad idea in my opinion,

Hopefully ther will be a referendum on the issue by 2016

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Some really interesting debate going on.

"most educated young people really couldn't give a damn about this sh1te nowadays" dcsouthside - On the contrary, I think it is mainly educated people who like to discuss this subject reasonably. The uneducated are unaware of the history and are less likely to question the media's agenda that everything is like a big blossoming bed of roses.

Springbokke - I can't imagine for a second that there is no resentment towards white South Africans in your country. Only a white South African could be naïve enough to say something like that. The black people in SA are currently in a moment of utopia and the country in a period of relief but history suggests it won't last. The plight of the black people in SA is very similar to the Irish situation, both have been deemed by force as second class citizens in their own country. I don't know if the resentment caused by such atrocities ever truly goes away, especially when it's inbuilt in kids through education. The first thing I learned in school was how the English f**ked us over for hundreds of years. As the education system in the black communities in SA improves, which I expect it is currently doing, then I think tensions will rise again.

Domby 5 years ago

The most important thing is that people should enjoy absolute freedom to declare their own individual identities. It's the ultimate conceit for someone from Dublin, Cork or Limerick to dictate to Rory McIlroy that he must play golf under the tricolour (or represent the Republic at the Olympics). The reality being that McIlroy has lived in Hollywood, Co. Down for most of his life ; he is much better placed than many of the ignorant people on this thread to know his own individual identity. Yes, he may have been reared as a Catholic. But there is nothing to preclude Catholics from embracing the Ulster flag. That is the expression of their freedom to exercise their identities in the manner they themselves deem fit.

Like many Dubliners, I'm bored out my mind by people who still recite the old mantra about "800 years of English oppression". Time to move on. If the Ireland and England encounter at Croke Park four years ago proved anything, it was that many of the old bitternesses have dissipated in recent times. And, yes, there were protesters outside Croke Park four years ago. But they may as well have been pissing against the wind, their protests were so ineffective and poorly supported.

For me, the most important thing is that - if McIlroy succeeds tonight - the island of Ireland will have captured five majors in the space of three years. Proof, if it were needed, that - in sporting terms - this little island of diverse beliefs punches way beyond its weight.

brendan 5 years ago

Laughing my ass of at mcilroy falling apart in Augusta,serves him right,thats karma for him and his norn iron sectarian flag,he can go home and wipe his tears away with it

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Damnargles 5 years ago

I am neither a Republican or a Nationalist. I am simply a person who loves being Irish and unequivocally loves our island of Ireland. I like our inhabitants whether they be republican, loyalist, catholic or protestant. I do not condone the recent or past bombings that were instigated by both parties as I do not distinguish between the hurt caused to Catholics or hurt caused to Protestants as we are all human beings and we all hurt. BUT, what I struggle with is an all Ireland game, I love rugby and follow ALL the Irish rugby teams and for me Ulster fall into that bracket. I am a proud Irishman, free from conceptualistaion and prejudice but all I want from our rugby team is a sense of identity, not this sense of ambiguity that stops Amhran na bhFiann being played on foreign soil and the embarrassment of a song called Ireland's call. Surely to God if we were forgiving enough to allow God save the Queen to be played at the very home of Irish symbolism then we should be able to have one team who are inherently Irish, and not have a question mark hanging over the heads of those who were born in the North. But I ask the question, who does this duty fall upon? Should players like Stephen Ferris and co openly display their loyalty towards Ireland? Or should the IRFU have a responsibility to create a united team both in spirit and values? I would like to think that if players play under an Ireland brand then they see themselves as Irish (and subsequently not loyal to an invisible, and financially draining monarch). I don't like English people playing for the Republic, it's not because I don't like English people because I do like them as I went to work in England, but because we should be autonomous and not the sloppy seconds for players who were not good enough to play for the three lions. Furthermore why would Irish nationalists from the North want to play for Northern Ireland when they'd be playing in a stadium full of British flags and loyalist undertones? I just believe that being Irish means that you are solely dedicated to the country of Ireland whether you're from the North or South and not being subservient to another country, and if you are indeed loyal to another country then you should play for that country and not dampen the spirit of Ireland. A bit romantic maybe but everybody has to have morals and beliefs.

Domby 5 years ago

Why would Irish nationalists from the North want to play for Northern Ireland when they'd be playing in a stadium full of British flags and loyalist undertones?" Why not? Gerry Armstrong (goalscorer for Northern Ireland in the World Cup game against Spain) is Catholic. But that did not deter him from playing for Northern Ireland in amongst all the unionist paraphernalia of Windsor Park. He knew that he would not make it onto the Republic's team ; so he pragmatically chose to play for Northern Ireland. Makes sense to me.

As regards McIllroy, he may be a Catholic. But he grew up in Hollywood (a mainly Protestant area), many of his friends from Sullivan Upper were from both denominations, he loved rugby as opposed to Gaelic, and his girlfriend of a few years was Protestant. So is it really so unusual that he mainly associates himself with Northern Ireland?

I think the mistake made by Damnargles is to assume that every Catholic in the North is a Nationalist. That is not the case. Rory McIlroy is quite happy to count himself as a Northerner from Hollywood, and good luck to him.

As regards Brendan "bursting his hole" laughing at McIlroy's defeat and his references to karma, if that's what turns you on Brendan, that's your prerogative.

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Damnargles 5 years ago

Domby I don't think that nationalists are synonymous with Catholicism. I have friends from Belfast and they are Protestants but would see themselves as Irish nationalists. Creed had nothing to do with my argument. My argument or debate is that when Munster, Leinster or Connacht win in rugby I feel great and proud as I know they are an Irish club with strong Irish roots and symbolism, but when Ulster win although I am happy I can't help but feel a sense of confusion as I don't know if they share the same mentality as the other three Irish provinces. If residents of Northern Ireland see Northern Ireland as a separate entity within the island of Ireland then surely to God they should be entitled to have their own team. Don't get me wrong I have absolutely nothing against the Ulster contingent of the Ireland team and I am a huge fan of Best, Trimble, Wallace, Ferris and David Humphreys, maybe they do see themselves as Irish. All I'm saying is as long as they aren't loyalists because if that is the case and they see the Queen as their sovereign leader I believe that would diminish the purity of Ireland. I couldn't care less what Religion they hold dear. As for Rory McIlroy I believe that he is entitled to choose who he plays for, it doesn't mean I'm not disappointed but I just wish it was the case across all sports. I don't like to see anybody do badly and I really don't like making an issue out of this. Damn the English for making this Island a schizophrenic confused mess.

Domby 5 years ago

Yes,Damnargles,it isn't always possible to differentiate nationality on the basis of religion. Indeed, I've a friend (who was born a Protestant in Belfast) who insisted on having the tricolour painted on his face at a recent international we attended. He also supports Ulster Rugby and some of his friends from the province were giving him strange looks when they spotted the tricolour.

As regards the Ulstermen on the Irish rugby team, I regard them as Irish when they play for Ireland. Indeed, there was a time, in the 1970s, when almost half of the Irish rugby team came from Ulster. And there were successive decades when Mike Gibson and Willie John McBride were the central pillars of the Irish team. Nowadays, the Ulster contingent are not as pivotal to the Irish rugby team as before. But I regard them as "playing for Ireland" whenever they tog out in the green jerseys. And my friend (of the face paint fame) is always especially thrilled whenever we beat the "Auld Enemy". So it's impossible to try to attach a label to Ulster men on the Irish team. It should suffice that they're playing in a green shirt with a shamrock on it.

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Damnargles 5 years ago

Domby there is nothing I can say to that because you've quite frankly said everything that needs to be said and you're correct, and I respect your post. I just wanted to make sure that you understood that I did not correlate creed with a sense of nationality. p.s it looks like Ulster players may in the coming years become the pivotal of Irish rugby if the under 20's is anything to go by :)

Craig 5 years ago

This is an addictive, if at times bewildering chain of posts. I guess this is a subject close to my heart, being a product of a father from a southern catholic background and a mother from a presbyterian background, both originating on this island for as far back as our family records indicate. As anyone reading this probably knows, tradition dictates that a child takes it's mothers religion, which makes me a presbyterian. But the whole religious association has baffled me, if I am a catholic I must be a republician/irish or conversely I am a protestant therefore I am unionist/british. How can this be, I am born on the island of ireland, i am irish. Of course, history has dictated that there are a body of people on this island who have an allegiance to a state/nation/country which is historically not part of this island, a body of people which I belong too. Some posters would contradict this statement as my family history derives from two very different backgrounds, but i cannot, in my view, deny my roots. Sport is obviously an emotive subject, but part of me always believes are sports heros are choosing the path that leads them to greater riches. Are Gmac or Rory making a political statement? Personally I don't think so, as i am sure their "agents" will counsel them wisely on the folly of alienating any following. For what its worth, I don't understand the concept of this archaic allegiance to the "crown" from people born on this island. I understand that part of my ancestors have been "planted" here but equally I would like to believe my ancestors may have derived from Lord Edward FitzGerald. In saying this, I have no bitterness towards the united kingdom/britain/england or however this is verbalised. But equally part of me cannot help but feel that the concept of being northern irish could be western irish or from the pale if the format of the plantations was identical throughout the island (i do not make this statement lightly, but it is a topic i have researched). The point I am clumsily making is i am proud to call myself irish, not now or ever british, is Éireannach mé . I believe a day will come when the people of this island can be considered as one body of people, just irish, notwithstanding historical backgrounds. We cannot change history, but the symbol of PSNI Officiers and GAA members carrying Ronan Kerr's coffin I hope symbolises the future of this island.

brendan 5 years ago

Good post Craig,it backs up my point,we are all Irish on this island and have more in common with each other than our neighbours and friends in Britain,I think sectarianism is poison,I have neighbours who are protestant,presbytarian etc and they are all as Irish as me,though we have been spared the war in the six counties for the last 40 years or so,I suppose we are that much further ahead than the people in the six counties in that regard.

I think Rory mc Ilroy made a mistake by alienating irish nationalists,the tricolur represents both traditions on this island and symbolises peace between orange and green.

We should have one soccer team as well,same as cricket and rugby,though I think the problem there is to many of the suits in the repective FA's would lose their jobs.

Sam Davies 5 years ago

Rory is British. Plain and simple. As Alan said above he comes from Holywood and has in interviews referred to himself as such. What would really annoy me if he became a 'Plastic Paddy' because of the lucrative deals he could get in America. I think he is going that way. Rory should just come out and admit it and save us all from discussions like this.

Gabby 5 years ago

Stevie Hall, can you explain why Tony Blair delayed becoming a roman catholic until after he had resigned as British Prime Minister?

Or why some Canadian of Irish catholic heritage had to convert to the Church of England when marrying the Queen's Grandson - because otherwise her new husband would have had to renounce his (11th in line) claim to the throne? I believe only roman catholics have to do this - the royals are free to marry moslems, hindus or jews without renouncing their claim to the throne.

It seems the sectarian British state is still a cold house for roman catholics. Maybe Rory is doing his best to distance himself from his Irish catholic background for that reason.

Great news the Queen is coming to visit Ireland. Timing is bad and insensitive considering its the anniversary of the Dublin & Monaghan bombings which her majesty's forces had a hand in and have refused to cooperate with the investigation into them.

brendan 5 years ago

Good point Gabby,whoever decided the queen should visit on that date hadn't much sense.

the british royalty is sectarian and is an outdated institution,the british aren't even citizens,they are called 'subjects'

Rory mc Ilroy is Irish,I don't care what religion he was born into or none,being born in Ireland means your Irish, if he was born on the island of britain he'd be british,now that is very clear to anyone you isn't biased by sectarian and anti Irish views.

watching him play now is like watching englands soccer team, i want them to get beat.

26+6=1 roll on the referendum and get british poison out of Ireland for good

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Melbournian 5 years ago


This is a fascinating, almost addictive debate, but ultimately a bit pointless. Surely we all have the complete right to pin our colours to whatever mast we feel best represents us. Why are we all wasting our time worrying about this? I have a very good friend who is Belgian but considers himself Dutch, another Belgian friend who considers himself French and countless American aquaintences who call themselves Irish even though they could barely find it on a map. I myself am proudly Irish, British and Northern Irish and very comfortable with that. If Rory is first and foremost Northern Irish then good luck to him. Just let me have is golf swing for one round and I'll die happy.

Jules 5 years ago

Premierkj; As a young, educated female from the North, who has lived in Dublin for the last 6years I find it highly offensive that I am being described as 'diluted' Irish. I think you have had a lack of exposure to People from the North. Those who have said that young people don't care any more are correct to the extent that it is no longer an issue that the majority of people are willing to fight for, life is relatively good as is! However, everyone is entitled to have a national identity and people from the north who so choose to be Irish do not deserve to be criticised or thought to be any less Irish than yourself! Rory should do what he likes, it is his decision and he should not be judged on the basis of it!

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beisbol23 5 years ago

I stumbled upon this page because I was interested in Rory McElroy's background. The first question that came to my mind following his US Open start was whether he was Catholic or Protestant. This may sound like madness to the rest of you, but I am a second generation Irish-American (3 grandparents from Galway, one French/Scottish/American Indian) who lives in New Mexico, and I still actually think about this stuff. Regardless of his declaration as to what "country" he identifies with, I fully support him.

I've only been to Ireland twice in my life (on a bicycle for a total of 9 weeks) yet even with my limited knowledge of current Irish politics I hope for some recognition of his Catholic heritage and its connection to the Republic.

To further clarify my position, I couldn't give a "rat's ass" about golf, but this situation has me interested. Que viva el beisbol!

Brendan 5 years ago

Rory wouldn't be so brave to wave the ulster flag a few years back, a catholic supporting unionism , wouldn't go down well im a very proud Irishman who loves sport and loves to see Irish sports people doing well but after reading all of these posts I will no longer support Rory , don't come running back to us Rory when things go wrong , we don't want you

Brendan 5 years ago

Rory wouldn't be so brave to wave the ulster flag a few years back, a catholic supporting unionism , wouldn't go down well im a very proud Irishman who loves sport and loves to see Irish sports people doing well but after reading all of these posts I will no longer support Rory , don't come running back to us Rory when things go wrong , we don't want you

Seán Tornóir 5 years ago

As an Irishman born and raised in Belfast, Ireland's 2nd largest city I find the initial article quite interesting. However, I personally find Premierkj's comments extremely insulting when questioning my nationality. I am a teacher and speaker of our , under the constitution, national language, Gaeilge. I hold an Irish passport and would NEVER consider having or applying for any other, be it French, German or even, dare I suggest, English/British/Northern Irish (whatever their passport is). You must not know very many Nationalist/Irish people from the "North", have read up much on our history/politics or have little respect for our forefathers because some of your terminology is absolutely blasphemous when taken into consideration. To take a direct quote from one of your comments, "So when a guy from the North calls himself Irish, it feels to us like a diluted version of Irish, just the same as when Americans call themselves Irish when they’ve never set foot on Irish soil." Irish soil extends from Kerry to Derry and Howth to Inis Mór, it does not just stop and turn red, white and blue at Newry or Strabane. We have a pretty unique and complicated history and it can be very frustrating reading such uneducated comments. Irish men, women and children such as Paddy Barnes, Wayne McCullough, Aileen Morrison, as well as tonnes of their peers, from Belfast, Derry, Armagh etc.. have won European, world and Olympic medals under the tri-colour and would not call themselves anything but Irish. These men, women and children are not determined by some penpusher in London or Dublin, a line on a map or a few silly comments on a website but what is in their hearts and minds. Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel (the famous writers), yes, both born in "Northern Ireland, the North, whatever you want to call it", ask all these people where they are from or their nationality, you will get a one word answer "IRISH". It is what they believe and what thousands of people throughout our history died for. If you call yourself a Republican, a true Republican, then you too Premierkj would know that those heroes did not die for a 26 county state. GAA is not stopped at Newry or Strabane and replaced by cricket, it is an Irish sport played by Irish people. So, get down off your high horse and stop giving people lectures on what their nationality is (Irish, British or Northern Irish) because your generalisations just appear uneducated and completely disrespectful. Is mise le meas, Seán Tornóir.

Brendan 5 years ago

Everybody wants to be Irish over half the Americian population claims they come Irish decent, the most powerful man In the worlds Obamba is proud of his Irish Roots he just visited Ireland recently and met some of his irish relitaves , Rory is Irish whether he liked it or not he was born on this island, not In the UK

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

"I personally find Premierkj's comments extremely insulting when questioning my nationality. I am a teacher and speaker of our , under the constitution, national language, Gaeilge. I hold an Irish passport and would NEVER consider having or applying for any other" - Sean T.

Hey Sean, I'd like to direct you to a post I made 3 months ago on this page, in which I stated "I have become convinced that those born in the North, who are loyal to the Republic are 100% Irish."

I recognise that this quote will contradict some of my earlier posts but it shows I am willing to listen to others, as I have in this discussion and I am prepared to change my views when I feel obliged. My opinions have evolved quite a bit since I first started having this discussion.

Even though my views from a while ago may have insulted you, I hope to give you my perspective and why I came to the conclusion that you quoted me on. I was trying to express that people born in the Republic of Ireland have had different experiences in life than those born in Northern Ireland (even Nationalists). Where there are different experiences there are distinctions in our culture, education and behaviour. I still believe there are those differences but I was wrong to label you as 'diluted Irish' when really, through the experience of being a minority, you have in fact retained more passion for Ireland than most of the unchallenged people in the south.

I hope this is also an answer to Jules' post.

This is not something that judges Rory McIlroy for any decision he makes. This article began as the simple thinking of a sports' fan who perhaps absurdly supports those who represent the tricolour and likes clarity of allegiance. As RTE Television reports golf, it invariably focuses in Rory McIlroy who has said he will play for Great Britain in the Olympics, rather than focus on guys who play for Ireland. RTE claims this kid as Irish when his allegiance is to the Queen. (And again, I respect his decision).

Thanks for your comments.

John 5 years ago

Back to the Green, White and 'Gold' issue i'm afraid. Sorry you see it as 'factual nit picking' but facts are important things i think. And the fact here is that the Irish flag is green white and orange, not gold. Gold may have gained some currency because of its use in republican poetry and song but the inescapable fact is that the whole reason for the flag is its colours of green white and orange. Symbolising, as it does, the green and orange traditions at either extreme and white representing peace between the two.

BG 5 years ago

Rooting for Rory, even thought I am not much of a golf fan. Don’t understand it well and have never played it. Camogie my youth game!

Go Rory. Go to win. Will be great for this island of Ireland.

BigC. 5 years ago

premierkj, Rory is a golfer full stop, if u wanna chat polotics piss off and open another thread.

fudgeknuckle 5 years ago

was ireland not gifted to england by a pope in echange for converting it to catholocism,was cromwell not a republican fighting monarchy supported by irish,is catholocism not a dictatorship led by a pope,irish are crazy,mixed up kids!

sgs 5 years ago

great sportsman, i hope he will be around for many year and give us all somebody to cheer on!!

brendan 5 years ago

Great comment by Sean Tornoir, I couldn't have said it better,To reitereate my earlier comments from afew months back,anyone born on the island of Ireland is Irish,if rory mcilroy wants 2 call himself british and satnd under a sectarian flag then i dont care how good a golfer he is i have zero respect for him.

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Big C - I think that has to be the dumbest comment I've ever read. Firstly, if you want (or wanna to use your language) to talk 'Polotics' you'll have to do it on your own, because I don't know what that is. I do enjoy the occasional discussion about politics though. Secondly, I found it hilarious that you put a comma after you said 'full-stop' - I'll be telling that one to my friends.

I approve every message on this (my) thread because everyone deserves a voice, but your voice on this thread has from now, been revoked.

Cbro 5 years ago

It's funny to see how this discussion has progressed and how people get easily confused with religion and political affiliation. The simple fact of the matter is the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are separate countries and should be viewed as such. Any other aspirations for a united Ireland or otherwise are romanticised ideas that should have died out by now, after such recent history of disgusting violence in the name of religion and identity. The problem with SPORT, which this topic was meant to be on, is that people from nationalist communites in the north identify more with the Republic, which i can see is a normal thing and if they wish to hold a tricolour aloft great. If they do no because their identity lies elsewhere who are we to debate over where they should place their own loyalty identity?

We are separate countries but have certain members or our communities with shared identities and they should be respected for whatever one they deem themselves to belong to. Past grievances from decades ago should have no part to play, especially in sport. Rory Mcilroy or Graeme McDowell may consider themselves to be Irish because they are from the island of Ireland (which is a new identity growing in the North to move away from the black and white of the us and them dilemma) but it does not exclusively mean that they have the same identity as an irish "nationalist". In short all members of communities should be respected, and if we can achieve this over the coming decades then who knows what the future holds in terms of our shared island. One thing for sure is we cannot dwell on past centuries any longer to determine who is right and wrong and to associate to readily with that identity, for these are the very things that have held our communities back for so long. Fair play Rory for knowing who you are, and fair play to all members of our respective communities for knowing who they are, but do not forget we also have a shared identity. This is not black and white anymore and we are all the better for it now. Let's hope in the decades to come it continues this way and there won't be any violence in the name of some historically confused notion of identity clashes.

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kittyryan 5 years ago

I too stumbled on this site looking for some background on Rory after watching an enthralling US Open victory. This has been the most fascinating, thought-provoking enlightening, hilarious half-hour I have had in a long time! This thread as you call it should be used to stitch it all into a book. I am now almost 70 years, born in Belfast married a Munster man nearly 50 years ago and raised a multi-national family for 23 years in Tipperary. The way this debate has descended into an almost 'free-for all' has been hilarious! And yes, I can see all the points of view. I was never really accepted as being "Irish" always Northern even though I pointed out that we had a hard time being Irish in NI. It made no difference. Even though I was fully accepted - just different. Here in Australia where I have been with our 7 well-educated children for 20 years - (emigrating during the last bust and before the Celtic Tiger)I can only say come over here and from a distance you can see just how foolish this awful animosity really is. We now have added new nationalities and religions to our brood and couldn't be happier at the broadminded acceptance we as parents have developed. I loved dublinsouth's comments and laughed so much at the "jaysus" - I uttered this very "Irish" of expletives yesterday after a golfer in my group nearly drove his ball through my golf cart and me with it! Our nationalities are as a matter of interest are Irish, US, British, New Zealand, Australian (that's just the kids) we have added Polish and Sri Lankan (just for colour and spice) - but we are all Australians now. Just reading the comments you can see the tippy-toeing in the maze of politics that Graeme and Rory have to negotiate to please everyone. Rory & Graeme epitomise the Peace Accord and at last a new leaf has been turned and a new more educated and tolerant history begun. Long may it last. Rory is fabulous.

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nada_ward 5 years ago

As a part-English Irishman born in Japan, with a catholic unionist grandmother, a royalist catholic aunt and Irish republican father, I think this is all interesting.

Just be careful of judging what holding a flag means. Things change. What might once have been offensive might now be celebratory. I'm happy for any of the sportspeople named to hold any of the flags named because the act can change the value of holding that flag. It can liberate us all from automatic and forced perceptions, and the fudnamentalist assumptions of some of these posts.

I'd like to see a day when the harm is taken out of holding these flags. On an emotional level - sport is often about emotions - I may identify with Rory as 'one of us' (Irish catholics), but I'm happy for him to grab the NI flag because it moves us all on if we can get our head around the act. If you see harm in that flag, the fact of Rory holding it can change that positively rather than simply representing some selling out.

I'm also a Barcelona supporter, and there are many similarities in the question of (militant) Catalans playing for Spain.

rubadub 5 years ago

Born in Dublin I identify as only Irish and therefore only identify, in a sense of shared nationality, with people who see themselves the same way. I view people from the 26 counties and nationalists from the 6 counties as compatriots , I think people who view their identity and nationality as I do want the likes of Mcilroy Mcdowell and Clarke to have the same identity as us but the reality is they don’t. They may see themselves as Irish but it isn’t the same identity that Southern and Northern nationalists have because we have no ambiguity in our nationality. Irish not British.

When the queen was visiting Ireland the BBC interviewed Church of Ireland Prods in Dun Laoghaire about their feeling towards Britain and the Queen as they would be from a religion and area that would be perceived as more traditionally unionist and pro british. They all stated that they felt only Irish and had no feeling of loyalty to Britain and the queen. I think the same thing is happening in Northern Ireland with many Catholics like Mcilroy. They may be perceived to be Irish nationalists because of their religion but they are becoming more Northern Irish and British in their allegiance. The very low support for a united Ireland among Catholics in a recent opinion poll would seem to bear this out. This is not what I would like but it seems to be the case that the strictly Irish identity in Northern Ireland is waning and a more “Northern Irish” (unionist light) identity is emerging, an identity that while less alienating than the old style unionist hostility to Irishness is one I feel I have little in common with.

Its human nature to feel an identity and a shared sense of nationality but unfortunately the situation on this island is messy. I dislike having my Irishness diluted in sports like rugby and cricket and others, where we have to have meaningless flags and anthems (Im sure the British in Northern Ireland don’t like Amhrán na bhFiann at Lansdowne Road) Rory, like Darren Clarke and Mcdowell are very likeable lads and I wish them ever success, however they are not compatriots and I wouldn’t support them the way I would Harrington and Mcginley.

Barry 5 years ago

There are some very interesting comments here, sadly a lot of them are predictable. Firstly, it's unfair for anyone to label Rory McIlroy. Only he knows his allegiances and even if, ultimately, some of us don't like them then they should be respected. Also, people here think identity is based on allegiance. Nonsense. In my view it is perfectly normal to be both Irish & British and these positions are not mutually exclusive. It is only the narrow minded 'them and us' type people who want to be pidgeon holed. I am from a unionist background but have no problem considering myself Irish, indeed how can I not be when I was born on the island of Ireland? Yes, we have two countries but remember it wasn't always so and certain sports like rugby, golf, hockey and boxing obviously had the foresight and bravery back in 1922 to separate sport & politics and remain as one entity. Personally I believe this was absolutely the right thing to do as it brings together people of supposedly different traditions. What harm is there in that? As for flags and anthems, these will always be sensitive buy with maturity solutions can always be found. If people think these solutions are 'mickey mouse' then it says more about them than anything else. I love Irish rugby and watching the team, especially away matches when there's loads of banter with the guys from the other provinces. Does this allegiance make me anti or un British? Certainly not. People need to get over themselves and move on.

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podge91 5 years ago

Its pretty clear to me, whatever flags sports broadcasters put on their screens, than rory and greame are Irish. G-mac on jay leno refered to being irish and drinking guinness etc and in rorys us open acceptance speech he talked about how many "pints of guinness will be poured back home!"

brendan 5 years ago

Podge 91 do u think drinking guinness or referring to guiness makes it clear they percieve themselves as Irish,cop yourself was the british who swamped this country with alchohol licences to keep the population mired in alchohol,and their popular drunken paddy image. they tried to wipe the irish of the face of the earth for gods sake,what is wrong with you people,grow a backbone and stand up for your country.

mcilroy is nothing but a tit in my opinion,he's an irish catholic and he refers to the six occupied counties as 'norn iron' a country? stupid bolox i dont care how gud a golfer he is,everyone born on this island is Irish as well as the wider irish diaspora around the world

Barry 5 years ago

Rubadub, I think it's a little sad that you feel you can only consider as a true compatriot someone from the 26 counties and nationalists from the 6 counties. To me that means that you have a monocultural version of Irishness which is purely nationalist and (mostly) Catholic. If I were to be a moderate unionist who could be persuaded into a united Ireland in future what does that say to me? It says you're not wanted, you're not 'pure' enough. Well thankfully you don't get to decide what is Irish enough because your government does. And it affords me the respect and as much right to this as you. You mention the Dun Laoghaire prods only feeling Irish, therefore passing your test, but what about asking their grandparents who were probably around during the War of Independance? They probably felt a degree of Britishness but clearly this took time and a couple of generations to change. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm glad you weren't on the same Irish rugby team as me with your thoughts. If you were my inside centre you'd be missing me out with a pass straight to the wing! How laughable would that be!!!

The only conclusion I can come to is that you have a view of exclusion, purely based on whether you felt it right that NI remained in the UK or not, and quite frankly the ROI aint exactly covering itself in glory right now in that regard. That said I will always be extremely proud to be Irish no matter what happens on our island or what narrow minded views people have as is their right in a democracy.

Liam 5 years ago

Hi I’m a 30 year old Galwayman (county first lol) and I’m absolutely loving this thread. In my younger years I considered myself to be a republican – voted sinn fein as soon as I was old enough and hated the English. A product of the truly one sided version of Irish history that is taught in our schools. Then I started to read more impartial history books written by both Southern and Northern Irish authors and I came to realize that the history of this island is far more complicated then the constant theme of “native” Irish fighting against the invading “foreigner” that seems to make up the majority of what passes for History in our education system and national media. Far more Irish fought for the crown then against – let us not forget that Cromwell and William of Orange were fighting Irish armies loyal to an English King. While studying engineering at Queens University Belfast I witnessed the divide between my Catholic and Protestant classmates and there most definitely is a cultural divide not just a religious one but I also saw how much we have in common. I was asked only last week by an English friend of mine would I like to see Northern Ireland joint with the South. I replied that I would love to see a united Ireland but not under one flag or one banner but united as one People as Irish People – British Irish or just Irish. For Unionists and Republicans alike to realize that through our language, history, sense of humor, accents, passion for sports and pride in our own distinct cultures, there is much more uniting us then dividing us. So I say let Rory the Northern Irishman stand under whatever flag he wishes – I for one am proud of him and his achievements.

John boy 5 years ago

did anyone notice that when rory was walking to receive the us open tropy, someone threw a tricolour at him? he couldn't get it off him quick enough....good lad!

Alistair 5 years ago

Rory McIlroy, like myself, is from Northern Ireland, a political entity made up of 6 counties of Ireland in the North of the Island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is politically joined with Britain and a few small islands to form the United Kingdom. The majority of people in Northern Ireland are happy with this political state. A sizeable minority of people in Northern Ireland would like to break the link with the UK and form a united Ireland.

These are, I think, pretty clear cut facts. Sorry if I sound like I am preaching here but having travelled a fair bit I am well aware of how many people around the globe just simply arent aware of this stuff.

A persons identity within Northern Ireland gets a little more complicated. Many people call themselves Northern Irish, Irish or British when asked what nationality they are. For many people they are comfortable with 2 or all 3. It is, I think, fair to say that most people who want to see a United Ireland will want say "Irish", with lower numbers saying "Northern Irish" and very few saying "British". Amongst those wanting to remain part of the UK the "British" and "Northern Irish" elements will be the highest and a lower but still significant number will still be happy to be also called "Irish".

I am happy with all 3. I have a feeling he is perfectly happy being called Irish and Northern Irish. No idea about the British part but if he is keener to represent the UK than the Republic of Ireland in the Olympics I think it is fair to say he has no problem with the British aspect of it either.

rubadub 5 years ago

Hi Barry.

Cultural identity is highly subjective. If a British Pakistani living in England felt cultural affiliation to Pakistan would you then expect another Englishman to feel the same affinity to Pakistan as part of their shared English cultural identity. They share a nationality but not the same cultural identity.

Being born in Ireland I am not British in any way in terms of nationality or identity. That northern unionist are is a fact that alienates them from my feeling of what my nationality is. This is just reality. I’m all for reconciliation and mutual respect but I, and I imagine most people in the Republic and northern nationalist, do not feel a shared common identity with those on this island whose identity is British. Im not saying there should be hostility or violence. I’m not criticising anyone on this Island for how they see their own nationality or identity . They are perfectly entitled to feel British, Irish or both. However we cannot pretend that these identities are politically compatible because they are so obviously not. People whose identity is Irish and not British living in the north have to accept British rule. However from what I can see more and more people who previously would have seen themselves or perhaps been seen as nationalists (ie Catholics) are assuming an identity of “Northern irish” which accepts the status quo of British rule albeit devolved. Exactly as those in the South whose parents or grandparent may have been loyally British prior to independence have, due to living in an Irish state, come to identify only with this state and a solely Irish identity.

Barry 5 years ago

Rubadub, like Premierkj, I think you display a lack of understanding about Northern Ireland. Some Southern nationalists continually refer to the minority having to 'put up ' with British rule. You make it sound like there are enemies of Nationalism on every street corner waiting to subjugate them to beatings, discrimination etc.. etc.. Those days are long gone and in fact Northern Ireland, by dint of it's sizeable nationalist minority is probably fairer and more accountable now than the Republic. I do believe because of our most recent problems we are creating a fairer more tolerant society where difference is valued, respected and indeed considered a strength. Sadly you see this as a negative. Being from the Republic also makes you struggle to understand why feeling Irish and British are not mutually exclusive. You say that these political identities are incompatible. Why? You didn't give a reason. Just because you don't like it? That's like saying Scottish and British is incompatible when clearly that's not the case.

I think that Liam's posting is much more like it - I agree with him, we have far more in common than divides us. If you get to the nitty gritty what really divides us? A flag, a song or anthem? You are one type of Christian (if at all and increasingly less so) and we are another? In the grand scale of things this is nothing. Most of my unionist friends love a good 'ol session of fiddly dee and appreciate this is part of their 'extended' culture. Our food tastes, sports passions, love of family values bind us more together than apart.

Please also don't confuse Northern Irish identity to some form of quasi English identity. I don't feel remotely English, dislike their arrogance in sport and other areas of life too and always vigourously support our teams against them with the most passion.

Going back to the golfing thread I don't necessarily think that it's true to say that ALL southerners will suddenly stop supporting Rory McIlroy if he declares for GB & NI. Personally I would prefer it if he represented Ireland but you have to accept that in the Olympics it's a UK team and he is from Northern Ireland. Surely anyone can see that this makes the decision harder and I'm sure Rory anguished over this considering his Golfing Union of Ireland background. Rory has contributed hugely to Irish golf in the past and will continue to do so in future. He has admitted to being proud to be Irish, even if you don't like his decision then just respect it. Regarding the Ulster flag, I think this is an unfortunate flag and really an alternative should be found/created that better represents everyone in NI.

Here's a question - How far would people in the Republic really be prepared to go to reunite the country? Would they accept that the Tricolour may have to change? Could we ultimately create something to which we can all share allegiance? Then, and only then will debates like this become redundant.

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looseygoosey 5 years ago

the tri-colour would not change , the very meaning of the flag is irish peace with unionists

Tag 5 years ago

No matter what anyone thinks or says if he was born on the island of Ireland he is Irish

Trapdoor 5 years ago

No matter what anyone thinks or says if he is born in N Ireland he's Irish and British,just as someone born in Scotland is Scottish and British.

As far as I am aware and I am not that old the Tricolour was always refered to as being green white and gold until fairly recently, the orange green thing is a nice guesture and maybe in time enough people will actually believe that is what it means!!

J.O'B.,Cork. 5 years ago

Two indiginous peoples account for the vast majority of people on the island of Ireland, namely, the Republican Irish and the Ulster British. We are all Irish.Neither group is more or less Irish than the other.In labelling themselves as " UNIONIST" the Ulster British people sell themselves short.The term "unionist" suggests that there only exists a political difference between the Irish. There is a perception in the Republican Irish mindset that unionism is anti-Irish.They (U.B.'s) share much in common with us but they have more in common with, for instance, protestant Scots than we do. We sometimes see them as being pro-British or as having a strong sense of Britishness. Some people in Australia and New Zealand have a strong sense of Britishness and are pro-British but they are not British. The Ulster British (so called unionists) are British. They are the British presence in Ireland and they constitute at least 40% of the population of each County of Northern Ireland.This makes each of the 6 Co's significantly different from the other 26 on the island. N.I.has until recently been maintained as a British state for a British people and as such, it has had a tragic past and a very precarious future.It's best future as things stand would be joint U.K.of G.B. and R.of I. sovereignty, or, independence. This would result in equality of nationality. The Irish tricolour and the Union Jack would have equal status. The I.F.A. would have to come up with a new anthem or use both and NI.could call itself a country. A team in such circumstances should have the allegiance of all of it's home grown players.

As regards Rory McIlroy, he thrilled me over the last few days. He is a fellow Irishman, a fellow islander and I don't give a hoot whether he is an Ulster British Irishman or a Republican Irishman.

God save Ireland !

P.S. The Ulster-British need to get it into their skulls that they no longer solely own Northern Ireland and that they live on the mainland,i.e. mainland Ireland !

alan 5 years ago

I am from Northern Ireland and i declare myself BRITISH! I totally respect Rory for flying the red hand of Ulster and GMAC was put in an awful place on RTE'S late late show and said these comments so the Catholics down there would slag him off! No doubt he and Rory are British as they were not born in ireland! they are ruled by Her Majesty the Queen and are proud to cover themselves in the great Red hand of Ulster! #GODSAVETHEQUEEN!

belfastcelt 5 years ago

I watched and cheered for young Rory yesterday and was proud of his performance, but it would be foolish and naïve of him to think that just because he waves a "Nortern Ireland" flag, that he will be accepted by NI loyalists or hard line unionists.

Other northern catholics sports stars, such as Pat Jennings, Anton Rogan and most recently Neil Lennon have found that pulling on the green jersey and playing well, does not gaurantee acceptance. All of these players choose NI over the Republic to play soccer and suffered abuse.

In Lennons case, death threats, bullets mailed to him and physical assault.

As a nationalist who grew up in West Belfast during the hunger strike, I seen first hand the bigotry and while things have changed considerably since then, the grass roots bigotry remains towards all "Taigs", wether they win a major golf tournament or not.

That is the unfortunate reality of it all and continues to be the main reason why Northern born Irish Catholics prefer to support and play for the Republic of Ireland over Northern Ireland.

I wish Rory nothing but the best in his career regardless of what flag or country he decides to side with in the future. I only hope he makes the right decision for himself.

Barry 5 years ago

To JO'B in Cork - well said you make a lot of good points and seem to have a better handle on Northern Unionists - interesting coming from the rebel county.

The interesting thing is that it's not always about allegiances and who you feel you have most in common. As a very moderate Unionist and proud Irishman I feel that I have a lot in common with you but nothing in common with the extremist rant that came from a so called Unionist called Alan who clearly has no understanding of Ireland (any part of it!)To be fair I can't see either Rory or GMac having much in common with that either.

Willy rob 5 years ago

Your comparing Rory to Neil lennon ? Come on there's a big difference there!!!

nwr 5 years ago

I don't really care what sports people from Northern Ireland class themselves as. The Good Friday Agreement gives everyone a choice to carry whichever passport they desire.

As a small nation we should be proud of all our sporting achievements and currently in golf we have 2 players in the top 10 in the world rankings and two major champions.

I don't care what flag they align themselves with both Graham and Rory have done Northern Ireland proud.

However something I have picked up on in this post is your lack of knowledge when talking about flags.

The ulster flag is yellow with a red cross and the red hand in the middle (no crown) and relates to the 9 counties of Ulster

The non-government sanctioned flag of Northern Ireland is White with a red cross and the red hand in the middle with the crown above it unnoficially represents the 6 counties of NI.

And finally the Irish republic flag is green white and orange and stands for the following: the green represents the Gaelic tradition of Ireland and the orange represents the followers of William of Orange in Ireland, with white representing peace, or a truce, between them.

nwr 5 years ago

I should mention that I meant 2 major champions in two years. As we can't forget Fred Daly's win at the British open.

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jhdmbla 5 years ago

Like many others, I came across this blog while searching on info about Rory McIlroy's religion. While I don't really care what that is, like many Irish I was using it as a proxy for which "tradition" he was from and was curious. So I discovered he was a Catholic but not a "Nationalist/Republican". In fact, he appeared to be more of a "Unionist/Loyalist", as many understand the term. And then in reading the rest of this blog, the discussion seemed to evolve into more of a discussion, remarkably civil by the standards of the blogosphere (even the fervent but misguided 'brendan"), of what it means to be Irish, Northern Irish, British, UK, European even American, Australian and/or South African.

I'm a proud born and bred Meathman, Leinsterman, Irishman now living on the West Coast of the US, but having lived and worked many years in London as well. I am nominally Catholic (or Roman Catholic, if you prefer) but like many (most?) of my generation religion informs little of my life. To my mind, is Rory Irish? Of course, as much as I am. Is he British? If he wants to be. While technically Northern Ireland is not part of Britain, it is part of the UK and we tend to use the word British to denote citizens, or should I say subjects, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Welsh and Scots, no matter how nationalistic, are indeed Britons whether they like it or not by dint of geography. What he isn't is English. And we tend to conflate the two. It is always a bone of contention with the Celtic cousins to be called English. Many of them may be British but never English.

It's not that the English aren't admirable - the English have contributed to the world some of its greatest literature, music and legal frameworks. It's just that we're not them, nor German nor Chinese. And I would wager that almost every person in Northern Ireland would agree with that sentiment. I remember when Brenda Fricker, the Dublin born actress won the Academy Award for the best Supporting Actress for My Left Foot. She had a great quote about how when you win an Oscar you're British and when you're drunk in the airport, you're Irish. It's like when Eddie Irvine did well in Formula One he was a British driver in the London media but when he crashed he was from Northern Ireland.

But let's get some historical facts straight (we may have differing opinions but let's work off at least the same set of events). The English did not invade Ireland, nor did the British. It was the Normans in 1169 whose then Kingdom ranged from the Island of Britain and almost half of modern day France. And they didn't come to Ireland on a whim. They were invited by the King of Leinster who had been exiled in France after been on the wrong end of a fight with the King of Breifne (essentially, modern Leitrim & Cavan). We all learned about Strongbow in school and how his chain mail armor made the difference. And religion wasn't even an issue then since they were all Catholic/Christian (though the Papacy did want to exert greater control over the Irish Church). It wasn't until Martin Luther and especially Henry VIII over 300 years later that there were any Protestants or Dissenters.

Irishmen and women fought and died in wars over the next 8 or so centuries on both sides of the various power struggles, battles and plantations that defined Norman/Tudor/British/European history. While religion was nominally the cause of many of these wars, in reality it was about power, control and economics (plus ca change!). Yes, the Irish or more exactly the Catholic, Celtic/Norman population ended up on the wrong side of these fights more often then not and suffered as a result. To the victor, the spoils. Ulster, led then by the O'Neill and O'Donnell clans, was always the most rebellious of provinces so eventually suffered the greatest displacement of indigenous population through the Great Plantation in the 1600's. The planters were mostly Scots Presbyterian and some English Anglicans. To put the timing in perspective, this was around the same time as the Virginia Plantation in Jamestown and before the Puritans landed in Plymouth in 1620. So whatever your politics or religion, the Unionist/Loyalist tradition in Ulster dates from the time of the beginning of modern America. Try telling a descendent of someone who came over on the Mayflower that they aren't truly American.

Now fast forward to the early 1900's. Home Rule was coming to Ireland and was delayed as long as possible by the House of Lords. The strongly Unionist population, primarily in the North east of the island of Ireland, threatened civil war if Home Rule happened. WWI intervened and the transfer of Home Rule was suspended. Thousands of Irishmen from all 32 counties fought and died in that war, notably in Gallipoli (Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers got wiped out almost to a man) and the Somme (the 36th Ulster Division suffered 5,500 casualties in the first 2 days alone - the marching season in the North begins on July 1 with a commemoration of the sacrifices of the Somme). The Unionists especially believed that their sacrifice should count for something in the whole Home Rule discussions. And then the Easter Rising 1916 occurred where the tricolor was first flown in a significant manner to represent Irish independence (with the green nationalist, the orange unionist and white peace panels). Partition was the kick the can down the road solution to the threat of a North-South Civil War in Ireland and was not the major cause of the actual Civil War that resulted after the 1918-21 War of Independence (the Oath of Allegiance was a much bigger deal).

So in answer to Barry's question about whether people in the Republic would change/drop the Tricolor (and by extension anthem) if that would facilitate a closer union (no pun intended) between North & South, I would have thought absolutely. After all, it was only invented in the mid-1800's and is clearly associated with the Catholic/Nationalist/Republican tradition on the island, whatever its good intentions. The Gold harp with silver strings on a blue background, the current standard of the president of Ireland, has much more historical resonance. And maybe add the Red Hand of Ulster. Blue, or St. Patrick's blue, has been a national colour of Ireland since Norman times (think Dublin GAA, Leinster rugby etc.). In fact, since its founding in 1880 the Irish soccer team and then the Irish Free State team wore blue until 1931 when it was changed to green, officially to avoid confusion with the Scottish team (they had worn an all white strip when playing Scotland away, up to this). Ironically, the Northern Irish team wore green from its start after Partition.

Though, on the other hand, don't think Mike Gibson and WIllie John McBride weren't proud wearing the green jersey of the all-Ireland rugby team, especially when beating the English, no victory sweeter than in 1973. But give major kudos to the English for even turning up that year at all after the Scots and Welsh refused to come to Ireland the previous year due to the Troubles, robbing Ireland of a probable Grand Slam. The English team were given a 5 minute standing ovation and then promptly thumped by a great Irish team. But they were probably equally as proud wearing the red of the (British & Irish) Lions, the latter as captain, as were Ciaran Fitzgerald (a Connaughtman with a great Norman name and a captain in the Irish army), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster) and Paul O'Connell (Munster, though the red came more easily to him, obviously). In fact, 10 out of 31 Lions tours were led by Irishmen vs. only 9 English Captains (though Martin Johnson did lead 2 separate tours). Ironically, the Lions wore blue (Scotland) jerseys from 1910 to 1950 and only changed to red (Wales) to avoid clashing with the All-Black colors on the 1950 tour to New Zealand).

Speaking of Lions rugby, I'll admit to a somewhat related pet peeve. One of the greatest Lions players was a certain Tony O'Reilly (scoring a record 37 tries on two Tours) who went on to have a substantial and broadly su

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Padraig 5 years ago

No history lesson here! You know who you are! Sports will set us all free from our binds.I love that a Catholic flies a unionist flag while a Protestant is not afraid to hold an Ireland flag.The difference is their parents must have forgot to tell them to hate the opposition. My parents forgot to also which makes life very easy for me as I am color blind. I fully understand that that would not apply to most who were directly effected by the troubles on both sides and who hold memberships of organizations with rules. History is hard to ignore but these two boys are re-writing it as we speak:) I love that Rory can go to an Ulster rugby game and watch his favorite team. 99% of people at this game are probably Protestant. When I go to watch Leinster 99% are probaby Catholic. I cheered on Rory Best when he lisfted the Churhill Cup for the Irish Rugby team a year or so ago having trampled the England team and chatted to his Mom after the game. We need every single Ulsterman on our Ireland team....I hope more Catholics can play rugby in Ulster and more Protestants are allowed to play GAA. It is a pipe dream today alas but maybe a reality for later generations. My Dad's from Ulster,Mom's from Munster and I grew up in Leinster.I grew up without a day of GAA because all the private Catholic schools in Dublin play rugby almost exclusivley...but I love the game and I suppose that it where Rory is coming from. He loves what he knows growing up in an old protestant neighborhood. You have got to love what he has just done for Ulster and the North/Northern Ireland and will never be the same. Keep your identity and traditions! It's what makes us special. If we can respect each others identity we can all claim this renaisssance in sport in our back yard. The new Celtic Tiger has landed...enjoy!! Padraig

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jhdmbla 5 years ago

... Speaking of Lions rugby, I'll admit to a somewhat related pet peeve. One of the greatest Irish & Lions rugby players was a certain Tony O'Reilly (scoring a record 37 tries on two Tours) who went on to have a substantial and broadly successful business career. And who raised a lot of money through the American Ireland Fund, which he co-founded. Ostensibly for the latter charity work (but at least partly for employing Sarah Ferguson as a Heinz spokesperson, helping her work through her frequent financial troubles), he was awarded a knighthood by the Queen in 2001. No problem there. Bob Geldof was similarly honoured for his charity work. But unlike Geldof, and despite describing himself as a "constitutional nationalist", he sought and received permission from the Irish Government to be able to claim this "title of nobility" due to his pre-1949 Irish birth (i.e. before the formal declaration of Republic) and so be known formally as Sir Anthony (i.e. it's "a substantive not just an hononary knighthood"). Mike Gibson, Willie John McBride & Barry McGuigan are all MBEs and Mary Peters a Dame (equivalent to knighthood) and that's wonderful. They were all born in Northern Ireland and whether they represented Ireland or the UK/GB they are entitled to any and all royal titles, should they choose to accept them (and why wouldn't they). But O'Reilly was born in the 26 counties (albeit the Free State at the time) and to my mind should have accepted the honour but to insist on being known as Sir Anthony and to make the necessary legal changes (i.e. take a British/UK passport to it) sticks in my craw. Sorry, I said it's a pet peeve.

Anyway, green and gold are the GAA colours of my own Royal County, Meath, containing the historic seat of the High-Kings of Ireland in Tara (though the flag of Ancient Meath was supposedly a king on a throne on a blue background). Of course, green and gold are also the colours of the so-called Kingdom of Kerry as well as Leitrim & Donegal so it can't be that special. And let's not mention the green, white and gold colours of Offaly. 'Nuff said.

So to bring it back full circle, would I prefer Rory to play for Ireland in the Olympics (barring injury he will undoubtedly qualify as one of the Top 15 players in the world no matter if there were 2 or more other British or Irish players ahead of him in the world standings)? Of course! He has always represented Ireland before (Golf being one of the four legacy non-GAA island of Ireland sports (Rugby, Hockey & Boxing the others) and I would hope that would continue. But, this being the Olympics, if he feels that he doesn't want to stand on the podium with a gold medal around his neck watching the tricolor rise and Ambhran na bhFiann being played and is more comfortable with the Union Jack and God Save the Queen (or King by that stage), that's his prerogative. Then I'll be rooting for the other Irish golfers who want what I would want. I would still be rooting for Rory to get the bronze, though, (assuming just two other Irish golfers make the cut)! And a knighthood too, for what it's worth!

belfastcelt 5 years ago

Willyrob; what I'm saying is that Loyalists and hard line unionists will pick and choose which catolics are acceptable. Pat Jennings was later adorned by NI fans after becoming a world class player: initially he was booed. Lennon was not accepted playing for "Nordin Irlin" because he played for and went on to captain Celtic FC (an absolute no no in Loyalist circles) and because he wasn't afraid to display his passion for his club.

Nationalists in the North will not support NI football because of the ongoing sectarianism on the terraces and discrimination within the IFA.

I seriously doubt that Rory would be welcome in the Shankill Road Social club or the Sandy Row Rangers club, but I have no doubt that he is more than welcome in any moderate unionist community. I imagine that he would be especially welcome in his native North Down or indeed South Belfast, two areas that have become somewhat of a melting pot for Catholics and Protestants over the last thirty years. In both areas there are many young protestants and catholics who hang out, date, marry and completely shun the polarized politics of extremist Republicans and Loyalists, Rory in my opinion appears to be a product of this new Irish "Genre", for want of a better word. I have relatives who live in south Belfast and have personally witnessed this transformation, it is certainly a world away from the "KAI" (kill all Irish) mentality of extremist Loyalism and a welcome sight as we move forward into the next phase of the history of our island "Ireland".

Barry 5 years ago

Belfast Celt - you make the right points. I live in South Belfast and my rugby club has a ground share agreement with a local GAA club - this works well and the whole community is aware of it and there is little/no dissention. Why is it that mixed middle class communties in N.Down & South Belfast can coexist and have respect for each other's opinions where others can't? I think I can put some sense to this. For years many Catholic kids in these areas have been educated in moderate and open Protestant grammar schools where religious teaching is limited (to say the least!)and in some cases non existent. Kids mix, play sports together, go to parties together and end up growing up WITHOUT the prejudices their parents may have had. So there is your solution. Integrated education and in a generation we could have rid ourselves of these terrible prejudices. Sounds a bit simplistic tho! Then the future Rory and Gmac's can make thses types of decision clearly & freely. Perhaps when this happens Protestant kids will be warmer to the Irish identity within their culture - something that needs nurtured and encouraged, not forced.

If this ends up swaying Catholic kids towards Unionism and Protestant kids towards Nationalism or a mix of both then great - as long as people aren't 'trapped' into these positions as a result of ghettoisation as we sadly see in the working class areas.

Alistair 5 years ago

Padraig - I agree with a lot of what you say but whilst I dont know about the situation at Leinster games but I can guarantee you that whilst there is a sizeable protestant majority at Ulster rugby games it is a long long long way from being 99%. Compared to GAA games or the NI/ROI football matches it is a lot more mixed.

Sean 5 years ago

Point of clarification to JHDMBLA:

Barry McGuigan was born in and lived in Clones in County Monaghan, part of the province of Ulster, but very definately part of the Republic of Ireland. Barry competed for and won a world title in difficult times for a border resident. He had competed in the Commonwealth Games for NI before turning pro as a boxer, and that conditioned his view on the 'community divide, both within NI and the border regions. Perhaps more significantly, Barry married his long time girl, who was not of Barry's own religious persuasion, a significant event in the 1980's. So Barry's position was somewhat different and certainly very different to e.g. Mary Peters and much more closely aligned to Sir Anthonys position, except for the fact that he was born after the foundation of 'the Irish Republic'.

Westmeath Man 5 years ago

Firstly, I think it is a disgrace that Ireland have two different sporting cultures, we are too small an island to be nip picking.

Hence we should be united under sport and celebrate each others success together like we do in rugby. For example we should have only one soccer team etc, however a couple of things would need to be addressed for this to happen. One, the national anthem needs to be changed to include north and south (I don't like the anthem at the moment anyways); Two, the tricolour needs to be changed I suggest having it double side: this way orange and geen will be first and last together. Finally, ban politians form sporting events (that is ban them from been guests of honours), who wants them there anyway all there doing is looking for votes; remember C J Haughey going to France when Stephen Roche won the Tour de France. People will say the flag and anthem are what we are, nonsense! the anthem is only about 100years old and the flag 160 years, besides who decided to use these anyways. Finally, I think the best thing to do is forget about the politics and the religion as both get to much press anyways (they are both diseases). Lets get together and rule the world in sport. George Best always said that Northern Ireland and the Republic will never be anygood on there own, he's right.

Victor Morton  5 years ago

I now live in America, but am a Scottish Catholic by birth and education.

I think it's simply the case that because McIlroy has lived most of his life in conditions of peace in Northern Ireland and his experience of "Northern Ireland" as a political entity was not the Stormont regime or the early 70s troubles. He thus has no reason to reject identification with the political entity from which he objectively comes -- "Northern Ireland" -- and by extension the United Kingdom in those venues where that is relevant.

Even as a boy, I thought there were two possible denouements to the Troubles -- (1) NI Catholics became the majority, the UK cut the province loose, and then (though perhaps not until after a bloody all-island civil war) annexation of the North by the Republic; or (2) the acceptance by NI Catholics of the Northern Ireland state as legitimate and worthy of loyalty.

McIlroy's behavior indicates (2) may be winning out in the long run. "Sellout" contempt from Catholics in the Republic [or worse, emigres or descendants in Boston or New York] in a situation of Northern peace actually has the effect of heightening the distance between the two co-religionist groups, I suspect.

A dual identity with respect to sport is no betrayal, merely a reflection of different rules -- Scotland's curlers play for Scotland in the world championships, for the UK in the Olympics. If I were a world-class soccer or rugby player, I would burst with pride at pulling on the blue shirt. If I were a world-class shot-putter at the Olympics, I might have a St. Andrew's flag for a personal moment but I'd be representing the UK, would wear our colors and respect "God Save the Queen" on the medal stand.

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jhdmbla 5 years ago

H/T to Sean for the clarification on the Clones Cyclone. Should have caught that.

And you raise an interesting point - McGuigan was born in the 26 Counties, yet he represented NI in the 1978 Commonwealth Games and the Republic in 1980 Olympics. His Wikipedia entry states that he "took out British citizenship so that he could compete for British domestic titles". And I think that was totally understandable, he needed to play on the much bigger stage. And McGuigan is still a gold standard on how to walk the fine line between the different traditions and, mixing metaphors, provide a bridge across them, especially in the much more fraught and dangerous times of the 1980's.

O'Reilly's sporting career was long gone and his British citizenship really was purely for vanity (insulting to both sides, in a way). No other way to look at it.

Cedric Park 5 years ago

If the Scots can play for Britain, the Welsh can play for Britain, why not tthe Irish from N. Ireland, as they are all in the United Kingdom? Even the English can play for Britain. It is not a matter of ethnic background but of nationality, as the passport indicates.

There is no reason why Protestants and Catholics should not live peacefully in both Northern Ireland and the Republic Of Ireland. Their beliefs have much in common. It is sad that Protestant pagans and Catholic pagans have little desire to be loyal to their faith and have to revert to tribalism.

Let the icons make their own way in peace.

Barry 5 years ago

The following is from Rory Mcilroy, in his own words as reported in The Irish Times discussing the Irish Open in Killarney. These comments should go someway to rendering this whole thread somewhat irrelevant.

'The Irish Open is very high on the list of tournaments that I would like to win in my career one day,” added McIlroy, who arrived back in Belfast last night.

“I think every golfer has a special place in his or her heart for their national Open and I am no different. To win in front of a home crowd is something we don’t get the chance to do that often, so I’d love to win the title.

“The event was a real success last year with so many people coming down to Killarney to support myself and the other Irish guys. Obviously G-Mac and Pádraig were huge draws as well last year and I am sure it will be the same again this year." End quote

Now if anyone thinks those are the words of a man that doesn't consider himself Irish then I'm afraid I don't know how'Irish' these people expect Mcilroy to be. Remember he is representing GB & NI at the Olympics, probably because he is from NI. The Irish team is the Republic of Ireland and not an All Ireland team. If there was an All Ireland team I am sure he would represent it. If you want to get picky the Irish team should not be called 'Ireland' and should always be referred to as The Republic of Ireland or Southern Ireland even.

Rory McIlroy didn't partition Ireland, Rory didn't fight on any side, Rory is purely a bystander in the broader mess in Ireland that's been left by others so perhaps people should get off his back and leave him alone. For me I don't care who he represents and southerners who have an issue with him making the call to represent GB & NI should really just get over it.

Stevie Hall 5 years ago

Barry, no he can choose to represent Ireland or GB.

When will people accept that he has chosen to represent Britain and feels more British than Irish (as in Republic).

Clearly first and foremost he is Northern Irish but as time moves on I think that will become an identity of its own and in 100 years time hopefully people who are barely in adulthood don't have to tiptoe around every political issue for not wanting to offend one of the two highly sensitive communities.

Human race sometimes needs to grow up.

StevieHall 5 years ago

Oh and also he calls the British Open his 'home' tournament as well.

Barry 5 years ago

Stevie, how do you know he feels more British than Irish? Have you asked him? Perhaps he feels both equally. I am guessing but he may well have chosen the GB & NI team because he is from NI. He was brought up in the system that is the Golfing Union of Ireland without any GB influence. Therefore, I am also suggesting, admittedly hypothetically, that if Ireland could enter the Olympics as an all Ireland team then he would probably opt for it. I think this would be a pretty reasonable assumption to make.

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Barry - I think the quotations from McIlroy in your earlier post do not make this article or the subsequent discussion irrelevant, although I do feel people are starting to lose sight of the article above. The article's argument is that he can't have it both ways - he can't be loyal to Ireland and loyal to the Queen and retain both fan bases (particularly Irish nationalists). So his quotes when added to his quotes on his favouring team GB only compounds the lack of clarity that the article was trying to point out.

The Irish Olympic team consists of both the south and the north, much like the Rugby team except that the Olympic team competes under the tricolour.

The Olympic Council of Ireland includes all Olympic sports that are organised on an all-Ireland basis - so that includes athletics, it does not include football, but by right it should include golf since golf is organised on an all-Ireland basis through the Golfing Union of Ireland. I hope this clears that up.

Barry 5 years ago

Premierkj - I'm afraid I would have to take issue with you on a number of points.

Firstly, you say that the Irish Olympic team includes the North - so both the GB & NI and Irish teams claim 'ownership' of the NI athletes? The Irish team (rightly) uses the Tricolour. Therefore, more than half the poulation in NI may feel that this does not represent them.

Secondly, you cannot make a comparison with other true all Ireland sports. The rugby team does not use the Tricolour. The IRFU organises on a four province basis with the 4 provincial branches in each location. Also, there is no GB team & NI team to claim the Ulster players (Rugby Sevens is being introduced and I understand that the IRFU is in negotiation with the Ulster players).

Thirdly, the main thrust of your article seems to be that NI athletes/players can't have it both ways and continue to enjoy the support of supposed southern nationalists. I beg to differ. Let's see how Rory gets on with the fans in Killarney at the Irish Open. My guess is you'll be disappointed. Many Southern people have already posted here with support of ALL Irish sportspeople regardless of allegiance.

Also, I believe the whole thread you have created here has a whiff of mischief making. I think that you actually believe things that don't exist. Let me explain. You claim that 'mickey mouse' anthems like Ireland's Call helped to avoid the Irish team splitting up. Well, I am 43 years old and have been involved in the game all my life and there was never any threat that the team would split. Where's your evidence? It's nonsense. You also claim the anthem is widely mocked. It is mocked by some, but by a minority in my opinion. Do you go to Lansdowne Road or away games? I go to many and this is not evident.

Also, you claim that Darren Clarke ONLY won the hearts of Irish fans when he was draped in a Tricolour. I think he had won those hearts long before that and you know it. Remember, it was McGinley that (naughtily) did it and I'm not sure big D would have chosen to do it.

Lastly, anyone who claims that the Unionist people's views are an irrelevance because they have no place in Ireland speaks volumes for your motives by creating this blog. Your government and many fellow citizens do not share this view and this is clearly the attitude of the nationalism of yesterday, a bygone era long forgotten.

To ask Irish sportspeople to nail their colours to the mast to win the support of nationalists is a nonsense and is far too simplistic based even on the responses to your very own blog.

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Barry - Your first point: Yes it is really the choice for the athlete who they wish to represent and rightly so, I think we'd agree there. However, as you said "if Ireland could enter the Olympics as an all Ireland team then he would probably opt for it" and the fact is he can enter an all-Ireland team, okay it is under the tricolour but he seemed happy enough to play under the tricolour at the Golf World Cup last year so he is having his cake and eating it too. He plays for Ireland when there is no choice available, and he plays for GB when he has an option of the two.

Your second point - fair enough, the rugby team is different. However, I don't see too many of the official rugby flags flying in the crowd at the games I have to say. As for Ireland's Call, it is a mickey mouse song. It was composed to end tension and relieve sensitivities on those matters. A line from the song goes "We have come to answer our country's call" when really it should read "...our countries' calls" because there is no way that southern nationalists and northern unionists consider themselves from the same country. It just a daft song to stir the emotions of men at a large gathering when intellectual reasoning is far from the priority.

Rory will be welcomed in Killarney because he's a great golfer and a nice guy. There will be plenty of Northern Irish making the trip and plenty of deluded Republicans who don't even know the truth because it's so sensitive it's not really being talked about in the national media. Did you see the guy who threw the tricolour at Rory the other day - that's how delusional people down here are about him. They'd claim anyone (just look at Obama's 'homecoming'). But when McIlroy plays for GB in the Olympics he won't be able to hide his allegiance any more and perhaps the people down here will realise he's British and Northern Irish.

And for your last point - you've quoted me out of context. If you read the entire post I made then I make myself perfectly clear that this is a general view from the south and it was not necessarily my opinion. I referred to the influences on our childhood and education in these matters and that is why such feelings exist. I may have been swaying towards that opinion but I have changed my views quite a bit since then.

Brian 5 years ago

Interesting article, but I'd like to point out to you that Barry McGuigan is not from NI. He is from Clones, Co. Monaghan and although he has strong connections to the North and was really warmly recieved there, he is from the Republic.

Barry 5 years ago


I take your point about Rory representing Ireland at the World Cup and then GB/NI at the Olympics. My take is that Rory is probably very moderate in his viewpoint. Therefore it may only take a subtle influence to change his mind, I'm not really sure. However, if southern fans' support for him evaporates as you suggest I still think this would be a little sad.

Regarding Ireland's Call I personally don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think it has relieved some (moderate) tension. Don't forget Ulster rugby fans stand and observe total respect for the Irish national anthem when played in Dublin. I have no problem with it and frankly enjoy the rousing tune. It's really a question of respect and I would also challenge the absolute viewpoint that all northern unionists and southern nationalists don't believe they are from the same country. As a very moderate unionist I accept that I am from a partitioned country. Rugby has helped me foster lifelong friendships with southern nationalists and in rugby we have a common bond that has also persuaded me to understand that these people are my fellow countrymen.

There are various shades of Unionism. My shade is that I believe that currently we are better off with the UK on economic grounds. But that's all. I don't consider myself British in some way that is life & death like some more extreme versions of Unionism/Loyalism. In fact I have much more in common with moderate nationalism than of that brand of Unionism. I am deeply proud of my Irishness.

I am not sure if you have spent much time in NI, but clearly these are issues that are important to you and I think I have challenged your viewpoints in a way you wouldn't expect from a Unionist. I am also well travelled in the Republic and I know that some of the points you make don't hold sway there as mere generalisations. My guess is that you are from Munster somewhere. In that province, more than any other, I do believe there is the biggest misunderstanding of Unionists and their position. I don't know why this is so, perhaps the rebel county of Cork, perhaps simply because it's geographically the furthest from the North.

I am not trying to dismiss what you are saying but I am suggesting that these issues are not as important to the general Irish sporting population at large as you make out hence my comments about mischief making.

PS - still waiting to hear how & when the Irish rugby team was going to split up!! This will never happen! And best wishes to our cricket team who gave the English a good going over too!

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jhdmbla 5 years ago

Sorry Premierkj, I have to agree with Barry on most of his points. Rory will get a helluva welcome and not just from NI tourists and "deluded Republicans". The guy's Irish and he has represented Ireland in golf since his youth (who knew there was an U10 World Golf tournament, which he won incidentally). As importantly, he has fun doing it and gets the "craic" which is a very Irish, even Celtic thing.

Yes, many Irish would root for Harrington over McIlroy, the same way that I root for Leinster over Ulster in rugby, but I also root for Meath over Dublin in any sport, Leinster over Munster and probably Ulster over Munster in rugby and any and every county (even Cork) over Kerry in Gaelic Football. But I would root for Tipperary over Kilkenny in hurling - there's something very Irish about rooting for the underdog.

BTW, Barry, I'm guessing Premierkj is from Tipp, as it's sometimes referred to as the Premier County, like Meath is the Royal County, Cork the Rebel County, and Kerry as a bunch of loud mouth Culchies. (Also, I just noticed that the colors of the official County Down coat of arms are Green & Gold! Who knew?)

Look, Van Morrison is as NI as you get (his Dad worked in the shipyards), and who's fascinated with his Ulster Scots roots - he likes the word Caledonia (like Hibernia but for Scotland and northern England) so much it's his daughter's middle name, the name of his first production company, his studio, his publishing company etc. - yet he's as Irish as U2, who are Dublin Northsiders (another breed apart).

In fact, I don't think that it will hurt Rory in the US if he plays for GB/UK in the Olympics as the subtleties of the choices will be lost on most Americans (i.e., the stock "NI is part of the UK so he plays for the UK in the Olympics" will be enough of an explanation for most Americans, even the Irish-American cohort). I would just like him to play for the Republic as he would be our best chance for a Gold Medal.

In fact, if there were enough cross-Border sports and/or participants, I'd be in favor of dropping the anthem and tricolor for any medal ceremony for those sports. They could raise a flag similar to the IRFU or Cricket ones (shamrock or harp with or without the 4 provincial emblems) and play the (London)Derry Air (as long as we could all agree on what to call it - maybe Danny Boy - to avoid that potential headache). Just not Ireland's Call - I happen to agree with Premierkj on that one - it works for rugby but we all still sing it with a semi-smile/smirk. For the Opening Ceremony, you could have the tricolor (and whatever is the official flag of Northern Ireland, if there is one by then) followed by the four provincial banners.

After all, Taiwan (aka Republic of China) is not even called Taiwan in the Olympics, due to Mainland China's (aka People's Republic of China - sounds like a Monty Python sketch) sensitivities. It's called Chinese Taipei and has a special flag that's quite different to the official one. And it would allow the British team to use Great Britain or GB as their moniker rather than UK or GB&NI. Let's face it, they'll use GB/Great Britain anyway but at least this way it would be accurate.

brendan 5 years ago

@ jhdmba lol ud make a good detective,the premier county,ur prob correct.

as for barrys comments i agree with u mostly barry, my point is we are all irish on this island,whatever religion or none.

i have protestant neighbours,all gud people and fellow irishmen.

this should all have been finished in the 1920's in my opinion.

have one goverment for the whole island, get a flag and anthem that evryone can be happy with,be friends with our neighbours in britain and build our 32 county republic that includes and cherishes all its children equally.

this crap has to end,people need to join together and leave the past behind.

kittyryan 5 years ago


I did not see the tricolour thrown at Rory at all - but I did hear him refer the the "small nation" that had produced two back-to-back US Open winners before he held the trophy aloft. Well Ulster is a province and I'm sure you will agree there is no way you could call NI a nation! One perceives what one wants to perceive. The Nation of Ireland is proud of Rory and recognises the bridge he is trying to establish between the two communities. He is wise beyond his years - so give him a break.

brendan 5 years ago

@ kittyryan

Just a point that always annoys me, unionists refer to the six counties as a 'province' or 'Ulster'

It is neither, Ulster has 9 counties,it's not therfore a province, so whatever they want to call it i dont know.

It's not even northern Ireland as that is Co Donegal,malin head to be precise.

It's six counties in north eastern Ireland, hardly a nation is it?

Barry 5 years ago

@ Brendan - I think Unionists would argue that the six counties of Northern Ireland is a country. When the state was established by the boundary commission and became a reality then it would have enjoyed equal status in the UK with Scotland and Wales, just as the whole of Ireland had done before.

I suppose you can argue the toss as to whether the constituent parts of the UK are actually countries in their own right.

So while nationalists may argue it's not a country Unionists will argue that it is.

Regarding your point of the use of Ulster and the province, this is an annoyance of mine too. The province is 9 counties and Ulster is 9 counties. The state of Northern Ireland lies within Ulster's boundaries. It also particularly annoys me that some Ulster rugby fans (thankfully not too many) choose to wave the flag in question in this blog rather than the correct yellow/ red version. I am sure Tommy Bowe would not have felt represented by the NI version.

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jhdmbla 5 years ago

Kitty, I did see the tricolor tossed to him as he was walking to the scorer's hut after the US Open and it was gone by the next frame on the video.

And speaking at his home club in Holywood yesterday, Rory said: "To think a European hadn’t won it for 40 years until Graeme did and now the two of us went back-to-back - it’s great. To grow up in tough (weather) conditions here, which there is at a US Open, helped us I think. But I don’t think you can explain back-to-back US Open winners from a country with a population of 1.5 million."

Now I know emigration is picking up again (like in your and my time in the 80's), but there's no way he was referring either to the Republic or the whole island of Ireland. I agree with you, NI is technically not a country but a part (province if you will) of the United Kingdom, the same as Wales, England and Scotland.

But in fairness, if two Scottish golfers or two Welsh golfers had achieved the same, they may have used the same type of language. What would be interesting is if Harrington had won the US Open last year instead, would Rory have used the same type of language. My guess is probably, though without the reference to "1.5 million", maybe 6 million would be more accurate!

Dónall Ó Murchú 5 years ago

I've just spent the last couple of hours reading through this thoughful, provocative and learned discourse.

The awful pity is people don't always think the way we believe they should. I grew up in a Nationalist household -one of a very few- in Andersonstown, I left in 1967 to spend a number of years in Zambia before settling in Dublin where I have been for the past 35 years. At this stage I feel very far removed from the 'North' of my childhood and of the present. Over the years I have been very aware of the prejudices and ignorances 'Southerners' have of all the Northern tribes -Nationalists, Republicans, Loyalists and Unionists. I would distinguish between Nationalism and Republicanism in the same way as I would distinguish between Loyalism and Unionism.

I would know as much about rugby as I do about mud wrestling and would suggest they both have a lot in common but I have great admiration for the IRFU. I think 'Ireland's Call' is an example of how an effort can be made to be inclusive of more than one tradition even if some of my rugby loving friends don't fully appreciate and understand the thinking behind it. Mind you I am still looking forward to the 'leagan as Gaeilge'!

Some people have mentioned the British or Irish appelation being applied to successful sportspersons by the media on this and on our neighbouring island. I have forever been intriguied by the manner in which so many people on this island can adopt and own English/Scottish soccer teams but then resent if anything vaguely similar happens the other way around.

As I see it many of us do love to hate what other people stand for. We see ourselves in relation to others and we define ourselves by what we think we are not rather than what we are.

We have a problem in accepting others for what they want to be themselves.

Rory is a brilliant golfer. Go néirí leis go ceann i bhfad.

Brendan 5 years ago

@ Barry, I agree with you,and I accept unionists will have a different view than me and thats their right and fine with me.

If partition hadn't happened this country would never have known the 'troubles' what a waste of life and terrible tragedy it all was.

I suppose the parts of the six counties where trouble still arises will take time to settle down, I think this has much to do with unemployment and deprivation in these areas as it is in cities around the world.

Take the Queens visit here this year,it was great to see her here and thats coming from a nationalist.

I dont know where the distinction is between nationalist/republican, I would like to see Ireland united as one country by peacefull means, i detest violence.

I dont know if the unionists in the six counties realise how much people in the 26 would welcome them here,I think it would be great for politics to have a parliment/Dail for the whole island.

We have to leave the past behind.

I think Rory while a great golfer has made a mistake by alienating the people of the 26 counties,he had no need to,saying that though I wish him all the best.

Barry 5 years ago

I think Premierkj has heard many opinions on this blog and though I feel the sporting issues being debated here may not be quite as relevant as he initially thinks it's been great contributing and listening to the diverse opinions stated.

In many ways this comes as no surprise. Our situation in Ireland is vastly complex - I think it's fair to say that, even as a Unionist, I would concede that partition was a grave mistake and I have held this view for sometime. It is also not widely known that at the time even Unionists didn't want it. It created the 2 states which were hugely imperfect and contributed massively to the polarised positions which sadly have existed for gnerations. Partition is a contributor for the complex nature of these arguments.

However, we can't turn the clock back and it's too simplistic with the benefit of hindsight to lay the blame for this at the door of the people who were responsible - remember there were major concerns of a civil war and the sectarian killing could have been appalling in a 32 county free state.

For Ireland to become closer it needs more economic integration, it needs more integrated education, it needs even more separation between church and state and most importantly it needs compromise from all our people.

For Nationalists to feel cold towards Rory McIlroy due to the Olympics decision he has made perhaps they need to ask themselves why? For nationalists to truly appeal to Unionists they need to become persuaders not enforcers and there isn't enough of that yet. But it is getting better. Mary McAleese is wonderful. Recognition of all the Irishmen fighting (in the past and still today) in the British army is a big thing for Unionists. I have vistied a realtive lying at peace in a first word war grave; a great uncle who was an officer in the Inniskilling Fusiliers. This cemetery alone had over 1000 Irishmen in it. I was hugley moved by the experience and felt sad for all the 'nationalist' fellas in there long forgotten by their supposed new state. McAleese has changed that, the visit of the Queen has helped too. The airbrushing out of major events in our shared history is at last coming to an end. Don't get me wrong, Unionists need to concede too (but they of course would be ultimately making the biggest concession of all).

Anyhow, sermon over!

I wish all the Irish golfers at the Olympics whether they represent Ireand or GB/NI the best of luck equally and bring the medals back home to our island.

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bdbudda 5 years ago from Ireland

Read this article and some of the comments while googling for article 's on McIlroy winning the US open and something about it that is very engaging. I am from the republic so when I think of my nationality it is fairly simple. Do I regard unionists as Irish, yes. They have been here for 4 hundred years so if they want to consider themselves Irish they have every right. We have a shared history with them even if for a lot of it we have been fighting with them. Think many unionists have a confused identity. Remember talking to a guy from Northern Ireland when I was in Liverpool. He asked me where I was from and I told him I was a fellow Irish man and he looked at me with an angry face. Think if I had told him he was not Irish he would also have been annoyed. Think the rugby is good, an Irish team without politics involved. Personally would have no problem with all Ireland teams playing under neutral flags and anthems at home and away but don't like the rugby anthem 'Irelands call' as it is not good. Taught McDowell's interviews were great after winning the US open, seemed a great story of a man from mixed background trying to represent both sides. Very surprised to read on here McIlroy is catholic, always presummed he was protestant due to his love of the old Northern Ireland flag. Was disappointed when he said he would choose GB over Ireland for the olympics as he is a great golfer and seems like a good guy but taught you have got to respect his identity. Still have to respect his choice but now seems completely bizarre given the history of catholics in Northern Ireland that the first Northern golfer to come out and nail his political colors to the mast is a catholic in support of Britain. Even in the profiles on TV of his family were talking of his grandfather working in Harlond and Wolff, he seems to want to portray himself as having an protestant background and ignore any catholic background which I don't like.

David 5 years ago

It seems to me that there is some distastefull people who still live in this part of the world. I

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Ardillaun 5 years ago

What a weekend! Had to PVR the golf and watch it backwards in case another Masters' surprise was in store.

But, of course, as soon as he DIDN'T choke, new pressures were applied. How many Majors is he going to win? One is almost nothing, after all. And then the flag rumpus. It's a bit sad that our green, white and orange flag, symbolizing reconciliation between Ireland's two traditions, should cause so much tribal bickering but there you have it.

One thing I do hope for - no golf, Irish or British, in the Olympics. I like golf, I play it and I watch way too much of it already. But the Olympics Games are the one event every four years where the best athletes in the world have our attention. It's bad enough cutting away from the 5,000 metres final for basketball. But for golf?

ireniall 5 years ago

i'm a southern catholic who is mildly nationalistic.i'm different from other southerners in that i dislike the border to the extent that i would prefer to have much closer ties with gb to get rid of it(the queen is fine but they're not having our president or our 12&1/2percent corporation tax lol,or their 7bn back-jesus the shame!)to me we have very strong cultural ties with the other island anyway since we are all anglicised celts to a greater or lesser extent-even the english- and have often strong family connections across the pond.i have therefore a bit of sympathy for rory mcilroy and the other northern sportsmen who are in the two nations me it is embarassing when some eejit forces a tricolour onto one of them when they've won something.they're usually too polite to refuse and then get themselves and their families back home into s**t from the neighbours as 'fast eddie' irvine and wayne mccullough have's disrespectful also-it could well be that they are from the other tradition but don't want to insult nationalist ireland by obviously rejecting the flag.personally i'm delighted that nearly all of these people still consider themselves irish but i view with absolute dismay the increasing tendency of the northern people of both traditions to view themselves as northern irish.when rory,graeme and darren play under a seperate flag,it leaves me a little bit empty.the answer is many of the other contributors have already said,it's time to agree a flag for the whole island.nobody has to lose their own flag,just on the occasions that people represent the whole island,they would play under this could be agreed by the north/south parliamentary whatsit and would be an official flag for both me the flag of st patrick would be was incorporated into the union jack in 1800 after the infamous act of union and would therefore be likely to appeal to the 'prods'.it would get the northern sports people out of their pickle,which,i suspect,they would jump at and it would allow us to bask in the glory of nearly all of the marvellous sporting performers that seem to come from our small country so often

CHW 5 years ago

Is it really so difficult for some of you to understand that many in Northern Ireland are no longer interested in the Catholic/Protesant nationalist/ Unionist argument? Why not let this younger generation grow up without all that bitterness? Stop trying to impose your fight on others.

ireniall 5 years ago

I dont know if that last comment is directed at me or not but i would agree with the general sentiment.I imagine that many in Northern Ireland are afraid to even raise such issues given the trouble which has been endured over them.However i'm not sure that ignoring each others positions is productive in the long run.I think this younger generation will manage much better if moderate people on both sides provide a framework for them to grow up in which has ironed out the points of conflict and provided an agreed path into the future.

One other point.It seems obvious to me that deep down,nationalists do not want a united Ireland.Much like the Scottish Nationlist party which gets more support when it stops talking about an independent Scotland,nationalists in Ireland really view a united Ireland as more an aspiration which may well never be attained.They dont want to pay more tax for it and they dont want above all any conflict over it.The question is ,therefore,would the unionist side be happy with the idea of a united Ireland in every other way- a united people-proud to be Irish?Is the unionist community divided on this issue/

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

Britain's Rory McIlroy seems to have a monopoly over the Irish media this week. The stories from RTE have been one McIlroy headline after another. There's hardly been a mention of our own illustrious player who's competing in the Open - His name is Padraig Harrington, for those RTE viewers who may not have heard of him.

kittyryan 5 years ago

Well Brendan, we are getting a bit threadbare here. I need my education improved. When I was going to school we were told that there were four provinces in Ireland. Namely, Ulster, Munster, Leinster & Connaught. I always thought that when the song "four green fields, each one like a jewel" was sung they were referring to the Provinces and giving them equal status, yes even in song. Am I mistaken? I understand that the six counties is a British annexe - not a country and - Oh and I am not a Unionist! Jhdmbla - goodness me - are there 6 million people in Ireland now? Premierjk - I am not dyslexic but you ought to change your name and why have you that Satanic image as your profile. Clearly you are not (satanic i.e.) but it is off-putting. Also this blog has been polite and engaging because it is edited and therefore lots of bad stuff won't be printed. Anyone who wants Rory to 'pin his colours to the mast' has not lived through the savagery that was NI because if he does some bigot/extremist will make him pay for it. Now I have had my almost 70-year-old spiel and am looking forward to the British Open this week end. Cheers Kitty

Big Jay 5 years ago

If Rory doesn't play for Ireland in the olympics he is going to lose alot of fans in Ireland, but i guess it is his choice at the end of the day. On another point about footballers born in the north playing for the republic, maybe if some ''so called'' northern ireland football fans stopped sending catholic players bullets/bombs in the posts it might help. Be nice to see them all playing as one nation one in all sports, like the cricket and rugby.

riversdale boy 5 years ago

listening to clarke today talkn about his little country and how it amazes him that so many players have come from there is just alot of time for the guy but how can u say that about 6 counties...its not even a provense!

this was a guy who was waving the tricolour on many occasions and he s also named his sons connor and tyrone!do they really get that soft when they live in england?

for what its worth im a proud irishman and will never recognise n ireland but i wud like to see the country rejoin the union with this will bring about unity.

it may be unpopular to some but chatting to alot of people i know in dublin it seems a popular choice to ending all arguments.

sam is coming home

Nigel 5 years ago

I am amazed at all the bigots who cannot and will not move on! Rory was born in Northern Ireland and NI is part of the UK, if he so wishes to show of the Ulster flag aroung his shoulders then so be it what is the problem with that!!!

The sad thing is that there are so many people who will not move on and grab this opportunity to take in peace.

Rory is great and can help heal the divide that sweeps the Island, for god sake all you people that cant move on and look forward to the future my answer to you lot is get lost you aint worth the taking up of the space you currently stand on.

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premierkj 5 years ago from Republic of Ireland Author

"this blog has been polite and engaging because it is edited and therefore lots of bad stuff won't be printed." -Kitty Ryan.

Hi Kitty - There have only been two comments that I deleted and that was down to personal insults and blatant factual inaccuracies. I haven't deleted anyone's point of view about the subject at hand.

Nigel - I'm not sure who you're talking about to be honest. Both nationalists and unionists have moved on and there is peace, which unless I'm mistaken is progress. However, if you think that we're all one happy island who should share the same beliefs and loyalties then you're living in a dream world of the most simplistic proportions. There is no warfare on this thread and nobody hates anyone - your comment is actually the closest to pure hatred I've read. You seem to hate the idea of an open and honest discussion about our differences and what our feelings are regarding this subject of identity and its influences. I suggest you should put your head back in the sand.

Aaron 5 years ago

Rory grew up a catholic, went to catholic primary school and a mixed grammar school where tolerance was promoted, he has a protestant girlfriend and may other friends from all persuasions, his family still goes to chapel, lives in a 90% protestant 10% catholic area, his uncle was shot and killed by loyalist paramilitaries (UVF), his family turned the other cheek to the madmen and got on with they're lives. Rory is trying his best to appease both sides of this ridiculous balls up of a situation we call home, call it what ever you want, its always going to be total nonsense. It’s a sad, sad affair…for the boy with the crazy hair lol. GO RORY!, DO IT FOR ERM ERR UMMM, DO IT FOR YER MA!!

Will 5 years ago

Rory McIlroy is Rory McIlroy. Im a catholic from Northern Ireland. I live in Northern Ireland on the Island of Ireland. I am Northern Irish as I don't see myself as Irish. I am sick of the way the Irish media and many southerners seem to think that wrapping yourself up in a tri colour makes you 'neutral'. IRA terrorists who were killed or killed themselves were buried under this flag and this flag is viewed as highly contentious by the community their victims came from.

I agree Northern Ireland should have a flag of its own; the St Patricks cross,whereby our sportsmen would not be subjected to this torutre.

Interestingly, conducting a google search I discovered there are numerous similar discussions around Darren Clarke praising him for appearing with a tri colour and hence almost claiming him a nationalist. Ironically at the same time, i was watching sky sports who asked Darren should Northern Ireland host an Open in Portrush. Darrens reply was yes because, 'Portrush is one of the finest golf courses in the UK'. Now will the same nationalist bloggers disown him becasue he publicly referred to Portrush, Co Antrim as being in the UK? Stop berrating these guys over their political and cultural beliefs. If they want to be Irish, Northern Irish whatever that is their personal opinion. People should take more notice not of the Ulster banner positioned beside their name or the NIR but the absence of the tricolour. If the assembley could agree on a new flag for Northern Ireland they would all fly it with pride, thus no need to be seen nervously holding one or the other, and I also firmly believe if NI had a new flag we will not be seeing Clarke, McIlroy or GMac pictured with a tri colour while competing for themselves.

Shaun 5 years ago

I'm going for a beer, to be honest this is silly an pointless, I'm Irish catholic. From co Antrim been living in the states for 5 years I miss home but DO NOT miss this bs, an the truth it's never going to change, it's only when u get away from it that u realize how brain washed u have become over this topic, half if not more of my friends over here are protestants they support rangers I support Celtic, they call themselves Irish as that is what they are, I'm getting married to a black woman next year who would make byeonce look like Vera duckworth, my family back home have not spoke to me since. So that gives you some idea of what your up against, like I said brain washed from an early age about religion an beliefs utter bullshit, who cares who cares what religion colour race or whatever any1 is, let's worry about paying next months electric bill or mortgage payment,making sure our kids have food on the table, I'm glad I'm away for all for that but I never forget who I am an where I come from, now that's enough of this silliness people, go get the kettle on an watch the soaps, them I do miss, god bless y'all

Shaun 5 years ago

An as for mcillory if he does choose to play an represent England he will loose alot of his support over here, the American people right now love him because he's Irish, an most Americans want to be Irish weather it's there great great great great great grandfathers father that owned a dog from Ireland or what ever they want to be Irish, I guess their brainwashed to after all they do call crisps. Chips lol

kittyryan 5 years ago

They should bottle the water or whatever is producing those world-class golfers. A tiny place with big hearts. Go Darren -GMac and Rory enjoy.

Peter 5 years ago

Wow, unbelievable. I'm a Kerryman (no jokes please) and a very lapsed Catholic who attended a protestant funeral last week in Tipperary and felt inspired by the humility of the congregation and beauty of the service. This thread is such an eye opener. Hopefully all those little people claiming or rejecting these fantastic sportsmen for one side or another represent a small minority. I think it is very clear that GMac, Rory, and Darren are trying to respect all traditions. It was an honor to be in Croke Park when the British anthem received the respect it deserved although attending the 18 all Ireland finals that Kerry played in since 1978 (when I wad 2) was obviously a big thrill. Proud to be Irish, I can speak the language, I love my national games, feel a strong spiritual identity with my local landscape in Killarney but as important is the respect I have for all traditions on the Island and warmt I feel for our close neighbours in Northern Ireland or across the Irish sea. Can we please remove that awful bigotry associated with Celtic / Rangers from these world class golfers? A time to move on and respect each other.

ireniall 5 years ago

Here we go again -Northern Ireland,Northern Ireland,Northern Ireland-after Darren Clarks wonderful victory in the British Open everyone in the 'anglosphere' is aware of it-but no mention for good old Ireland.We have between us all won a substantial percentage of the last 20 or so majors but in the post victory celebrations there was no mention of Ireland or Padraig Harrington-just Northern Ireland-it was almost pointed.If it had been Padraig who had won there would have been a hell of a fuss-mention would have been made of all of them going back to Fred Daly-but no-Harrington,the only southern golfer ,the only one not mentioned.I'm afraid Barry(i've loved your posts) -if it was you -or maybe many of your friends , you would not have been found wanting in this regard but you are not representative.Those three northern golfers are no fanatics or anything like that.They just dont feel Irish.I wouldn't care if they came down here with sashes offering to save us from our Catholicism-if they agreed they were fellow Irish-i would listen to them-but this is not good enough,it's plain ,they do not represent us.I'm afraid I have to agree with Premierkj on that issue.We should really have our own southern team.

I must respond to Will's recent,rather bitter, post.I personally utterly detest Sinn Fein/IRA and everything they stand for.Unlike most southerners i agree that quite a few of our own national heroes of 1916 were not one bit better than them.I suppose if the modern version of the IRA didnt exist we could go on adding to this Republican myth and in a few hundred years it wouldn't matter but we have seen all too closely the shameful,dishonourable sullying of our country's name.For some thirty years now Northern nationalists have been the de facto leaders of the Irish.John Hume(voted the greatest Irishman),Gerry Fitt and the others held the line against barbarism.It is ,therefore, Will,somewhat perverse that you attack us down here in the manner that you have-to the extent that i would question your description of yourself.It sounds more like an unreasonable loyalist position.It just is not credible that a northern catholic, two thirds of whom now vote for Sinn Fein,could berate southerners on the grounds of excessive nationalism.The one and only good thing about the border is that it keeps that crowd with their mean and small version of Irishness from poisoning the political system down here

Alistair 5 years ago

ireniall - you say these three golfers dont feel Irish, how do you know that? Many people from NI call themselves a mix of Irish, Northern Irish and British. I dont know to be honest where these 3 fit into that but Irish golf is organised on an island basis so they may feel comfortable with the Irish tag, probably alongside one or two of the others, but there nonetheless.

You dont have to be nationalist, catholic and gaelic to be a proper Irishman, however this quite exclusive version of Irishness is something that has been widely propogated for the past 100 years or so. It has been wonderfully effective in cultivating a national identity in the Republic that is very different from the UK, as was its goal, but it has also had the effect of making those people who dont fit into this version of irishness abandon their claim to Irishness. At football matches at Windsor Park, hardly a bastion of nationalism, the fans up until the 1960s chanted "Ireland", not "Northern Ireland". Nowadays not all, but many of these fans dont feel "irish" at all, they feel exclusively Northern Irish and or British.

I wonder if those who do propogate the more exclusive idea of Irishness ever stop and think their actions make 1 million people plus in NI less and less likely to want unification?

Peter 5 years ago

@ Alistair. In reality, I would actually doubt that unification of the 2 states on the Island is as big a desire for so called nationalists as so called unionists may actually imagine or even fear. I'm very identifiably Irish in so far as I am fluent in Irish, love Gaelic games, and identify strongly with the landscape and ancient monuments dotted across the state but I really have no desire to see a united Ireland, nor do I support any Scottish football teams, I rather like the Queen, laugh at English comedians, and support an English football club. I am comfortable with my heritage and can respective & enjoy others. To be fair a sizable but silent majority feel the same in the Irish state.

Paul 5 years ago

Indeed Alistair - nail on the head. If anything, this thread shows more the dire state of education in the RoI than anything is.

The fact is that the words like "Ireland" and "Irish" have been hijacked and have changed meaning for many in the south from their original meaning of simply the island. Many southerners only see "Irish" or "Ireland" in their own narrow Irish Republican/separatist definition under their own Irish separatist flag.

Southerners also only see British as being "the other island", yet it could also be argued that ALL of Ireland is also British in the British Isles sense. Many Unionists see the archipelago as the more natural geographic/cultural unit and not the one isolated island. The reality is that if on the island we have more in common than not, then as much we have more in common than not in the archipelago.

kittyryan 5 years ago

Here we go again Ireniall NI, NI, NI- the politics of envy. This thread had taken us on a journey and in all directions psychologically and geographically - indeed the psyche of the country has been laid bare. Press Home on your computer you will find the beginning of the discourse was Rory McIlroy and he is from the Northern part not the Southern part! He is the one with the so-called identity crisis not Padraig Harrington. Golf is alive and well all over the country and to get 3 Major winners in the space of 12 months from a little place like NI is phenomenal. Be generous for heaven's sake. You remind me of someone in our Pub in Ireland back when the Presidential Election nominees (that Mary Robinson subsequently won)were coming forward. Some narrow-minded patron complained "What's Austin Currie running for - he's not even Irish"! Deathly silence and "Oops sorry Missus." Not to let him get away with it I reminded him that Austin Currie's wife was savagely beaten in her own home for being a catholic which equates with Irishness in NI. The Austin Currie's/John Hume history is well known in Ireland - so what more do they have to do. I can only imagine you are in the 30-40 age bracket which could not give you the breadth of understanding of Rory McIlroy,s situation or anyone living in N.I. You are stuck in that old "Mother Ireland" mode. Come into the light - broaden your mind -leave room for tolerance. You'll be a lot happier.

Take up golf.

ireniall 5 years ago

Hi Alistair-thanks for answering my post-i've been on holiday and couldn't answer your contribution sooner-but I see Paul and Peter have done an excellent job.I cant claim to actually speak Gaelic but otherwise I would describe myself along the same lines as they do. Gaelic is a language which is a remnant of a time when Celtic culture once prevailed across the whole of Europe.This cultural dominance was based on the Celts having been the first to use iron weapons(yes-they were imperialists lol)In the process they have left a legacy of placenames which obviously includes nearly all those in the Celtic countries, but also cities like Kiev,Lyon and yes London.Londonderry is ,therefore,deliciously,an entirely Celtic name.Gaelic ,the third language in Europe to be written down, after Greek and Latin,is the native language of both Ireland and Scotland and the Isle of Man.It is ,with its sister Celtic languages,Welsh(over 1m speakers)and Cornish(extinct),exclusive to these islands or those areas colonised by them.Since the only name that I am aware of ,which describes these islands collectively ,is 'The British Isles',it follows that Gaelic is a very British language.Yes it is a very Irish language but a British one too.The notion that there is a conflict between being British and Irish is a complete invention.It would be no more rediculous to claim that the Irish were exclusively different because of the different accent we have when speaking English.

Regarding the three outstanding Ulster golfers,Alistair it is surely the case that if they felt any common ground as Irishmen,they would have mentioned Harringtons recent triumphs.That they have played for all Ireland teams in the past should have made it all the more natural.The exclusion of Harrington,the only southern golfer, can have only one reasonable interpretation-they dont feel any kinship with him or the south.Darren Clarks post-victory celebration was a party to which the south was not invited.

While this is disappointing to me it is not surprising.Your own description of the success of the republican agenda and the inevitable and equally successful loyalist response to it is one that I agree with entirely.I note the obvious regret over it on your part and I'd say that many in the south would share that now.There is ,however one difference which concerns me about it.The Unionist tradition ,no doubt because of its minority position within Ireland,has no all-island dimension.There is no hankering after a return to the old UK ,which included all of Ireland ,to match the the hankering after a united Ireland which the republican side has(laughably -on their own terms of course).In countering the narrow nationalist message of Sinn Fein a united Irishman has a powerful argument-it further deepens the division of our country.However moderate Unionisms equivalent is that exclusive Loyalism further divides Northern Ireland only.Unionism is in the process of nation-building on the basis of a historic alliance with northern nationalists alone which essentially excludes the south as much as possible.

This is of course a very good thing for everyone and far,far better than what went before,I hope and believe it will succeed.But forgive me if I have a little niggle.This has the potential to be a permanent and final division of my country.I want to be invited to the party.I want to be associated with the rotund ,Guinness swilling,cigar-puffing 42 year old who has taken some of the slings and arrows that life has to throw and come out on top

ireniall 5 years ago

@kittyryan-dear oh dear kitty-take up golf,broaden my mind etc.-ouch

I didn't see your ill-considered post until I had finished my own one above -so I'll have to respond now in a seperate one

Unlike yourself I've actually done you the honour of reading your posts before attacking but ,I guess,whatever

I fully realise that Northern nationalists must get pretty irritated when they find people in the south who have the luxury of being fairly apolitical because of the uncontested nature of the southern state.Not being armed with the facts they often fall into very obvious traps as you describe

There is however an equally irritating tendency on the part of some northerners(the offensive IRA apologist and general all round show-off Nell McCafferty comes to mind)to think that southerners, because they cant feel your pain,have ,therefore no right to any opinion about the Irish situation.I'm sure you made that poor old southern gobshite feel pretty small.You strike me as a person who enjoys handing out put-downs-not very generous.

To make matters worse,having,unlike the rest of us,moved on to pastures new where everyone is so broadminded and tolerant you feel you have the right to preach to us from this high hill of moral superiority.It's a bit like the assumption foreigners often make that the Irish conflict is actually about the religion or something else equally small and unworthy.If the Irish would grow up they would see how stupid it is .Of course we in Ireland know very well that the Irish conflict is exactly the same as nearly all human conflicts-it's about power and privelege and the sharing of it in some manner which causes the least dissent

In reviewing your posts it was quite striking to me the complete lack of any opinion being expressed in them.In fact you seem to be terribly concerned that nobody actually voices an opinion about these subjects as if it's just all too much and we wont be able for the consequences.Its like you think that with a bit of happy-clappy,tree hugging do -goodery this ancient quarrel will just disappear.What are you posting on this site for-it's here to discuss these things.In contrast to yourself i've made it clear what my opinions are.Of course it's typical of someone who has nothing to say, to target the messenger when they dont like the opinions they're hearing.Normally internet anonymity precludes this but i see you've had a go at it anyway.While your amateur psychiatry is laughably wide of the mark i would much prefer that you would debate what i am saying rather than who or what i am.Stop hiding in the long grass hoping that the large ,slow-moving targets you seem to prefer stumble into your line of fire. Come out and give us your opinions-if you have any

Finally i wish to return the favour regarding the lifstyle advice which you so kindly gave me in your post.Read some more books-it'll broaden your mind -it'll make you happier-the golf isn't working

kittyryan 5 years ago

Ouch!Ouch!Ouch! Time I went on me way. God Bless, it was a great read. As for that stab at Nell - remember on the Late Show when they gave her a makeover and put her in a boned brassiere - she hooted with laughter and said "What about me - the first woman behind the wire!! That's what you get from Northerners - good humour.

ireniall 5 years ago

@kittyryan-allright kitty-now you've made me feel like a bollox-i know i take this stuff too seriously-sorry for the rant-you obviously are a generous person-are the two of us not on the same side really?

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Padraig 5 years ago

@ Paul, why the piss and vinegar.....("the dire state of education in the RoI" ...Many southerners only see "Irish" or "Ireland" in their own narrow Irish Republican/separatist definition".)

Why can't you agree with Alistair and leave it alone.Alistair makes a fair point and you..... Is the standard of education better in NI..probably not! Almost half the population of the ROI live in Dublin. You should visit your brethern in the capital now and then and see what a moderate bunch we are...not the rabid republicans you dream about.

~Me thinks you spend too much time in your 6 counties listening to the propoganda spewed out daily by your government DUP + Sinn Fein...God forbid a moderate view can ever be heard in the Entity that is Northern Ireland.You are forced to listen to so much Sinn Fein propaganda you assume those "Southerners" have similar views.

A Solution for you peeps on the otherside of the border on being "IRISH". I thought this was the case already.. Catholics call themselves Irish,Protestants call themselves Northern Irish.....this way everyones Irish whether you like it or not...just Kidding :)

I will not pretend to have gone through any of the pain,hurt and inevitable hate that people from the North/Northern Ireland have gone through but the truth will set you free. Education unfortunately will not!

One paradox I found disturbing when living in London was that very well educated individuals(from NI) could be equally likely to be sectarian or racist. So Paul I am not surprised by your knee jerk reaction but it does make me sad.

NI should get a new flag so that no sports personalities are put in any dilemma again. Agreed on the choice of Saint Patrick's Cross with a shamrock thrown in..(Ireland's symbol is the harp)

What these three boys are doing for the whole Island(& Britain) is fantastic. Whether they are 3 Unionists, Whether Darren invites me or another Padraig to his celebration doesn't bother me.It will not stop me from claiming them all. Although Padraig does have back to back British Open Titles which will probably be out of all three of the former's reach.

It makes me feel good that Darren Clarke and I were born on the same day almost 43 years ago.I'll sink a few black ones in his honor.

Alistair 5 years ago

ireniall - I have zero against someone learning speaking irish. My comment about "Irishness" being only for the RC Gaels amongst us wasnt meant to indicate any dislike for Gaelic interest or Roman Catholicism.

As for the golfers irishness it is all very complicated but that is just the way things are. I think it does hit at the heart of the NI/ROI thing. Even for those who grew up as active or romantic nationalists in the north we are, like it or not, in a different country than the ROI. We largely watch BBC NI and UTV, not RTE and TV3. We do GCSEs and A Levels, not leaving certs. Our road signs are different. The taxes we pay are different. The currency we use is different. Our police our different. Our laws are different. We have a free NHS, you have a partially private one. We have the same uni admissions as Britain, different from the ROI. I could go on and on. Even for those who would have nationalistic leanings growing up in such a different environment is going to have an effect. For those who are of unionist leanings, along with the capture of "irishness" that I talked about in my last post it makes us seem even more different.

All of this is going to lead to a lot of people from the north identifying strongly with first of all Northern Ireland above any all island Irishness or indeed Britishness. NI doesnt have a great deal of good news stories, so when it does everyone is going to play up the NI aspect of this story as much as possible.

When Padraig Harrington won the Open many glasses would have been raised to him in NI. Vastly more than would have happened should even a popular British golfer like Westwood claim the title. Darren, Rory and Graeme winning though was on a different level. Theirs was like a brother winning it, Harrington was like a cousin, Westwood would be like a slightly more distant cousin or good family friend!

I am sure Darren does not mean to leave Padraig, the golfer Padraig and yourself out of any parties and would be delighted if the 3 of you turned up. After all, this is a man who goes on about Northern Ireland golf all the time, who called the British Open his "home" competition but who in the last day or two said how important the Irish Open held in Killarney, his "national" competition, was and who jumped in with Harrington and McGinley under the ROI's tricolour at the K club joking - I better get under the orange bit of this.

Complicated indeed, but thats just the mixed up way a lot of people in NI are regarding nationality.

Regarding the United Ireland back in the UK thing. If you ask me personally - this would be my ideal consitutional position for these islands except for one little problem - the vast vast majority of people in the ROI who have no interest at all in it. It isnt even a vaguely realistic prospect and no matter what any unionist could say that boat has very much sailed, nobody has any interest in forcing it upon the southern irish people so why talk about it? Interestingly I remember around a year ago Ian Paisely Senior did say something about it, saying he hoped to see a United Ireland back in the Union. Doubt the big man will get his wish, and that is fair enough.

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Padraig 5 years ago

Alistair- Well said my friend!

I know Darren would definitely not exclude his fans from the south.

~I learned recently that Gaelic (Irish/Scottish) learning is becoming more common in NI with a little black girl speaking fluent Irish on the! I know Prince Charles is almost fluent at the language which always ceases to amaze me. I believe he learned from some of the larger islands in Scotland where the language is still the main one.

ireniall 5 years ago

Great story about Clark and the tricolour-what a good old guy he is.Ok Alistair I think you've won the argument on that one-meself Padraig and Clark at a party-sounds good-I think there would be carnage.

I wasn't for one minute offended by your description of us as RC,Gaelic etc.-my long-winded defence of Gaelic was intended to show that there is overwhelming cultural unity across these islands-nothing else.Forgive my clonking stumblings,I know I'm asking questions that northerners dont need to ask because they know it instinctively,but we are slightly removed down here and need it spelled out more.I've been taken to task already over it so I dont want to provoke another lashing.

My general idea is that the differeces between us are of political allegience and nothing else.I didn't bring up the subject of a united Ireland back in the union because i think its likely to happen,I'm just asking if there is among Unionists a feeling of an all-island dimension.I consider Unionists who want all of Ireland back in the union to be much closer to me than those who dont care and just want seperation from the south.As you say, that ship has sailed but i think if you can see where people are coming from you can better see where they might go.

I am occasionally amused when I hear ordinary Ulster people speaking in fatalistically resigned tones of the inevitability of a united Ireland,I think the notion that the Taigs would outbreed them was adding to this.The Taigs will outbreed them allright and they will vote for N.I. to remain as part of the UK.In every survey conducted north or south nationalists have made it plain they wouldn't pay more taxes for a united Ireland.Nobody wants to touch that subject with a bargepole.Back in 1922 there were two ships that sailed,not one

So we can stand back and look at each other in frustrated impotence or we can grab the half a loaf thats available to us.So right ,here goes-this is my solution to the Irish problem-dont laugh

1.Irish Republic rejoins the British Commonwealth and accepts the Queen of England as head of state while keeping the president

2.Irish president is elected from all of Ireland

3.An agreed flag containing elements of St.Patricks flag and the tricolour would be brought in and flown over the official residence of the president in Phoenix Park

4.This agreed flag would become the official flag of Northern Ireland

5.all sports and cultural representatives whether all-Ireland or not would be expected to perform under this flag.Ireland would be represented as one team in the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.Sports would be officially encouraged to become cross-border.In the event of a clash between two Irish teams-the south changes to the tricolour -the north keeps the new flag

Unofficially or even officially -the republic would promote the interests of all of Ireland at EU and international level.The north would do the same at UK level.-What do yee think lads -good or what?

pat 5 years ago

Thats very complicated Padraig,

let me simplify it 4u, brits out,end of.

Ireland has 32 counties,it is an island nation.

every mothers son born here is Irish,stop pandering to unionist bigots.

norn iron was created so as unionists could keep their hands on power and wealth and keep the croppies down,fuck the brits,they brought this trouble here and have propagated division among the people,

as the song says stick ur union jack,we want our country back.

anyway as previously said,northern ireland is not a country,or a province,or Ulster, it is part of all of the above tho, part of Ulster,part of Ireland,and part of the province of Ulster

Saoirse Eire

Alistair 5 years ago

So "Brits out, end of" is the solution eh? Genius.

Be fascinating to see what would happen if the 1 million plus people in NI who claim some element of "Britishness", not to mention the 1/4 of a million in the ROI who also put that down on a recent census were suddenly evicted. You think the south has problems with ghost housing estates now? Imagine what it is like when people in the 26 counties realise they can nip up the road and live in Rory McIlroys house for nowt!

Also, I am wondering where we would be evicted to? Britain is a pretty crowded place so not sure there would be a good idea. With nearly 1.5 million on board the evacuation ship it probably is too many to take over an uninhabited tropical island, as nice as that sounds. Maybe some part of Australia? It is sparsely populated, but the coastal areas with available fresh water are few and far between, plus, with the aversion to sun that many of us "Brits" have it probably isnt a sensible thing. I am thinking probably the southern island of New Zealand is probably the best bet. Weather like here but a little better, scenery similar to here but a little bit bigger, speak the same language as the locals (roughly) and not overly populated. As an added benefit if we get there in time we could swap being extras in Game Of Thrones for a chance to be in The Hobbit!

If that doesnt work out, here is a bit of a wild idea. Zimbabwe. Sounds daft initially but think on a little more and it makes sense.

- Zim is not very crowded due to Uncle Bobs population reduction scheme. Plenty of space for us to move in.

- We could create a brand new Londonderry and not have to occasionally drop the "L" bit.

- Farming there is in crisis due to 99% of the people who know how to do it being dead or gone - could be revitalised by the arrival of people who do know how to do it (though might be a change for them in that they have to grow crops and animals primarily to sell rather than to get EU funds for). Imagine the headlines in the african papers "White people with Irish accents who swear they arent irish and get annoyed when people call them irish solve Zimbabwean food crisis!"

- Prior ancestral experience of booting natives off their land.

- Locals would probably like to join in on orange marches rather than protest them - though they might want to liven up the bands and the costumes - hard to disagree in that case.

- 1.5 million angry paddy-brit crossbreeds more than enough of a critical mass that Uncle Bob couldnt push us around.

This is the solution people. Zimbabwe here we come.

ireniall 5 years ago

'paddy-brit crossbreeds'-'prior ancestral experience....'-my sides are aching Alistair-you're obviously not taking Pats post very seriously-jesus Alistair I thought you Prods were supposed to be a bit straightlaced

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Padraig 5 years ago

Alistair, too funny, I love it! Although it might be easier to rename the Isle of Man "New Caledonia". Change the Corporation tax to 5% undercutting the ROI. The remaining population in Northern Eire will now be speaking Irish exclusively guaranteeing no foreign investment. With an Orangle flag and a dutch coach in tow New Caledonia will beat the Germans in the next world cup final! Bingo, it will be richer than the Cayman need to plough the fields.

It looks like Paul and Pat will end up in government together DUP & SF.

Pat even though your thesis does give creedance to the propoganda that Paul has been forced to inhale it is 400 years to late. It would be easier to move the Isrealis out of Palestine (only 60 years).

As I said before it is easy for me to pontificate as I grew up in the ROI where most have learned that Nationalism and Religion can both be poisonous if used in the wrong measure. I would not dare tell you to recallibrate as you have lived through this. I however cannot ignore the biggest part of the equation in this Entity. I will continue to "pander" to what's moderate and prcatical from both sides(Unionsit & Nationalist).

I dare say the war is over and battles are being fought for cultural, language, jobs and equal opportunity to 3rd level education.

One day the money will be cut off from London and do not rely on money from will be interesting to see if both sides will come together and stand on its own two thinks it can and will!

Paul 5 years ago

Padraig, you seem to have become obsessed with me, even though I have expressed in a few short sentences what is a rather liberal Unionist viewpoint of embracing an Irish identity.

Sounds like nothing more than the truth hurting. People like Rory McIlroy are NOT the ones with an "Identity Crisis" here, and this thread shows that. The Northern Irish version of identity is one that is much more honest and real than that in the south. Southerners (after following the likes of De Valera) have hijacked the terminology of "Ireland" and "Irish" and this thread is a shining typical example of such ignorance. I have even met southerners who have been "offended" at being called Southern Irish - sounds like Padraig is one of the similar type and can't be honest and accept the fact that his interpretation of what an "Irish" identity is isn't the whole truth.

More telling is this drivel: "you should visit your brethern in the capital now and then and see what a moderate bunch we are...not the rabid republicans you dream about.

~Me thinks you spend too much time in your 6 counties listening to the propoganda spewed out daily by your government DUP + Sinn Fein.."

Delusion at it's best. I have met hundreds of people from the south in my travels and often discussed politics etc. with them. When in comes to politics I have a lot more respect for northern Republicans than I do for southerners piously lecturing us how "moderate" and more civilised they are by comparison - that is because Northern Republicans are much more HONEST (and when were talking about Sinn Fein and Gerry "not in the IRA" that is saying something!). The problem with southerners is that they (deludedly) THINK that they are being "moderate", and many of them genuinely believe it, but they really cannot see their own bias. Many southerners are proud to be from the Republic and wave the flag of the Republic - the problem from many of these southern hypocrites is that they view anyone in the majority in Northern Ireland who are proud to be Northern Irish or British as must be being some sort of "rabid Loyalist" (even though it's simply being proud of where you're from). The only way that many of these southern hypocrites view any Unionist from Northern Ireland as being "moderate" is if they only acknowledge any Irish aspect to identity (particularly a very narrow version of an Irish identity) and abandon all others. It's no different to a Spanish person telling a Portuguese person that they aren't "moderate" unless they swear prime loyalty to Iberia and Spain and stand proud under the Spanish flag.

ireniall 5 years ago

For God sake Paul-I dont see any of that in Padraigs posts.Also if you're going to criticise people in the kind of language you use it would be better to establish your credibility in advance by showing that you realise that your own side hasn't been perfect either.After all,right around when De Valera was in power a Prime Minister of Northern Ireland said he 'wouldn't have Catholics about the place'.Obviously not an intellectual giant and ,I hope, not a typical product of the system.Of course we can all see the other guys bias-our own ones are the very ones we dont see or we probably wouldn't have them in the first place.

Of course a common feature of people who are lucky enough to live in a peaceful country is that they become complacent and have a lack of polarisation about their political views.As a result they are often woolly and uncertain and can sometimes unthinkingly trot out stuff that will annoy someone who knows whats going on.Ok-hardly a hanging offence.There is ,I'll grant you,something very unequivical about looking up the wrong end of an IRA gunbarrel.If you enjoy the honesty of this Paul then it's obvious you people up there are made of sterner stuff than us.

Finally Paul your desciption of yourself as a rather liberal Unionist reminds me of the joke that was going around some years ago about what the definition of a moderate Repulican was-a guy with only one gun

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Padraig 5 years ago

Paul, I am glad to see you embracing the Northern least you know where you stand eh?.It must be very annoying and confusing to say the least to hear a moderate republican view point...enough to make one see red....even worse someone from the must be like drinking watered down beer.

Lighten up, enough with the insults about us makes you look like youve never got out of the 6 counties..... Spend some time abroad...and I don't mean the Isle of Man.

Did you see McElroy's tweet on The Queen laying a wreath at Croke Park (to the English rugby team) that is funny! now that's northern humor.

~Speaking of which, you should come down to Dublin and watch Ireland (Ulster boys in tow) putting Australia to the sword in the Rugby World Cup.I will understand if you only follow Norden Iron footie though.

Dave 5 years ago

Paul is correct. This seems more like a Southern Irish "identity crisis" to me. After decades of believing that they were merely "Irish" and there country is merely "Ireland" some southerners may be waking up to the fact that this isn't the whole truth. In NI the average person who says that they're both British and Northern IRISH (a la British and Welsh etc) is more honest than a Southern Irish person simply claiming to be Irish, not Southern Irish (as I've often witnessed too).

The hundreds of posts here raving on in outrage that someone from the other side of an international boundary doesn't have exactly the same narrowly defined version of Irish identity as them reeks of insecurity about their own identity. Essentially saying "HOW DARE someone from another sovereign state not have the same identity as us? The word Irish means what we say it is".

Only when both northern and southern identities are acknowledged and respected can a simple and inclusive Irish identity be more cherished. As the saying goes "good fences make good neighbours". Unfortunately southerners want to shove their southern anthem and southern tricolour as apparently being inclusive, while deriding the inclusive symbols as being "mickey mouse flag with a mickey mouse anthem" (as the author has done here).

Dave 5 years ago

The original question posed of "why would he agree to play for Ireland under the tricoulour?" should be more accurately phrased "Why is the all-Ireland Golfing Union flying a Tricolour in the first place?"

Indeed it is a fair point that sports which represent both north and south that the team needs to be more clear what it is. As far as I'm aware the golfing team is not an RoI team so shouldn't be under the tricolour.

OTOH, the RoI Olympic team is a RoI team and it should be clearer that it is as such.

I think the one thing that could be done to clear up such messes is for the 26 county Republic to officially stop calling itself "Ireland". THIS is the primary source of all the ambiguity, and it pisses off both Northern Unionists and Nationalists alike.

ireniall 5 years ago

Dave -you make some pretty good points there-of course all-Ireland teams should have a flag reflecting both traditions.In the golf there is effectively a two team situation whereby the golf union administers two teams for the main competitions and one team under the tricolour for the lesser ones .The sheer strength of is giving them more than a fair shake but the flag issue should be sorted out anyway.Its fair to say Dave that the Ulster banner is the flag of loyalty for a small majority of N.I.-the tricolour has the loyalty of a large minority in N.I. and RoI

There's no flag there for both sides and the issue that is going to arise in fixing this is this-is there going to be an agreed flag for N.I. or all-Ireland.Dave which one do you want.Is there any way that when next you are talking to your Welsh friend you could say you were Irish and British instead of Northern Irish and British

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Padraig 5 years ago

Neither Ireland or Ireland exist as countries today. The ROI Constitution laid claim to the 6 counties until 15 years ago.So by Irish law people were 100% correct in saying they were from Ireland. The absolute majority in the ROI voted to remove that claim to the 6 counties after the first agreement. I, just like anybody from the 6 counties can be called Irish if they so desire. I am from technically the ROI which we generalize as from Ireland because that is almost the whole Island...that is not going to change. Both sides of the community in the North/NI. can say the same if they so wish.

Agree Dave it is not fair to have the Tri color as the only flag for all ireland sports like golf and rugby. Rather than compromising both traditions and having some half baked watered down flag we should use both flags that represent both sides today. I not sure if most in the ROI will ever agree to singing a Northern Irish anthem that would ever include God Save The Queen or the Union Jack however so we may have a catch 22 here.

~Dave, In rugby and golf you and I can continue to say Ireland as these are all Ireland sports....;However football and other representations should be fairness to WCup Football ROI is what is mostly represented in the media.

ireniall 5 years ago

@ Padraig-hi Padraig-I find it interesting that as a moderate person you would prefer to keep both flags rather than invent a new flag which would represent both sides.While this is fair I fear that it wouldn't solve the problem we are having.

My thinking on the subject is that the tricolour suits us fine down south here but up north only about 40% have a loyalty to it and this 40% know that the other 60% find it unacceptable.The Unionist majority want to rid N.I.of the open hostility of the 'Irish' up there and given that their own Ulster banner is not very old and is in any case unnacceptable to the Taigs,they are,in my opinion, quite open to the idea of a new flag.This isn't some minor issue for academics in their ivory towers -there are a few websites out there where this is being discussed in some serious manner and there have been unofficial attempts to introduce one which were abandoned,presumably because of lack of agreement.

It seems clear to me that Northern Catholics at this stage ,want to make N.I. work as a state,they are happier and feel at home there now,they have parity of esteem,in polls one third of them declared themselves as Northern Irish rather than Irish so sooner rather than later the Unionist side are going to broach the subject of a new agreed flag and the northern catholics ,who still want an all Irish flag willcome south here to us and say 'The Prods want to agree a flag with us but they're not having the tricolour-will yee agree to a new flag that we can all agree on'.If we say no those Catholics will go back up north and agree a flag for N.I. alone and they will be right.If that happens we can all forget about whether Rory and the others are Irish or not -they will be Northern Irish and nothing else.Basically if we want any kind of all - island dimension to our sporting and cultural affairs we better be ready with some other answer other than no when those northerners come calling.-This is my thinking anyway and I dont think it will work out any better if we just let it slide and hope it goes away

Lorcan 5 years ago

Those blaming the situation on the English solely are pretty far off the mark;

While we can look at the Normans, Cromwell and the Plantations as the source of the problems in Northern Ireland, the reality is that de Valera did as much to hamper attempts at unity between the north and the south as any other figure in Irish history. By creating a strictly Catholic state, he alienated Protestants in the North at a time when he should have looked to create an inclusive state in which Protestants would be treated with as much respect as Catholics, at a time when the Irish Free State was still a British dominion, with the King as head of state.

The key question, then, is to ask WHY Unionists in Northern Ireland would prefer to be part of a union with England, despite their cultural proximity being more in line to the south. Is it for pride, for heritage? Surely those Unionists in the north who give equal identification to being 'Irish' as 'British' would value a link with the south? Seeing as the Queen serves purely as a representative role, what sense does it make to ally your whole nation's identity behind a lovely, yet essentially useless, old lady?

As well as this, why identify with being British, a title few outside Northern Ireland would put as their principal nationality. Living in London, I've never once heard anyone refer to themself as British, and from my visits to Scotland, the few who would tend to hang around Ibrox on a Saturday afternoon.

So,my point is, why would Northern Ireland want to part of an ailing and out-dated union, one which will in the next 20 years be without Scotland? Surely the prospect of a union with the South, who would treat the Northern Irish with respect rather than the disdain the English do as a drain on public funds, with spending more than 20% higher on the average person in NI compared to England under the Barnett formula, (where at one point during the Troubles 80% of England favoured Unification) would be more favourable?

And if not that, at least an independent Northern Irish state? that would be a compromise which would at least appeal to disaffected nationalists.

In reality, the only reason I can see for Northern Ireland wanting to remain part of the Union is economic (who can blame them with Ireland in the gutter), or historical, which would come as a bit ironic given the protestations of many for the Irish to forget the British crimes of the past...

And in relation to McIlroy, which has long ceased to be the subject of this article, he can use whatever flag he wants. If that pisses Republicans off, so be it. In this world of free speech we live in, we have to respect the beliefs of others without enacting prejudices on them for those views.

deno 5 years ago

back to basics.northern ireland is extremely proud to be the golf capital of the world and all the detractors should get over it and stop using sectarian arguments to take away from the wonderful achievements of gmac rory and darren and ive a feeling there are many more to come so no more sour grapes please

kittyryan 5 years ago

Hey! I'm back - down but not out. I wholeheartedly agree with you deno 100% although this hub has been so enjoyable and a fascinating read. Lorcan I think you are mixed up. A 'Protestant Parliament for a Protestant State' is a term attributed to political institutions in NI between 1921 and 1972. Devalera founded Fianna Fail in 1926 but was not head of Government until 1932. My point being - if he did boast of a Catholic State it was to counteract the Unionist sectarian assertions and all part of the argy bargy. He definitely wasn't the instigator of this line of triumphalism.

And yes, we haven't heard anything much about Rory lately other than where his testosterone is leading him. Has he played anymore major tournaments lately? We don't get much news about him down here.

kittyryan 5 years ago

Lorcan - I meant to comment on "the independent Northern Irish State' suggestion of yours - I thought that was what they had and it didn't work. What do you mean? Isn't that what the past 40 odd years of misery has been about?

deno 5 years ago

kittyryan you must not read the sports pages.rory has just played the european masters and the klm open over the past 2 weekends.there was a top field of players in both evnts and he came third in both moving him to a career high third in the world golf rankings.he hasnt gone away ya know..not only northern ireland should be proud of him but all of ireland.i would hope that all the good people in the republic get behind him as we do in northern ireland and just enjoy the best and most exiting and naturally talented player in the world show the americans how its done..

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Padraig 5 years ago

Hi IreNiall, While I may be moderate I am still patriotic and a nationalist through and through.We definitely have a dilemma here with flags that represent an all Ireland sport like Golf and Rugby. While the Tri Colour may be abhorrent to most Unionists removing it is really not a possibility as the ROI is a legitimate State just like France. It would be like Britain being asked to remove the Union Jack. It would be paramount to having a sex change for most people from the ROI :). For all Ireland(Island) sports I believe a new Northern Ireland Flag acceptable to both communities should be introduced.....that way if you are from the ROI you can pick the Tri Colour and if you are from NI you can select your flag(which represents both communities). Again this is for the people of NI and not something that should be imposed from the south. The Union Jack encompasses the three countries which have their seperate flags so this may be something to look at....the only problem is the Tri Colour as you mentioned definitely does not encompass ROI & NI....any suggestions from people who live in NI/The North?

kittyryan 5 years ago

Hi Deno

I contributed to this blog months ago and you will see that I am from NI and proud, very proud of the achievements of all our golfers from such a small place. I live in Australia and we are stuffed to the gills here with Aussie sports people. If Rory were to get a mention it would only be if he was in a field with Aussie golfers! I don't have Foxtel etc so am not wholly up to date with European golf but thanks for the news.

deno 5 years ago

sorry kittyryan.did not realise you didnt get all the golf news great that you still feel proud of our boys achievements and we can look forward to many more to come.however it would be nice if they were allowed to identify themselves with the flag or nationality of the country they are affiliated to without having to feel the need to explain themselves .there are many cases where sports stars in boxing etc from ni identify with the tricolour with the shorts they wear and flags they display and still expect and generally get the support of the country. and padraig you are dead right right the flag of the roi in no way represents ni as a state and the ni flag dos not represent the it is what it is and until this changes..if ever..our golfers etc will be free to choose what they feel is the flag of the country they were born in. ni is still part of the the uk as has been firmly established again in the good friday agreement and it would be very difficult to design a new flag for ni that had any recognition of our uk link without offending in the meantime i would suggest we make the best of what we have and show our respect for each others culture and nationality and give support to all our sports men and women regardless of what flag they choose.

ireniall 5 years ago

Hi Padraig

I'm laughing at your sex change analogy for dumping the tricolour-glad to hear you're secure in your sexual orientation.I fully admit that if I could get the 'Irish' to do what I wanted I would support a yellow flag with pink spots,however,I dont think it's a likely outcome so we're all safe from that distasteful eventuality.

Its very clear you are a patriotic man as everyone contributing to this discussion is or we wouldn't be here thinking about this stuff.On the question of identity I believe that the British form of it really equates to Scandinavia or Iberia -allright with a bit more oomph.It is for this reason that I support the notion of the 'British Isles' as a geographical region with very strong cultural ties going back into antiquity.To be a Celt is therefore a very British thing as we are found nowhere else except these islands or areas settled by us.In the 19th century I believe Cardinal Newman wanted them called 'the Western Isles' but this hasn't taken hold so we're stuck with 'British' which doesn't put me off in the slightest but upsets some people.Again ,like the flag, if they were called 'the Ar**hole Iles' I wouldn't care so long as it was a uniting rather than a dividing force. I have no interest whatsoever in what the 'Brits' did to us in the past-you might as well talk about what stone-age people did to each other-we would have done the same to them if we had been lucky enough to have been united by the Romans first

What I'm concerned with here above all is finding common ground with our brothers in the wee north and to do this we have to row back a bit on the seperatist stuff down here.That is why De Valera was, in fact, against our leaving the Commonwealth.We cant promote any real unity on this island unless we accept some kind of British identity and,likewise, Unionism cannot promote unity in N.I. without accepting an all-Ireland dimension-or so you would expect.

Instead I get this feeling that the SF element couldn't be arsed about anything which falls short of a united Ireland,the SDLP sector are happy to refer to themselves as Northern Irish and the Protestants range from being British-Irish to being virulently anti-Irish,but in general when they use the words Northern Irish they mean not Irish. In the south here we can do something to include the British-Irish but by definition the name Northern Irish excludes us, yet it is viewed in Nationalist circles as a compromise term. We are prodding the Prods into being N.Irish instead of British when in fact if we accept their Britishness it might allow them to be Irish

You know-it's great to have such trifling concerns and its probably an indication of not having a life-or enough real problems but in any case it's great that no one is fighting over it any more- but I will say one thing-if you northern people are setting up your own country up there-tell us-we can wave our tricolours and accept that we are different countries not just different states,we can be good neighbours-We can move away from the embarrassing habit of claiming Northern Irish people as our own

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MattyBalmer 5 years ago from Ireland

It all depends on what you believe in. I live in the north of Ireland and I am a republican who accepts my flag to be the green, white and gold of the tri-colour and I guess that's why Catholics from the north play for the republic because they play under their flag. Also a catholic playing for northern Ireland has to play to songs from their own supporters against their religion and beliefs. And listen to what they believe to be a foreign anthem.

ireniall 5 years ago

Hi Matty-we both know we are Irish Matty but we are in a quite different situations.I live in a state where Irishness is not challenged- you live in one where over 50% have fallen back on the British identity which is not a nationality in itself.To be British you must be English,Welsh,Scottish or Irish but they wont embrace being Irish because of where we have brought it among other things

It is interesting to watch them even here on this site.They are itching to have a go at us here in the south but they wont say boo to you lot because they know they must share Northern Ireland with you all.With regard to the Catholic players declaring for RoI ,rather than the team, which you refer to-they are more or less saying to us-'those are our taigs not yours'.Obviously there's a funny side to this but also a serious one.They want to build a decent little place with you where all your children can live in peace.In doing this it is clear that neither side is going to get all its own way.

To my way of thinking the Catholics in N.I. must respond generously to this while simultaneously insisting on strong ties with the south but also prodding the south into moving closer politically to the north.To me this means getting the south to rejoin the Commonwealth.This might have the effect of bringing us closer to the Ulster Protestants but it would certainly just as much, bring us closer to Ulster Catholics

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Padraig 5 years ago

Did anyone see Our All Island(Ireland) Rugby Team smash the Australian Rugby Team over the weekend in the Rugby World Cup? Best and Ferris had a fantastic game, although Ferris may end up being sited for dwarf throwing...He picked up their scrum half with the ball and ran half way down the was hilarious!

It was great to see the team gel 100% Munster, Leinster and was stunning.

I just wish more people could play the game (more Catholics North of the border and become seen as a less elitest sport south of the border). Their were two flags present when they sang "Shoulder to shoulder" The Tri Colour and a Yellow Flag with the Red hand of Ulster and red cross..I presume St. Georges??...this confused me as I thought the NI flag(or flag used) was white with red cross and red hand of Ulster??

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MattyBalmer 5 years ago from Ireland

Padraig, the white flag you are referring to is the unofficial flag of Northern Ireland. The yellow one is the official flag of ulster. That displayed with the tri-colour shows that the protestants that are ulster supporters who do not support the tri-colour are not being forgotten in the world cup as they are there to support their country and the addition of the ulster flag makes them feel more welcomed to the national rugby team.

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Padraig 5 years ago

Matty, I presume the yellow flag of Ulster would be more endearing to Catholics and not Protestants from NI/The North in the context above as it is the official flag of the 9 counties and not the 6?? Hence the need for an official flag of Ulster that represents both communities. We could have a flag that has Orange to represent Protestants and Green for Catholics and white for peace...Oh that's right we tried that already..just kidding everyone:)

On a serious note how about one compromise on both sides from the current....yellow(Ulster Provincial color) instead of white, keep the Red Hand(No change O'Neill Emblem) and use the St. Patrick's Cross(X in the Union Jack) instead of the Regular red Cross (Burke's Family Cross)??

It would be easy to say "have Catholics use the Tri Color and Protestants use the White Unofficial flag of N.I." but that is the exact dilemma that both communities have in NI....especially Rory McIlroy who is in a win/lose situation when he picks the white flag but is Catholic (He shouldn't be forced to pick).

ireniall 5 years ago

The win against Australia was magnificent-when have the Ulster boys ever let us down- going back to Jack Kyle,McBride,Gibson-the list is endless.Ferris has been a monster since his return-Bests offloading and scrummaging just superb

In the warm up to the last rwc there was a game played against Italy in Ravenhill 'cos the Aviva wasn't ready.I dont think 'twas even reported in the south-an example of how we are slowly drifting apart-Unionist politicians called for GSTQ to be played and the Union flag to fly just as the Tricolour and Soldiers Song(which has to be at least as much of a dirge as the much derided Irelands Call)is played in Dublin.

The IRFU refused-I gather on the grounds that since the stadium is outside the RoI it is deemed to be away so just Irelands Call and the IRFU flag was flown. This is an insult to those guys I mentioned above.Trevor Ringland, who,typically, has attacked the UUP leaders statement that he wouldn't attend a GAA match,was very critical and it is fellows like him who carry moral clout on these issues.The Ulster Branch were fully behind the decision however-no doubt in the hope of attracting Catholics to the cause among other things.

As an exercise I often try to assess ,in my own head,how valuable the Irish rugby team is to us.Could a price be put on it-a cross border,cross community team which is a force at world level? And we let this sort of damaging thing happen.If we had an agreed flag this kind of thing would be put to bed for good

On a different thread-I have ,like most southerners now ,friends who've moved to Aus.One of them is working with a group of Tongans at the moment.When Ireland walloped Australia last Saturday one of them gave him 50 dollars for his Ireland jersey so he could go around sticking to the Aussies--magic

deno 5 years ago

just get over it and accept that..surprise surprise..rory chooses to display the flag of his country.. simple as i would suggest all the detractors go and find another issue to argue over and let rory and co get on with bringing yet more glory to his place of birth northern ireland

ireniall 5 years ago

Deno ??????-we know he's from N.I.

deno 5 years ago

you would not think so. glad this debate seems to be settled then .

Steve 5 years ago

Another perspective.

I am English, i have lived here for 17 years have 6 Irish children.

I love Ireland and cheer on the Irish team over the English at any sport, rugby, soccer and of course golf.

My kids love Rory, Graham, Padraig, Michael Hoey, Paul McGinley, Shane Lowry and Arthur Pierse (most capped Irish amateur and former Walker cup player), they are golf mad and as far as the are concerned the afformentioned are ALL Irish. They don't remember the black and tans or the bombings in Oxford Street at Christmas .

My faith in humanity mandates that I am not alone in my view that all of that crap got us all nowhere.

Maybe it is time for a new flag that speaks to the inevitable and united essential Irishness that binds us all together.

Well done the Irish team at the world cup. And to the rest of the planet, get used to us being there or there abouts.

kittyryan 5 years ago

Hear, hear Steve.

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Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

Wow..iv just read 14 months of some very diverse mindsets on this blog, both interesting and sometimes disturbing. I tought id give my opinion as im both staunchly Protestant and Republican.I for one believe ultimitly that Rory has every right to itentify himself as a British Catholic just as Wolftone, Emmett, Childers, Wilde, Butt, Yates,and Sam Mc Guire to name but a few were immensly proud just as I, to be Irish Protestants.But i cannot and will not accept that the National Flag should be changed just to appease certain people and to further politicial correctness, Steve this may sound harsh but i feel that as you are English you could never understand the full meaning of the tri-colour, it is intertwined with our very identidy, it was formed in 1848 as a flag of peace between our traditions, green for ireland orange for britan and white for peace, let me also tell you that no matter what colour flag you have, if someone does not feel Irish no flag in the world could change the persons mind. I come from a proud Methodist family in the south and i have family up north but other than religion we have very little in common because they, like many others of a similer mindset(not all), would never ever accept any form of Irishness no matter what colour flag, and i absolutly accept this as I equally will never accept a union jack as my flag of homage.unfortunatly many unionists would see Rory's alligence as a scource for verbaly scourging their inferior Papist neighbours, as equally us Irish would feel the same if it were the other way around. finaly I would like to wish Rory all the best for the future but as an Irishman ill just shout for our own golfers and also a very mature greame mc who just left the issue alone. Godbless all

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Padraig 5 years ago

Mr. Wesley, I whole heartedly agree! Refreshhing to say the least.No point in throwing the baby out with the bath water when it comes to the Tri-colour or any other nations flag for that matter.

I suppose the bigger question on flags is what of N.I./The North. What is your point of view here to encompass both traditions? I am still maintaining the Tri-colour for R.O.I. and The Union Jack for GB but what of this Entity in the middle? It would be great to be as mature as GMAC but probably not realistic for most sports persons forced to decide.

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Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

Look Padraig you know all too well as do most informed people that read these blogs, it is far more than an entity or even ones inentity when it comes to the six counties, its a state of mind and no, and i mean NO flag what ever colour will ever be favoured by the majority of both groups in the North. They have been and will be for many years to come, absolutly and fundemently opposed to each others view points on every level including sport that they will never reach common ground on issues of sport. Each group elevates individuals of their persuasion and make idols of them as defenders of their tradition, Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor, George Best and Neil Lennon, and now people are scrapping over a brilliant golfer Rory Mc, this is an issue that will continue unless we as a nation mature and allow grace to interviene so we can accept each others failings. When i was young the family went to our cousins in Armagh on holidays and my brothers and i took our hurls with us, when we got there we were told that if we took our hurls out to play, they would be taken from us and broken as it represented fenian supression of our way of life, i hated my auty for years after, but i also understand (in a sick proddy way) where they were coming from, people of my religion in the north have been and never will be accepted in sports like GAA, unlike Irish prods so they inentify with there own values and Rory is an extention of that as he is the epitomy of what they wanted Catholics to be in the first place, British.But take it from me Padraig and i can say this as a protestant, He will never be accepted 100% by unionists because deep down he is still a Catholic. He should have kept his mouth shut on this issue as i fear now it will gather pace come the olympics when he will have to make a decision that will anger one section and arouse the other to slanderous stupidity. Godbless

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Padraig 5 years ago

Yes, well said Wesley! really is a state of mind not just an entity. Your cross border roots truly give you a good insight.

~The irony is I like your protestant brethern was denied any access to the GAA simply by the fact that I lived in Dublin where almost 100% of Catholic schools refuse to play the GAA.Having said that I do love my Rugby which is a much bigger all Ireland sport than Golf currently and may be a way to bring both sides together. Munster and Leinster have won 4 out of the last 6 European Titles and Ulster started us all off by winning the first.

I know the obvious statement here is that playing rugby is out of the question for most Catholics north of the border because of th natural resistance inside and outside their community.....but all I can say is when they see huge GAA strongholds like Munster dominating at rugby it must make for some scrathing of the heads.

~I have never wandered North of the border in the past because of my name, accent and moderate views which precluded me from any welcome on either side but now I feel things are changing and may be I can venture a visit to Ravenhill to see my Leinster play the "Ulster Boys". Cheers Padraig

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Padraig 5 years ago

Yes, well said Wesley! really is a state of mind not just an entity. Your cross border roots truly give you a good insight.

~The irony is I like your protestant brethern was denied any access to the GAA simply by the fact that I lived in Dublin where almost 100% of Catholic schools refuse to play the GAA.Having said that I do love my Rugby which is a much bigger all Ireland sport than Golf currently and may be a way to bring both sides together. Munster and Leinster have won 4 out of the last 6 European Titles and Ulster started us all off by winning the first.

I know the obvious statement here is that playing rugby is out of the question for most Catholics north of the border because of th natural resistance inside and outside their community.....but all I can say is when they see huge GAA strongholds like Munster dominating at rugby it must make for some scrathing of the heads.

~I have never wandered North of the border in the past because of my name, accent and moderate views which precluded me from any welcome on either side but now I feel things are changing and may be I can venture a visit to Ravenhill to see my Leinster play the "Ulster Boys". Cheers Padraig

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Wolftone Wesley 5 years ago

Padraig i know that this is not an issue for you and most Catholics but to Protestants of all view points, if they were to play hurling and gealic accross the border and beleive me, there are a small persentage that actually like the game up there, the would have to join a club that would most probably named after a catholic saint and for anybody who knows the Bible would understand that us prods see this as sacreligious as the Bible teaches us that anyone and i mean anyone that follows christ with a good heart is in Gods eyes also a saint probably even you padraig, secondly it was only lately that psni officers could play G.A.A. Thirdly whether we like it in the south or not , the national anthem is a massivly provoctive block between the two traditions. listen lads, how would we feel if we were rugby players and free Irish men havein to be ridiculed by God save the queen each time we took to the field, we including I would be savagly discusted, so please open your hearts of once for rory best(one of your best players)andrew trimble, and paddy wallace, ton court and stephen ferrise as far as i know are r/c, and there are now 5 catholics on the ulster team, all middle class like rory mc. as i said padraig, im a proud Irish protestant (also many more) from republic of Ireland and in the view of john swift burn everything except its coal. but just as you are my brother, through religion(nothing else)their also my brethern and i wish them all the best in their support of rory best, but the sad missconception is when best and mcdowel play the various opens next year most of us will shout for them, but ironicaly our friends in the north will be for the next 6 months buying croatian, spanish and italain this padraig is called true biggotry....a saddened Irish prodestant....I Wonder would Jesus advocate such hate(LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AND ALSO YOUR ENEMY

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Smicker81 5 years ago

I think it is plain and simple. You can be a Protestant in northern Ireland and be Irish and wish for Irish sports representatives to do well and support them whether they are from north or south. I am a protestant and will be cheering on the republic in the euro football championships and not England etc. I am Irish whether people in the republic do not like this is their beef. The flag issue is a hot potato and I think that it could have been handled better. But that was mcilroy's decision.

ireniall 5 years ago

@ smicker-there's no chance that anyone in the south would have a problem with your calling yourself Irish-sure thats what we want above all else I would say-I've enjoyed catching up with all the comments in here-I think there's great hope for the future and now I have to shout against Ulster in Thomond-sorry Smicker cross-community relations will have to be suspended for that couple of hours and I'm afraid it's a year too early for Ulster imo.Munster to win by 10

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Padraig 5 years ago

@ireniall- I am not sure it is a given for Munster this time around. If Ulster play the same way they did against Leicester two weekends ago all bets are off; However if Munster play the same way they did against Northampton this weekend nobody stands a chance.Either ways Leinster to do a job on the winner. My Dad's from Ulster, Mom's from Munster but I grew up 200 yrds from Leinster's home ground....its all good I follow the three religiously.

Chris 4 years ago

The tri-colour as a flag and a symbol for the whole country of Ireland (north and south) in my eyes is a perfect representation for all people on the island whether they are protestant or Catholicc or whatever.

This is because the green and orange segment represent both nationalist and unionist communities. Alot people don't realise this........

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Padraig 4 years ago

@ Chris, are you kidding? Have you read the 500 proceeding blogs? It is this simplistic onesided view that misses the point completely. Of course the orange in the tri color is meant to represent the protestant perspective but the Tri color itself if you had bothered to read any of the proceeding is seen by Northern Protestants as the most extreme representation of the Catholic tradition in Northern Ireland/The North. It would be like saying to people from the R.O.I to accept the Union Jack as our flag because it has the St. Patrick's Cross (The Red X)in it. You cannot gloss over either side in N.I. and mandate either flag......The people of N.I. will decide which flag they want in the distant future. It will probably look like something that embodies both traditions or both sides may decide to stick with what they feel represents them best today.

~I am delighted to see Rory Best of Ulster as the Captain of the Ireland rugby team this weekend. Do us proud against a big Scots team. Padraig.

irishrob 4 years ago

Im a British born Irishman still living in England but 100%Irish as its my choice.Now why am i not surprised to see that Irish sporting debates always revert bavk to religion!Infact any debate i see always ends with religion.I would love to have a United Ireland however 2 countries into 1 doesnt go.Plus lets be honest the Republic couldnt afford to run the North!Lets get back to sport.Correct me if im wrong no matter what i or any Irishman thinks,Northern Ireland is a country.As far as im concerned religion or not he can wave the commonly recognised Northern Ireland flag,as a Catholic or Prodestant.Fact of the matter is,if he had waved a British flag in triumph then we could and should be having this debate.I too am a.huge Ireland rugby fan &if a player from the North scored a winning try id celebrate with the same vigour,eapecially against England!

Wolftone Wesley 4 years ago

Dear Irishbob, with the greatest respect you seem to have our information slightly wrong on a couple of points=the north of the island is not an internationaly recognised indedendant country it is a joint sharing region due to the good friday aggreement, secondly of course its about religion as since the reformation of the 16th century reformation it has always been about religion and supremesy, and neither flag at the present time will ever encaptulate both divides, it is not a country on two points. 1=its part of the uk.2=there are over 750,000 holders of an Irish passport which by definition makes most of them Irish. if it were indipendant then james mcclean, marc wilson, darron duffy, and darren gibson could not represent the republic at football. secondly the flag issue that chris brought up is a nonstarter, as an irish prod i love my tricolour but the dream that the young irelanders had in 1848 in the village of the commons co tipperary when both catholics and prodestants inaugarated it as a flag of peace as ben both hijacked and bastardised by the shinners who through their own sick agenda have made what was supposed to be a flag of unity into a flag of division and hate by my co-religious(the similarities stop there)in the north for good reason. brothers it will take over two generations for this mess to be solved, untill thenirish will call rory a traitor, and thr loyalists will keep sending mcclean wilson duffy gibson, lennon bullets in the post, all we can do is pray for the biggots on boty sides, congrats rory on his world number one, class act, but ill always have mcdowel as my number . godbless you all

Jimbo 4 years ago

I don't understand where the nationalist idea that the uk doesn't care about northern Ireland comes from. That may have been the case for certain uk governments (Wilson, thatcher etc.) but after suffering the bombing campaigns for 30 year we feel a great solidarity with norn iron.

The west of Scotland particularly identifies with Ireland generally (whether unionist or republican). If you want to see why football and religion shouldn't mix, get to the old firm.

The England national team, Chelsea and rangers all sing anti-ira songs and pro-unionist songs which, although often offensive, are a reflection of their determination to keep the uk together.

Ironically I think that England cared little for northern Ireland throughout the mid 20th century but the sheer horror of the terrorist actions on the mainland and Ireland has made people in the uk determined to 'not surrender'.

lee 4 years ago

im nw london born , belfast father, mothers family southern british and irish from c cork during the famine ......peace.......///brit-paddy crossbreed i laughed

Tombo 4 years ago

I'm from Cork, my wife from Northern Ireland, my kids were born in Derry and we live in Tyrone.

Ye are all mad.

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fcbman 4 years ago

Hi all. Just found this site and find it very interesting. I would like to contribute from the perspective of a northern born Irish national…who I think get a raw deal on several fronts. What about us?

The one dimensional presentation of all who live in the north, particularly by local (northern and southern) media, is extremely and increasingly frustrating. Northerners en masse are presented to the world as British and received and regarded by those in Britain and Europe, as British. The Ulster Banner/Union Jack are presented and displayed as the flag(s) for ‘our country’. Many (but by no means all) in southern Ireland have difficulty (or simply refuse to) accept that almost 40% of northerners are ‘as Irish as they are’. Many indeed reject us as even being Irish at all.

NI might be technically part of the UK and those who profess to be British, Rory McIllroy included have every right to do so and that must be respected. The Ulster Banner/Union Jack however only represents one aspect of nationality in the north and people can if they wish, irrespective of their religion, choose that as a flag to represent them. If they do they are declaring their nationality. However whether we like it or not it has to be accepted that the north of Ireland in the sense of 'nationality' is a divided society. Around 40% of the population do not accept the British identity or the north as ‘their country’ (which doesn’t mean they dislike those who do) yet they are continually being told who/what they are and presented as something that they are/are not.

The history of the Irish tricolour needs addressed here to explain why northern born Irish nationals accept it and nothing else as their national flag. The Irish tricolour long pre-dates Irish partition. It was first introduced in 1848 by Thomas Francis Meagher based on the symbolism of the flag of the French Republic. It represents the cultural, political and historical affiliations of about 80% of the people who live in and have always lived in Ireland. It is the flag of Ireland and not just a PART of Ireland. I live in Ireland not in a PART of Ireland. Because someone drew a line on a map 90 odd years ago and told people in Ireland who or what they were (or were to become) doesn’t mean that’s how it is. Were those who live in the south suddenly deemed to be Irish nationals simply because of partition or have they always regarded themselves as Irish? Were all the people of Ireland, pre-partition, all British? I think not. It is no different for northern born Irish nationals. We feel we have our Irish nationality, citizenship and identity diluted or even denied to us and a Britishness thrust upon us.

The Ulster Banner/Union Jack is used by the NI soccer team and as such does not reflect the cultural identity of 40% of the population. That is why more and more northern born Catholics are choosing to represent the Ireland soccer team and not the NI soccer team. Those who do so incidentally are not ‘switching alliegance’ as is sometimes claimed…. their mindset is that the entire island of Ireland is their country and are therefore representing it….not just the south…but all of it under their national flag.

As for the Ireland Rugby team I support it but I feel that refusing to play the Irish national anthem or flying the national flag outside of the 26 counties - which indeed they failed to do when Ireland played a WC friendly game in my home city of Belfast - is a denial of a public expression of my cultural identity. Although ‘Irelands Call’ is an awful anthem and wouldn’t lose sleep if it were removed then if it has to stay both anthems should be played on all occasions as should the flying of the Irish national flag. What must a first time viewer seeing Ireland Rugby team play in a WC in say NZ think the Ireland flag and national anthem are? Goodness me!!!

The tricolour (or any Irish flag for that matter) belongs to whoever feels allegiance to it and lines on a map are irrelevant. The flag is about national identity. If Rory McIllroy chooses to be represented by British symbolism that is his free choice. I personally would prefer him to represent Ireland….all of it. Ask the Armagh Gaelic footballer Oisin McConville, a multiple All-Ireland football title winner, if he is less Irish than say Brian O'Driscoll, Roy Keane, Sonia O’Sullivan or Stephen Roche. Mary McAleese, Irish President for 14 years was born in my city of Belfast. Is the Irish national flag of the tricolour not her flag too? Christ was born in a stable but that did not make him a horse.

ireniall 4 years ago

@ Padraig-I bow to your superior knowledge of rugby-was at the match -oh well have to eat some humble pie(getting used to the taste)-congrats to Ulster-I hope they reach the final now.

@fcbman-I understand what you're saying but there is no real danger that the south is going to forget that northern Catholics are our own people and all that-there are too many strong ties for that but there's no point in denying that the tricolour is now a source of division and is therefore useless as a uniting symbol.The great beauty of sport is that it can be a very uniting force in a slow and imperceptable way while leaving the really difficult stuff like the constitutional position of NI to one side.To my mind the northern Nationalist attachement to the tricolour will get in the way of the creation of a new flag to represent us all as if you insist you can probably get parity for it alongside the UJ in NI but the default situation will be that all northern sportsmen will represent NI under a seperate flag as an agreed flag will not be available.Of course Unionists will try for a new flag to represent NI alone but they may be persuaded of the merits of an all-Ireland flag as it would surely be plain to them that nationalists dont object to the Ulster Banner because of the colours but because it represents a seperate NI.If they are going to agree an all-Ireland glag then they will insist on your agreeing to a new NI flag also and the best idea I can come up with on that is to use the agreed Ireland flag with a red hand or whatever other symbols were negotiated.Either way I feel the tricolour has no future as the flag of Ireland

Chris 4 years ago

I find it hilarious how much shite has been talked here over flags. Sure isn't that just the problem? God help us when you start talking about Marty McG shaking the Queens hand today! Ha ha.... Who cares what flags they display, what religion they are, what nationality they consider themselves. Can't you just enjoy their sporting acheivements without the need to 'own' them? See... I've depressed myself now at the sheer intransigence of some of the folk on this island.

ireniall 4 years ago

@ Chris-ok we might as well celebrate Usain Bolt or Roger Federer-if you dont own them they dont mean a whole lot to you do they?Sport is partisan-its not for the aesthetics of it like in a circus -it's that these exceptional people represent you in some way-how can they do that if they are flying a different flag.I've been making these arguments on other sites for quite a while now and I've yet to meet even one northern Catholic who agrees with me-I get more support from Unionists even though they are definitely not interested in an all-Ireland flag.So I think there is only one way that this is going-NI will be a separate entity in all sports in which it is possible for small nations to be competitive and will only combine when this is plainly not the case.Fair enough-what harm-its been like that now for 100 years -we'll just have to get used to it and leave it alone.

Brendan 4 years ago

@ fcbman,

I couldn't have said it better,I fully agree with your comment,this whole british/Irish thing does my head in,

last week the british tabloids were even claiming Katie Taylor as british,just been watching bbc news and they said rory is british and wants to play for team GB in the next olympics if golf is admitted,they then said his 'fellow englishman' came in second place, I mean Jes h christ whats up with that?

Rubabdub 4 years ago

I suppose the whole thing really boils down to whether you feel that being Irish AND British is compatible. I don't. some Unionists abviously don't but there are lots of people who see it as a kind of grey area. I'm Irish like Katie taylor, Conlon and Barns are Irish. McDowell and McIlroy are British. They may also think of themselves as Irish but I dont. I dont support British sports people the way I support Irish ones. This Island is divided into two distinct national identities.

DubsforSam 4 years ago

The flag that Rory McIlroy wraps around himself is the flag of a statelet formed contrary to the democratic wishes of the majority of Irish people. "Northern" Ireland was formed under threat of violence from unionists who knew they had the backing of the conservative elements in the British government. As far as I'm concerned it is part of my country that is controlled by a foreign power. Rory McIlroy supports that division and he can go and shit in a hat. I don't care how many majors he wins.

harhors 4 years ago

damned if he does damned if he doesnt

poor rory--what does he do

brought up in n ireland in a catholic family that endured

sectarian problems it must be difficult for his family to see him embracing britain as his home country

i dont think this is what he is doing

i just think he is trying to declare himself irish being brought up in

n ireland and i think that we should all realise the BOTTLE he is showing

by doing this

he is a tremendous golfer and it saddens me today to read it the press

he is think1ng of not competing in olympics in rio

i am scottish catholic brought up in a similar household to his

my great delight was to see celtic win and the republic of ireland

win as opposed to scotland as all my forebearers come from co monaghan

have a great 2013

Johnc733 2 years ago

Im not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back later. Cheers fdecebbcacef

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