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Trip to London?

Old Apr 10th, 2002, 03:52 PM
  #1  
Kevin
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Trip to London?

I am an American of Irish descent. Although I have been to Europe many times, I have never been to London. One of my sisters lived there for several years, but I never took the time to visit her there. I realize I am resisting visiting London because I have heard about anti-Irish sentiment there. I look very Irish --in fact when I am there in Ireland people consider me a native. (And please do not ask what does Irish-looking mean, because many/most people know right away I am Irish, and no I do not have freckles and red hair and hardly anyone I have seen in Ireland does)

My former boss who now lives there in London(and is not Irish or Irish-looking) is enaged to a woman who is half Irish. The family has a very Irish-sounding last name, and the entire family almost changed it last year. My boss told me that they deny being Irish. She also told me that many people there say that the Irish are "thick." When my parents visisted London several years ago they were thoroughly searched. I know it happens to many people, but I can not help thinking it wa because they look Irish. They were alright with it, but I am not. (although post 9-11 I would understand the ned to do it, though I do not want to be picked out because of my heritage. Yes I know it is less likely with the "Easter Agrement" but still. I do not want to visit a place that would treat me like a second class citizen. Yes, I know there are millions of persons of Irish decent living there,. I have a cousin there, but that, a we know from our own country, does not mean the problem does not exist) I do not want to travel to a place where I will not be treated very well.

Has anyone of Irish descent had any problems? Has anyone had good experiences? I know many of the British people are supposed to be friendly, but I also know that old habits die hard.
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 04:11 PM
  #2  
kier
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I wouldnt want to go there either and have many reasons for not wanting to go. I have held a grudge ever since I read how mistreated Oscar Wilde was by the Brits. I am Irish and Acadian descent. Both sides were horribly treated by the British. The English were so cruel to the Acadians in Nova Scotia. Not only did they deport my ancestors, they burnt their property, and separated families. They actually even took young children and babies from their mothers and scattered us throughout the American colonies and as far as the Falkland Islands. I should call them the Malvinas as to not even acknowledge them as British. Not only were the good people of England responsible for this, the New Englanders were very instumental in the deportation of Acadians in the Maritime provinces of Canada during the 1750's.
I have no desire to go to England on this priciple. I know its history but there are so many other better places to go that why should I bother. I have nothing against English people of today but I cant bring myself to go there.
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 04:16 PM
  #3  
Larry
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Huh?!!

Wow. Strange people here.
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 04:22 PM
  #4  
jb
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Kier -

Are you not aware that people of Irish descent were maltreated in the USA also? And, assuming you are an American, you live here and are not deciding to leave because of it????

There used to be signs in the windows of bars, restaurants, etc. (I believe in Boston) that said "NO DOGS AND NO IRISHMEN" or places of employment that said "IRISH NEED NOT APPLY."

Signed
Half Irish
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 04:40 PM
  #5  
elvira
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And the Cajuns in the US didn't exactly get a good deal, either (All my ancestors are from Ireland and Quebec).

I've visited Canada and England and France and will continue to do so. My only criterion is: is the naughty country working on not doing it again? There isn't one country/ethnic group that hasn't done its share of nastiness in the past; some cretins still are. If the offenders are trying to redress the wrongs, have changed their policies, we can't hold grudges - or we'd all hate everybody everywhere and be forced to live alone in a shuttlecraft.

If you are black, and travel to the U.S., you're probably going to run into a knuckle-dragging idiot who'll be offensive. You can't a whole nation or ethnic group responsible for the jerks.

Or maybe we could put all the jerks on that shuttlecraft...

 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 04:58 PM
  #6  
kier
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I wouldnt say that I hold a grudge, its just that I can't forget how my people were treated. I live in a small French speaking community in Nova Scotia. It is still so engrained in us not to upset "les anglais". Not to speak French too loudly . People of my generation are a little better off now but when my mother was growing up, she was ridiculed for speaking her own language. Speak white they would say to her!!! Please let me remind you that we werent immigrants. My family has spoken French in this area for over 300 years. Even today if there are 25 French speakers in a room in one anglophone, everyone feels they have to speak English.. I say ,hell no. I keep speaking in French. What does this have to do with England? Well plenty. Its a reminder of the suffering that we had to endure for generations. As I mention before, there are better places to go and sunny warm Spain or Italy are two of them.
My father's side is half Irish and half French. I am well aware of what the Irish side had to endure as well.
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 05:00 PM
  #7  
Kevin
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Elvira--well for me, i am not talking about past discrimination agaisnt Irish in England (or US--which was not limited to Boston btw). I am taking about present day perceptions and attitudes/bigotry in England. I trust my boss when she tells me there are negative attitudes held by some. And these are not some quacks or KKK types. My only questionis how widespread is it?
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 05:23 PM
  #8  
Ellen
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My family is Boston Irish, and my daughter DOES have the classic red hair and freckles.

We spent 2 weeks in London last summer and 1 week elsewhere in Britain (Stratford, Wales, Bath, etc.) and never encountered any problems at all. No problems with store clerks, airport security or customs agents, B&B proprietors, strangers on the tube, not anyone. In fact, we were delighted to find that our surname was consistently pronounced correctly, whereas here it rarely is!

Even when we had a conversation with the security guy at Euston Station, when he explained that we couldn't find any trash cans because they'd all been removed as a precaution against terrorists -- even when talking about terrorists (and in Britain they're usually Irish), there was no problem at all.

I don't doubt that there's plenty of anti-Irish bias, but in my experience, it certainly isn't evident to the ordinary tourist.
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 06:19 PM
  #9  
Trixie B
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I just asked my husband about this. He was born in England to Irish parents. He has an English accent, but a name that couldn't be more Irish. Although we live in the States, we travel to England frequently. He says he has never experienced any anti-Irish sentiment and plenty of people would know as soon as they hear/see his name (on his passport or credit card at B&Bs, hotels, etc.). Everyone has always been friendly and welcoming. I wouldn't worry about it, but if you go looking for discrimination, you'll probably "find" it everywhere if you're overly sensitive to the issue. My husband likes to say that Brits are equal opporunity bigots (that will probably raise a few hackles). They call a spade a spade and if that offends you, tough. Travel with a thick skin and a sense of humor and you'll fit in anywhere. Ironically, the one place my husband has experienced anti-Irish sentiment is in our good old midwestern USA town where upon hearing his name, the Better Business Bureau, who was trying to pressure him into becoming a member, told him he should join so he wouldn't be mistaken for "one of those Irish travellers." Give me a break!
 
Old Apr 10th, 2002, 06:46 PM
  #10  
american
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Um, I believe that Oscar Wilde had a problem with the British authorities because (1) he was gay (2) he was in a relationship with the son of the Marquis of Queensbury -who was unhappy about it (3) the Marquis had him tried for breaking the laws at that time regarding homosexual conduct .. what does being Irish have to do with that?
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 12:31 AM
  #11  
irish
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Well, poor Oscar brought his troubles on himself by suing the Marquis of Queensbury for libel. When he lost the case the police had no alternative but to prosecute.
I have lived in England at a time when there were some horrible IRA atrocities. After the Birmingham bombings my mother wanted me to go home because she was afraid that I might be attacked. In fact, I heard of no attacks on Irish people and I think that this reflects very well on the English. Think how arabs in the US have been treated after 11th September.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 03:48 AM
  #12  
Fraser
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I agree with some of the posters here. If you go looking for it you will find it. But remember london and England is one of the most tolerent cities I know. the UK has always prided itself on being a haven for the political persecuted. In london you can hear well over 140 different languges. The most likly danger to the visitor is the expence of visiting and being mugged, and they dont care where you come from!
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 04:45 AM
  #13  
kate
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Thank god there are some voices of reason in this debate! Citing historic grievances for a hatred of the english people is ridiculous – every nation has skeletons in its closet, but it is HISTORY and does not reflect our modern nation.

There, literally, millions of Irish living happily in the UK. I know of no personal resentment towards Irish individuals. Actually, there is more hatred on the part of the irish against the english than the other way round. I live in Kilburn, an area of London with a vast Irish population (locally known as County Kilburn), and I am more likely to suffer racial abuse there than the London Irish.

Yes we dislike the IRA, because they're in the habit of murdering innocent people, but no we don't associate the IRA with normal Irish people. When they have bombed our cities, we have not taken it out on Irish people living in the UK.

We actually like the Irish. We're their neighbours, we know many of them, we work with them, we marry them, we share a guinness together. We and our Irish friends have learnt to separate politics from people. Come here and discover for yourself, have a guinness in one of the hundreds of Irish pubs, and THEN decide whether there is anti-Irish feeling. Don't make assumptions based on hearsay and myth.

Come and experience the reality, or go to Dublin and ask the locals what they think of London. You may be surprised to know that we are much closer than you think.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 05:49 AM
  #14  
Cat
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There has be been Anti_____________(fill in the blank)sentiment since time began in every country on earth. You will mean racist, bigoted people everywhere. I have met some of the warmest folks in my travels. My mom who is Irish, usually travels with me. As soon as she speaks, someone wants to know what county in Ireland she is from and does she know the _______ family? Travel with an open mind and open heart. You'll be fine.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 06:04 AM
  #15  
Dana
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The US has nothing on London when it comes to being the "melting pot". London has been receiving immigrants from all over Europe since Roman times and more recently from Africa and Asia. I don't think you need to worry.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 07:05 AM
  #16  
Dominic
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With an Irish father and a name that could hardly be more Irish if it tried (just a slip away from being the most wanted Irish terrorist of the 1980's) I find some of the remarks posted in this debate beyond laughable - risible indeed.
London is indeed the most cosmopolitain city in the world (New York's not on the same street!)and the Irish community is one of the largest, loudest and most cherished of the lot. Sure 40 years ago there were signs on the pub doors just as there were about blacks and romanies. But the modern world has come on apace since then (Hell, civil rights even came to the Deep South!)and right now I suspect that anti-Irish sentiment is practically non-existent. I have certainly never experienced anything at all and no one I knows has. And remember this in a city which has been periodically blasted by terrorists for the most part of 30 years. Where the danger of being caught up in such activity was a daily one. Kevin.... get on the plane, don't wear a chip on your shoulder and have a great time in arguably the worlds greatest city.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 08:31 AM
  #17  
Mavis
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Without debating all the evils of the ages, my husband (O'Donnell) and I have travelled for 20+ years and have never been treated badly because he was Irish. (I think he also looks Irish - I think it's that mischevious sparkle in his eye.) I must say that a time or two we've been treated extra extra specially nice in Ireland, but not because of the way he looks, but when they found out that he was an O'Donnell.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 08:45 AM
  #18  
What
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Kevin, you are not Irish.

Only in America would anyone think you are Irish, and doesn't that just boggle your mind? An Irish American. Ever heard someone say they were an Irish Englishman ? An Irish German? How about an Irish Belgian? Closer to home, ever heard about an Irish Canadian? (Well, I wouldn't be surprised, but I have never heard that expression.) An Irish Mexican? No, only over here do people say silly things like that.

In London, the British will KNOW you are an American. They really won't care what your ancestry is.

If you don't go, then, in the end, you will not have gone because you had a silly idea in your head. It is YOU who are full of prejudice. Let it go, fly to London, meet the locals, and see how wonderful a time an American can have in London.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 02:04 PM
  #19  
Kevin
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Some of you were not listening--In Dublin I have been assumed to be Irish, an I have been assumed to be Irish by Irish living here in te US. I know I am not Irish-=though I am a citizn of Irelnd as weell as US. Also, I saw very few people in Ireland with red hair.

But thanks for the advice. I believe thats some will be saying negative things behind my back, but I guess maybe some do here. I was just really taken back by what my boss told me.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2002, 03:00 PM
  #20  
Bob
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Kate--the IRA, a small faction, may kill innocent people, but the UK, an entire nation did far worse for generations. They exploited and mistreated the Irish for centuries, lasting well into the 20th century. They strippd the Irish of their language and resources, and tried hard to take away their religion and culture. You would like to ignore all that, saying in essence that HISTORY does not matter. But if it had been your relatives and anscestors who were so abused, you would probably feel differently (unless you were not human, you would feel something about the pain and suffering they went through). I am not in favor of the current IRA or holding grudges, but do not be so callous about the past tyranny of the British. Many nations of the world, including Ireland, are now only beggining to climb out of the shackles imosed by Britain. Other nations are still suffering. And no, not every nation engaged in the type of exploitation that the Brits and other European powers had, or the Americans have here.

As for what you said Kevin, there are people in UK who look down on the Irish. Of course, they will not say it to your face. I have also heard many negative remarks about minorities here in the US. Some, like some of the posters above, will pretend that it doesn't exist, but it does. Just go and hold your head high!

"What really matters"--people in the US are proud of their heritage. Perhaps your anscestors go back far enough that you do not care. But do not try to quash the identity of those that do. Also, I can asure you that a Pakistani or Indian living in London identifies himself differently than the average Brit. They identify with their country of origin (or anscestors origin). And while London has become more diversifid the last few decades,it has not traditionally been as diverse as the US. While it accepts immigrants from many countries--it does so in statistically much smaller proportion than the US has during the past 100 plus years.

 

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