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making a point of not being English — 11 Comments

  1. “…you can’t beat a jab of a compass up the arse.”

    So say the Christian Brothers. Ah happy days of torture and shame.

  2. Grannymar – Just look at a strawberry!

    Manuel – Actually [one of my mother’s favourite words!] I was thinking of doing a post on that very subject 😉

  3. Grandad,

    As an Englishman in an Irish family I’m sometimes still astonished at the teaching of history here! Prods are seen as incidental and not quite fitting in with the great history of Catholic Ireland, as we are all going to hell, I don’t suppose that matters too much.

    What I don’t understand is the complete failure to provide any class analysis of history, the ruling class who exported grain from Ireland in Black ’47 were the same class who treated working people in England in an appalling way. I can’t imagine the Brothers would have been too much into labour history, but surely there were writers of history who could have provided a view of history that wasn’t simply conservative nationalism?

  4. Education in my day was an act of listening. Questioning was not only discouraged but was seen as a challenge to the teacher’s authority.

    That particularly applied to religious teaching, where a question was seen as an act of heresy.

    We were taught a very one-sided view of things, and just had to accept it.

  5. I remember the compass ritual very well. First year in secondary school. Not so happy memories.

    It still fascinates and depresses me at the prejudices that some people still have. My father was Church of Ireland and my mother was Roman Catholic. Still to this day I get people calling me a “proddy dog”. Despite being neither canine nor Protestant.

    When I went to secondary school I had it the other way around. I went to a private school where my father and grandfather had gone. But it was Church of Ireland. Being a christened Catholic now made me a target for a whole new round of prejudices.

    You learn to get over them pretty quickly.

  6. You have my full sympathies.

    I was picked on for
    Being ‘English’
    Being tall
    Being thin
    Having glasses
    Being shy
    Not playing football or rugby

    Happy days 🙂

  7. Ah . . pick on the English thing. As invaders down under we too suffer the historical shame of subjugating our indigenous population. They got back at us though by petrol sniffing and causing a shortage . . . I became so embarrassed about being English so I was naturalised. Didn’t hurt as much as a compass in the bum.

  8. Grandad – you have my full understanding.

    My other half was picked on at school in England for

    Being small
    Wearing glasses
    Being shy
    Having dyslexia
    Possessing two left feet (so was useless at ‘rugger’ and cricket).

    His family moved to Ireland 40 years ago and he’s now singled out for

    Having an English accent
    Being a Protestant
    Looking like Gerry Adams (uncanny eh)

    And after all these years, he still can’t kick a ball to save his life!

    Life can be very cruel at times.

  9. Poor souls, while I sympathise with what you said its a typical English (all about me) scenario. I’m sure life was a bed of roses for Irish Catholics living in England at the times you mention. Even in the 60’s the famous ‘no blacks, no dogs, no irish’ signs were up in public in England so what was it like for Irish people behind closed doors? I get the impression that English history taught in England would have been very even handed and unbiased? I’m guessing it was something like ‘we ruled the world, we are great, some subversive savages had the cheek to stand up to us but we showed them’. Keep telling yourself how hard done by you are because Irish people are a lot more tolerant than English as highlighted by the fact that the Irish government has invited the Queen on a state visit despite the fact that a catholic is forbidden to marry a member of the Royal family.

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