I wrote last year on what it means to be labelled a member of the Irish diaspora. I find it a very difficult term to reconcile. By calling me a member of the diaspora you separate me from my family, from my home place and from everything I knew for 30 years of my life. You draw a line in the sand – here we are, there you are.
At the same time the Irish media used and abused the word, in reflection of Irish government practices, to try and win over those of us who, for a myriad of reasons, are living abroad. Those of us, fortunately not me, who left a partner and children behind to find work in another country are warmly labelled and arms are stretched towards them …those same arms which should have been working to keep these people in Ireland in the first place. There are not a lot of things in this world that I hate, but the term diaspora comes very close.
It seems, however, there is a new conversation happening in Ireland. I haven’t been very close to it, because it’s major vehicle are physical events, and I’m not able to make it home so often. However, next Monday, St Patrick’s Day, this conversation will be extended to us, the diaspora, through the televising of a live cultural event – We Need To Talk About Ireland. Interestingly, apart from one or two, the “creative celebration of Ireland’s past, present and future” is not peopled with the usual voices that I’m tired of listening to. A fresh perspective was promised and it seems that’s what’s on offer.
I for one will be tuning into The Trailblazery‘s event on Monday night, (ironically, probably on the Washington Post because RTE Player doesn’t want to work for me…) to see if perhaps we can reclaim that hateful thing, diaspora, and give it a real, honest meaning. Let’s see…