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 Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?

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PostSubject: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyMon Apr 21, 2008 11:51 pm

This is a question which has been pre-occupying me recently. Is Ireland a tribal nation? Do we act as if we're all part of one big extended family? Are we especially clannish wrt other countries and nationalities?

I've been considering this especially as a result of the "Importance of Being Irish" programme on RTÉ recently. I got the impression that, whatever we were, we were a tribe of people living across the world with a shared bond that is far deeper than that which is experienced by similar nations.

We certainly have a tribal history, from the derbfine to the tuathanna. We act in a tribal manner at parish GAA matches, inter-county GAA and inter-provincial rugy and so on.

So, fellow citizens of Machine Nation, is Ireland a tribal nation?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 1:31 am

That's a good question isn't it? There are small regions with very distinctive accents differing from their neighbours' accents only a few miles down the road; across the river they play hurling on a different team to you; the landscapes even of Clare itself are very varied within the county. Do people associate themselves with a geographical corner of the place?

I think there is a big tribal element here but is possibly true of any nation; maybe it's more pronounced here as we're a biggish small island with plenty of diversity but no constant strangers traipsing through like they would have around Europe so there's less interaction with the wider world: the invaders just come here and rape our monks and rule everyone for hundreds of years then turn into us. So maybe the tribal corners consolidate themselves more vigorously than they would if there was more interaction and feedback from the wider world .

some bs I can spout of a night about how inbred we are
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 11:45 am

No. We aren't. 'Tribe' is an outdated and terribly un-pc term, it implies African chiefs and Red Indians. It's not a coincidence that the British liked classing Ireland as 'tribal' back in the day.

We have a sense of community. Big deal. We're hardly the only country in the world to have local sports affiliations. Tribe is impossible to definitely define (one of the reasons it's obsolete) but I imagine it has more to do with politics than sports. We in Ireland have a relatively centralised political stucture. No all-powerful county councils. Our politicians are clientalist, they prioritise the issues of their constituents. I don't know if that counts as 'tribal' though.

Derbfine means extended family. Most people have one of those. Tuath doesn't mean tribe either, something historians have been trying to get across for decades now. It's just too simplistic a term.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 11:48 am

I think we are in a generation in which the old tribalism of the county, based mainly on GAA affiliation, is being replaced by a greater identity with Irishness. Young people have travelled around, hooked up with Irish people abroad and found that Tipperary is not really so different from Kilkenny. Globalised culture, urbanisation, getting the channels, working for an American firm, are all putting a different perspective onto who we are and which are our most important cultural and social alliances.

The arrival of immigrants of other nationalities than Irish is I think also engendering an unconscious reaction in young Irish people to assert their national culture, and maintain their distinctiveness. The new interest and excitement about speaking Irish is I think partly a result of these changes.

In its day, the county itself was an innovation, someone said to me introduced by the English. Before that we had more clan-based tribalism based on kinship.

That would lead me to think that the passage of time may see national identify become less important and european or even global human identity becoming the basis for the human tribe.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 12:07 pm

Let the record show that Ireland has been exposed to the outside world for a little longer than ten years. We were in an empire, remember? We sent people off to the furthest corners of the world. Wild Geese, Irish legions, the cheque from Americay. To say globalistaion is a new thing is ridiculous.

Back in the last century, Ireland went through a phase known (to me) as 'rural fundamentalism'. This was the notion that Ireland was grand on its own and so we threw up barriers to the outside world and followed an isolationist course. We weren't the only ones doing it. The local was also venerated (I don't mean the pub): the parish and the community. Very Catholic, hence the unfortunate confusion between parishes and tribes here. Ditto the GAA, another very Oirish institution.

My point is that this all happened within our parents and grandparents lifetimes. It didn't particularly work so we dropped it. To say that it is innate and even uniquely Irish is plain silly.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 8:28 pm

I think perhaps what Ard-Taiseach decribes in his opening post is not local tribalism, but the phenomenon of a diaspora. The Irish certainly have the ability to link up to provide mutual supports and comforts on our peregrinations around the world. As to whether this is uniquely Irish, I guess not, and would expect to find these support networks in any other dispersed or emigrant population.

The close knit rural parish also worked within the limitations of contemporary conditions, and is dying with the passage of time and urbanisation, not from anything inherently wrong with it.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 10:57 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I think perhaps what Ard-Taiseach decribes in his opening post is not local tribalism, but the phenomenon of a diaspora. The Irish certainly have the ability to link up to provide mutual supports and comforts on our peregrinations around the world. As to whether this is uniquely Irish, I guess not, and would expect to find these support networks in any other dispersed or emigrant population.

Exactly, cactus flower. I got that feeling watching Deasún Mac an Easpag i Mhéiriceá that there was a feeling of tribal unity even among second and third-generation Irish-Americans. I feel that the connections between ourselves and our diaspora is stronger than that in other emigrant nations. How many Italian-Americans, German-Americans or other immigrant groups go back to the homeland on the national day as regularly as the Irish? I feel that, along with places like Israel, we're a global tribal nation.

Quote :
The close knit rural parish also worked within the limitations of contemporary conditions, and is dying with the passage of time and urbanisation, not from anything inherently wrong with it.

Perhaps, and it is taking new forms of social engagement.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 22, 2008 11:03 pm

905 wrote:
No. We aren't. 'Tribe' is an outdated and terribly un-pc term, it implies African chiefs and Red Indians. It's not a coincidence that the British liked classing Ireland as 'tribal' back in the day.

Mor importantly, it can imply an individual ethnic group, or descendence from one answer, which was never true in an Irish context. Ó Corráin also argues that a tribe based society structure, where the tribe was the ultimate level of governance, was probably never the case in a historical Ireland.

Quote :

Derbfine means extended family. Most people have one of those. Tuath doesn't mean tribe either, something historians have been trying to get across for decades now. It's just too simplistic a term.

Derbfine means a kin group more than merely an extended family. It's function was legal, it was a legal unit by which law and fines were administered. It also was a group with which land was held commonly. This meant that the kin group was given preference over the individual, and thus that it was a superior unit in society. This certainly transmits a tribal atmosphere.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:16 pm

Isn't there a genetic basis for this shared sense of Irishness? After
all, a lot of us would be directly descended from the first
hunter-gatherers that populated Ireland after the last Ice Age.

Regards...jmcc
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:19 pm

jmcc wrote:
Isn't there a genetic basis for this shared sense of Irishness? After
all, a lot of us would be directly descended from the first
hunter-gatherers that populated Ireland after the last Ice Age.

Regards...jmcc

I heard an interesting talk on the radio once, in which it was said that a genetic sampling project had identified the people to the west of a line running from Dundalk to Cork as pretty well ancient Irish and the population to the east being not much different genetically to the UK population. I have tried searching for this study without success.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:25 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I heard an interesting talk on the radio once,
in which it was said that a genetic sampling project had identified the
people to the west of a line running from Dundalk to Cork as pretty
well ancient Irish and the population to the east being not much
different genetically to the UK population. I have tried searching for
this study without success.
I think that the recent research
would have made things clearer. Though it does explain the Us and Them
attitude to Dublin found outside of Dublin. The frequency of one of the
ancient genetic markers was over 80% in the West and was well over 50%
in the rest of Ireland. Ironically, McDowell (if we are to go by his
surname) was descended from illegal Viking immigrants. Smile

One of the other startling findings from a survey of the UK was that 75% of UK females had Celtic DNA.

Regards...jmcc
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:29 pm

jmcc wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I heard an interesting talk on the radio once,
in which it was said that a genetic sampling project had identified the
people to the west of a line running from Dundalk to Cork as pretty
well ancient Irish and the population to the east being not much
different genetically to the UK population. I have tried searching for
this study without success.
I think that the recent research
would have made things clearer. Though it does explain the Us and Them
attitude to Dublin found outside of Dublin. The frequency of one of the
ancient genetic markers was over 80% in the West and was well over 50%
in the rest of Ireland. Ironically, McDowell (if we are to go by his
surname) was descended from illegal Viking immigrants. Smile

One of the other startling findings from a survey of the UK was that 75% of UK females had Celtic DNA.

Regards...jmcc

Hi jmcc. I am very interested in genetic population mapping. Do you have any good links ?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:51 pm

cactus flower wrote:
Hi jmcc. I am very interested in genetic
population mapping. Do you have any good links ?
Apart from the
links that Google throws up on it, I can't think of any. JCSkinner on
p.ie would probably have a few as he checked out his genetic history.
The search term 'Irish haplotypes' might throw up some useful links.

This one has some interesting stuff:

http://www.theclansofireland.ie/dnaresources.html

Regards...jmcc
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 9:58 pm

That's cool - thanks for that link (it's hard to find stuff on the internet unless you know the metalanguage sometimes)

I'd be interested in finding my genetic tribe as well - I've a theory that there's strong Viking blood in me as the family name fans out from Waterford ...
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyTue Apr 29, 2008 10:00 pm

jmcc wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
Hi jmcc. I am very interested in genetic
population mapping. Do you have any good links ?
Apart from the
links that Google throws up on it, I can't think of any. JCSkinner on
p.ie would probably have a few as he checked out his genetic history.
The search term 'Irish haplotypes' might throw up some useful links.

This one has some interesting stuff:

http://www.theclansofireland.ie/dnaresources.html

Regards...jmcc

Mmm! that looks interesting. Thanks Surprised
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyWed Apr 30, 2008 11:57 am

Genetics are all good and well, but they have little to do with identity (outside of Iceland at least). Even biologists are reluctant to organise along genetic lines, though that may be due more to their conservatism.

Genetics isn't very helpful for ethnic topics such as 'Irishness'. Irishness is normally thought of as an ethnicity and these things spread much faster than reproduction. While genetics could be said to spread vertically, down from one generation to the next, ethnicity spreads both vertically (you generally inherit your parents ethnicity) and horizontally (you can acquire an etnicity, through learning the language, becoming a citizen etc.)
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PostSubject: Re: Is Ireland a Tribal Nation?   Is Ireland a Tribal Nation? EmptyWed Apr 30, 2008 12:22 pm

905 wrote:
Genetics are all good and well, but they have little to do with identity (outside of Iceland at least). Even biologists are reluctant to organise along genetic lines, though that may be due more to their conservatism.

Genetics isn't very helpful for ethnic topics such as 'Irishness'. Irishness is normally thought of as an ethnicity and these things spread much faster than reproduction. While genetics could be said to spread vertically, down from one generation to the next, ethnicity spreads both vertically (you generally inherit your parents ethnicity) and horizontally (you can acquire an etnicity, through learning the language, becoming a citizen etc.)

This is an interesting post 905. Words are very loaded when we discuss national identity and racial difference but it would be useful to at least have terms that are based on science.

Genetics clearly can't be acquired. It is your biological family tree. I don't think that the extent, if at all, that genetically inherited characteristics contribute anything to what we call 'national character' ('Irishness' here, 'Welshness' in Wales) has been scientifically established one way or the other. It would be interesting to know if it had.

Irishness as an identity is much more subjective, and as you say horizontal. It is cultural, it changes over time and everyone has their own take on it. You could take a view that it is determined by whether a person feels Irish and calls themselves Irish, or by being a citizen or a permanent resident. From the opposite point of view you can see everyday on P.ie people attempt to come up with lists of qualifications for being Irish that exclude more than half of the population of the country.

Ethnicity is used to cover both origin and character, so in some contexts it can be more confusing than clarifying as a term. There is endless debate over whether Irish Travellers are an ethnic group for example, and the debate does not seem to do anyone very much good, being semantic rather than anything else.

ethnic
adjective
1 of a national or racial group of people:
A question on ethnic origin was included in the census.
The factory's workforce reflects the ethnic mix from which it draws its labour.
Conflicts between the different ethnic groups in the country exploded into civil war.

2 from a different race or interesting because characteristic of an ethnic group which is very different from those that are common in western culture:
ethnic food
ethnic costume
Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary
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