We are not plastic. We are not fake. We are Irish.
IRISH DIASPORA PROJECT
Broadening the recorded experiences of the Irish diaspora
I AM IRISH is a global story-gathering project documenting Irishness as a felt identity rather than a birthright.. Gathering and recording experiences of Irishness without giving precedence to genetic or physical qualification. Stories of first generation emigrants will be collected alongside the experiences of second, third, fourth and fifth generation Irish.
The aim is to record and gather as diverse and broad a range of cultural experiences, aiming to define ‘Irishness’ as an inclusive identity, celebrating and defining the wide reaching influence of the Irish as a globally popular race.
The project will validate those who crave Irish identity regardless of birth of direct experience of Ireland itself
‘Irishness’ is Ireland’s most enduring and valuable export. Patrick’s Day, traditional music and dance, aran gaensies, Irish pubs – the humour, talent and authenticity of the Irish personality, specific aspects of our heritage continue to appeal to people globally. Irishness as a commodity has been enduring.
‘Irishness’ as an identity, however, remains elusive. The Irish Diaspora is still largely identifed at home as first generation Irish who emigrate for work. However, these numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 60s and Ireland has long been reliant on the second, third – up to sixth generation Irish to keep Irish culture alive abroad.
Still, while the diaspora patronage is welcomed, claims of Irish identity from second generation American and UK-born Irish continue to be dismissed as fake or ‘plastic’.
It is time for the foreign-born Irish to have their identity recognised and celebrated by the Irish in Ireland.
The I Am Irish project aims to open the door and let everyone in; broadening the definition of 'Irish' with stories and research that embrace the foreign born Irish, the generations who never came home but celebrated their culture nonetheless - as 'one of us'. Not 'More Irish Than The Irish Themselves" - not 'Plastic Paddy'. Just - Irish.
I Am Irish Diaspora Project will be part of the Mary Robinson Presidential Library opening in Ballina, Mayo in 2023.