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Iris Murdoch

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I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the same.
The Red and the Green (1965), ch. 2, p. 30.

Iris Murdoch

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...I wanna know about the commercial I saw on TV: An Irish guy walking through a field of green, whistling one of those Irish jigs, and a woman walks up and says, "Manly, yes, but I like it too." Then the guy pulls out a huge knife and cuts off his first two fingers and somehow catches them in what's left of his left hand and hands them to the woman. Did I mention they're both dressed in green? They they both sing this song together: "Are ya icky? Are ya sticky? Are ya hot as anything? Hey! Cut off two of your fingers, and stab yourself in the eye!" Then he stabs himself in the eye and hands her the knife, and she stabs herself in the eye, okay? Okay? So what about that?

John S. Hall

We have come to the holiest place in Ireland; holier to us even than the place where Patrick sleeps in Down. Patrick brought us life, but this man died for us. And though many before him and some since have died in testimony of the truth of Ireland’s claim to nationhood, Wolfe Tone was the greatest of all that have made that testimony, the greatest of all that have died for Ireland whether in old times or in new. He was the greatest of Irish Nationalists; I believe he was the greatest of Irish men. And if I am right in this I am right in saying that we stand in the holiest place in Ireland, for it must be that the holiest sod of a nation’s soil is the sod where the greatest of her dead lies buried.

Patrick Pearse

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Sojourner Truth

Well, here we are, the Irish in America. The Irish have been coming to America for years, going back to the great famine when the Irish were on the run from starvation and a British Government that couldn't care less. Right up to today, you know, there are more Irish immigrants here in America today than ever — some illegal, some legal. A lot of them are just running from high unemployment, some run from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, from the hatred of the H Blocks, torture. Others from wild acts of terrorism like we had today in a town called Enniskillen, where eleven people lie dead, and many more injured, on a Sunday Bloody Sunday.


[Julian Gough's] notion that shouting the word 'feck' – Father Ted has a lot to answer for – and being grossly scatological will make him seem echt Irish only harms his argument. We who were born and continue to live in Ireland are always distressed by the stage-Irish antics so often to be encountered among the sons and daughters of the diaspora. But it is true, as the critic Declan Kiberd remarks, that no contemporary Irish writer has yet attempted the Great Irish Novel on social and political themes. Where is our Middlemarch, our Doctor Zhivago, our Rabbit trilogy? The fact is Irish fiction tends to be poetic rather than prosaic, which is something that non-Irish reviewers find hard to grasp. John McGahern used to say that there is verse and there is prose, and then there is poetry, and poetry can occur in either form, and that in Ireland it occurs more often in prose than in verse. There may be a grittily realistic novelist even now writing a masterpiece such as Mr Gough says he longs for, and, if so, I applaud her/him.

John Banville
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