What the English didn't manage to do for them

If you, like me, are living in a foreign country to the one you were born in then you, like me, will no doubt have had the pleasure of having the shortcomings of your race explained to you. If you, like me, are a Brit living in Ireland then you will feel vaguely uneasy, apologise profusely and make a mental note to research the less savoury aspects of the British Empire at the earliest opportunity.
Having done so you will find that the Irish have spent their first 90 years of independence convincing themselves that they are the greatest nation on earth and if it wasn’t for those pesky Brits oppressing them, they would have managed something really worthwhile by now.

My Mammy was at the Foot Twiddler the other day and was telling her about Bath Spa and how lovely it was and about the history of the place and everything and was rather surprised when the Foot Twiddler began pulling faces and muttering bad things about the Romans and how cruel they were what with feeding Christians to the lions everyday and keeping slaves and all the rest of it. She seemed very grateful that they’d taken one look at her Island and decided not to bother.
Naturally when my Mammy told me I pointed out how untrue this was. A lion wouldn’t eat a whole person every day. They don’t have that kind of appetite.
“But they kept slaves!” She retorted, “That’s terrible.”
I asked if she’d mentioned St Patrick to the Foot Twiddler at all, since they were on the subject of slavery; a nice Welsh boy stolen from his homeland by Irish raiders.
In any case, given the choice between freedom and kipping down with my livestock or oppression and indoor plumbing, I know which one I’d go for.

It’s the same when you mention the English to them. Clearly they were all devils incarnate who, lacking entertainment one Sunday afternoon, invaded a sovereign nation and did unspeakable things to its population. What they don’t mention is that the only reason Strongbow invaded was because he was paid to. By an Irishman.

Most leaders, having invaded themselves a shiny new country (or accepted parts of it in payment for mercenary services provided) set about improving it. It’s like when you have a new home. You don’t decide that the lime and orange flock wallpaper from the 70’s needs respectfully leaving where it is; you grab a sledgehammer and begin getting some quotes for modern central heating.
The Romans gave us, oh gosh, lots of things. The Saxons gave us… erm… blond hair possibly. The Normans gave us the Feudal system, if I remember my year 7 history lessons correctly. Cromwell gave us a Parliament we could all laugh at. In Britain we accept our losses and embrace the ways of the new overlords. It usually turns out to be a good move.
In Ireland they spend a lot of time moaning about things and pretend nothing good ever happened. In one of the Dublin museums they have a “What the English Did For Us” section hidden away at the top of the stairs. It’s not made entirely clear what the English Did but after much study I ascertained they introduced an agrarian economy. They are also, although the museum didn’t mention it, directly responsible for the existence of the Newbridge Silverware factory. Think of that next time you’re watching the Rose of Tralee.

Something the English didn’t seem to manage to introduce were trades. When you think of the vast majority of the British Isles, you can’t move for market towns. Everywhere you go there are picturesque villages with brick buildings and mayors and things. In Ireland, there aren’t.
This was brought home to me when I realised that everybody in Ireland has a Norman surname. They are all called Darcy, Devereaux (pronounced Dev-ricks locally), Mansell and Kehoe. When was the last time you met an Irishman called Paddy Smith?
At no extra cost to yourselves I have kindly checked the phonebook on this matter and found that all of those quintessential English trade names, (Baker, Smith, Wright, Sawyer) are non-existent. There are more people in my phonebook called John Kennedy than there are with the surname Archer. It is the same with the Welsh Patronymics: Parry, Pritchard, Jones, virtually none of them. I would have checked some Scotch names but I don’t know any and I am not asking to be told. For an invading force we didn’t leave much of a mark on the population.

Anyway. Welcome invaders into your lives. They’re bound to manage something useful

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