Throughout history various groups and peoples have arrived in Ireland but they have generally been absorbed into Irishness. For example, the Anglo-Normans or Old English, who came to Ireland in the 12th century, became known as Hiberniores Hibernicis Ipsis, or 'more Irish than the Irish themselves'. Of that process the English poet Edmund Spenser wrote, ‘Lord how quickly doth that country alter men’s natures.’
[A View of the Present State of Ireland p 151]
Since the advent of the Gaelic revival and Irish cultural nationalism in the 19th century, the cultural vision of Irish nationalists has generally included as a core element the absorption orassimilation of all others into their culture and identity. They believe that those who arrive and settle in Ireland either become Irish or should become Irish, not merely in some vague geographical sense but in terms of cultural identity.
The fact that the Ulster-Scots have not been absorbed was also noted, albeit in a thoroughly intolerant way, by John Francis Taylor (1850-1902), an influential Dublin barrister and Irish nationalist: 'Wherever the English have come they blended with the people … but these unthinkable Scotch, why indeed were they kept upon the planet?'
Today Irish nationalism and Irish republicanism are more sophisticated and subtle in their approach but they remain largely intolerant of those cultural traditions which are not Irish and Gaelic and therefore they continue to seek preferential treatment for Irish and Gaelic culture.
The Gaelic vision of cultural absorption set out by Moran, Hyde and others was an intolerant vision and one that should have no place in out society. We must seek to build a shared and better future in Northern Ireland, a future based on equality, diversity and interdependence, and that should also be the way forward for the Republic of Ireland.