Two Years in Maynooth!

Mí na Nollag (the Month of Christmas) is how you say December in the Irish language. Today is the first of that month, which it makes it precisely two years to the day since I started work at Maynooth University. That seems a very long time ago as so much has happened since I wrote my first blog post after arriving in Ireland!

When I first moved here quite a lot of people asked me why I was moving to Ireland so I wrote quite a long post about it here. In december 2017 I wouldn’t have predicted that the UK would still be in the European Union but as I said in that post:

I think it’s still quite possible that the Brexit project will fail under the weight of its own contradictions, but that no longer matters. The damage has already been done. The referendum campaign, followed by the callous and contemptuous attitude of the current UK Government towards EU nationals living in Britain, unleashed a sickening level of xenophobia that has made me feel like a stranger in my own country. Not everyone who voted `Leave’ is a bigot, of course, but every bigot voted for Brexit and the bigots are now calling all the shots. There are many on the far right of UK politics who won’t be satisfied until we have ethnic cleansing. Even if Brexit is stopped the genie of intolerance is out of the bottle and I don’t think it well ever be put back. Brexit will also doom the National Health Service and the UK university system, and clear the way for the destruction of workers’ rights and environmental protection. The poor and the sick will suffer, while only the rich swindlers who bought the referendum result will prosper. The country in which I was born, and in which I have lived for the best part of 54 years, is no longer something of which I want to be a part.

Although two years on Brexit still hasn’t happened, the intervening two years have confirmed my worst fears. England has become increasingly intolerant and xenophobic and the forthcoming General Election looks set to usher in an utterly terrible government of fraudsters, liars and charlatans who will destroy all that is decent in the United Kingdom. The one silver lining I can see is that there is a chance at least that within my lifetime there will be a united Ireland. I’m very much looking forward to the party if that happens!

I’ve had several academic visitors from the UK over the last few months (including two on Friday). None have asked why I moved to Ireland. With UK universities currently on strike and the wider domestic political situation a shitshow of epic proportions, I’m not surprised about that at all. Ireland is by no means a paradise, but I’m glad I’m here.

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