The romantic Irish: Go on, say it

For a nation so comfortable with invention, for a people so at ease gilding the lily, our national folklore is not overcrowded with red-rose, passionate romantics.

 For every William Butler Yeats, who spent his life carrying the wearying burden of his unrequited love for Maud Gonne, we have Flying Columns of strapping young men far more interested in the National Question or hurling — or in some hopeless cases, greyhounds — than they were in affairs of the heart.

Though he was a gallant Frenchman, Cyrano de Bergerac would, under our rules of engagement, have had to play second fiddle to one of the more one-dimensional, more austere, duller heroes history offers us. 

Equally, it seems difficult to find much in common between, say, Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett and Peig. Circumstances are of course relevant but it is hard to imagine that Casanova could have been Irish — despite the irony that there are many Irish Casanovas, who are entirely different animals.

These are of course irrelevant theories today, the once-a-year day when practical romance must prevail.

Go on, say it.


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