Readers Blog: Donegal Glaswegians’ disrespect for migrants

I had a conversation with a west Donegal man in the lead-up to Christmas who urged me in the strongest possible terms, to write about what he had to say.

Glasgow city by night.

Dennis (not his real name) had just returned after spending a week visiting friends and relatives in the Govan hill area of Glasgow.

Dennis was a man who had spent many years in the earlier days, working throughout Scotland in the field of civil engineering.

He worked and lived in camps during the construction of electricity dams in the highlands, and stayed in digs good and bad while driving machines on building sites in Glasgow.

While on his visit, Dennis made it his business to engage in conversation with some of the city’s migrant families, mainly from eastern Europe.

He asked them about their fears surrounding the approaching Brexit deadline, and what might their future be like in the aftermath, many were understandably fearful about the unknown consequences that lay ahead for them.

Dennis was shocked by the attitude and hostility shown by Glasgow-based people of Donegal extraction, who have moved to the suburbs and become more or less part of the establishment’s ivory towers, hoity toity viewpoint of the less well off.

If we forget the unsavoury treatment that was meted out to Irish people not that long ago, then there is nothing to prevent us, assuming the same detestable opinion of other less fortunate people of different nationalities, if we adopt the pretentious role of upper crust elitism.

It only takes a short generational timespan for people to forget where they originated from, and how the people who came before them, mainly from Mayo, Derry and Donegal who departed from Derry and Belfast docks on cattle boats, on all night sailings as late as the ’70s.

Dennis recalls seeing the flashing sign that exemplified us as pariahs to a large section of the “English and Scottish electorate” hung up outside a Lyons Tea factory, with the words “no Irish need apply”.

In the ’60s and ’70s, if you attended certain (Catholic) schools In Glasgow, it wouldn’t matter what education or qualifications you had, you still had no chance of getting a decent job.

It is for these reasons that those who holiday at home in Donegal, Mayo, Derry or whatever part of Ireland, where their parents or grandparents are from, should show more humility to people who are having to suffer degrading insults and accusations thrown at them, in an “aw wreit” ‘Glesga’ twang.

He related to me of how in the ’50s, Cumberland St echoed to the sound of Gaelic being shouted and spoken over garden fences drowning out what little conversation in English was being spoken.

Now due to changes in demographics, the sounds are Asian or eastern Europe being heard over the fences and on the streets.

James Woods

Gort an Choirce

Dun na nGall


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