So do the romantics, the people who have visited to see the land of their ancestors or the concept sold by Irish pubs worldwide or whatever, and found shamrocks and strange dark beer with creamy tops and maybe some deep Celtic mystery, but more likely leprechauns and jolly dancing and all the other stereotypes.
I was one of them, many years ago. Now, I only want to visit and when I do, I fall in love with it, landscape, people and all, and want to move back, immediately. But my Irish man will not hear of it. He does have the bigger picture. Believe me. He loves Ireland, too.
Ireland is complicated. But Ireland is European, fiercely European. And Brexit is not. And that is going to be a huge problem. Something to be afraid of. Because there is the matter of Northern Ireland, that small upper right hand corner of the island of Ireland. And I ask myself these days, does Theresa May actually have any idea?
To illustrate my point, first Seamus Heaney (Nobel Lecture 1995)
One of the most harrowing moments in the whole history of the harrowing of the heart in Northern Ireland came when a minibus full of workers being driven home one January evening in 1976 was held up by armed and masked men and the occupants of the van ordered at gunpoint to line up at the side of the road. Then one of the masked executioners said to them, "Any Catholics among you, step out here". As it happened, this particular group, with one exception, were all Protestants, so the presumption must have been that the masked men were Protestant paramilitaries about to carry out a tit-for-tat sectarian killing of the Catholic as the odd man out, the one who would have been presumed to be in sympathy with the IRA and all its actions. It was a terrible moment for him, caught between dread and witness, but he did make a motion to step forward. Then, the story goes, in that split second of decision, and in the relative cover of the winter evening darkness, he felt the hand of the Protestant worker next to him take his hand and squeeze it in a signal that said no, don't move, we'll not betray you, nobody need know what faith or party you belong to. All in vain, however, for the man stepped out of the line; but instead of finding a gun at his temple, he was thrown backward and away as the gunmen opened fire on those remaining in the line, for these were not Protestant terrorists, but members, presumably, of the Provisional IRA.
Second, Martina Anderson, Member of the European Parliament, today (I am generally not a friend of Sinn Féin, her party, but she does have a point):