Remembering Myles: ‘…to be a person, completely unaware of nationalistic neuroses is a very fine ambition.’

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the great Brian O’Nolan, aka Flann O’Brien, aka Myles na gCopaleen we’re taking a lead from a Scotsman (who unlike us, did not forget). With a bow and a tip of the hat to Alex Massie, here’s the boy at his best…

‘To be decently ashamed of where one was born is the civilised attitude […] rejecting parochial affiliations […] repudiate the national attachment’; proposed ‘statutary denationalisation’ so that ‘the man irretrievably born Irish and thoroughly unproud of it [is] accord some gentle and statutory exit’; ‘Why is there no legal provision whereby an Irish persona can divest himself of Irishry?

Why does not Irish Oifigiul […] contain in each issue a list of ex-Irishmen, decent souls who find the game no longer amusing? (Pray heaven, reader, am I saying the wrong thing again?) Why is there not a decent and entirely honourable quietus available to those of us who have – let us be quite open about this – never entered into the sweaty conspiracy known as the Walls of Limerick? Is the disease then […] incurable?

My own submission is that it is not – that if taken in time wonders can be done […] You will be aware of the formula prescribed as the preliminary to civil marriage. You must publish a notice in the papers, certifying that your name is so-and-so, that you have not attended a place of public worship for so many weeks, and so on.

Similar renunciations … should entitle a man born here to statutory denationalisation … to be a person, completely unaware of nationalistic neuroses is a very fine ambition.’


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