Sparks of Hope Ep7: So, Where Are You Really From?
Sahar Rahmani is Irish. She was born and raised in Galway, speaks fluent Irish and her daughter attends a Gael Scoil. For Sahar, Ireland is home and there’s no place else she’d rather be or rather raise her children.
In this episode of Sparks of Hope, Sahar chats with her friend, Ciamh Alexander, about what exactly constitutes Irish identity. They explore issues around heritage, ethnicity, nationality and culture and how we define Irishness.
The friends discuss the idea of home. What exactly constitutes home. Is it a sense of place? An anchor that gives us a feeling of belonging? A place where we can be ourselves? They also chat about the devastation of being told you don’t belong to the place you call home. This is an experience that, surprisingly, even red-haired, white-skinned Ciamh has had when, as a child, she was told she wasn’t really Irish because she wasn’t raised as a Catholic.
Gaeilgeoir Sahar explains how the Irish language has evolved and now contains words that didn’t exist hundreds of years ago. As a living language Irish is accommodating who we are now and adapting to the needs of modern Irish life. In the same way our culture is beginning to evolve to embrace who we are now. This process helps us to hold on to the parts of our traditions and culture that are unique and valuable while also embracing influences from other cultures and incorporating trends that better suit modern life.
Our culture is something we co-create, we all have a part in its development. We each contribute to, and benefit from, the societies in which we live. This means that we can choose to create a vibrant, developing, healthy and inclusive way of being - a place where everyone can belong.
Ciamh and Sahar take a deep dive into Irishness. They look at how the children of Irish emigrants see themselves as Irish and, equally, the children of Irish immigrants also see themselves as Irish. There is no problem with either as there is plenty of Irishness to go round. As Sahar puts it, “It’s not cake, where you say, this is mine and you can’t have any of it - there’s plenty of cake to go around. For me, I was born and raised in Ireland, so in the truest sense of the word Ireland is my home - I’m Sahar and I’m from Ireland.”