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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Does my Irish roots make me a foreigner in Australia?

Topic: Does my Irish roots make me a foreigner in Australia?

9 posts, 0 answered
  1. ScarlettR
    ScarlettR avatar
    48 posts
    24 April 2019

    First, I am not trolling or upset or venting. I'm cool about it and am quite curious.

    My mum is a immigrant from the UK - her father was English, and her mother was Irish. My dad is Anglo-Australian - meaning his ancestors migrated to Australia from Kent, England, in the early 1800s, not as convicts but as free settlers.

    So my ethnic makeup is 50% Anglo-Australian, 25% Irish and 25% English.

    So my main issue is that I've always struggled to make friends since the age of 10. It's like, starting at age 10 at school, the other kids stopped talking to me or having anything to do with me, and I would walk the schoolyard on my own during recess and lunch, feeling absolutely foolish and confused and upset. This didn't happen in just one school, but in at least three primary schools I went to, plus the first few years of high school.

    I don't know if it was because of my partial Irish background that set me different from the other Aussies? Someone commented that I have an American terminology/ way of speaking that is different from how Aussies speak and socialise. Being octracised and friendless for years put mental toll on me and I've been struggling with mental illness for years.

    It doesn't help that my parents don't have any friends themselves, and their own respective families have estranged them.

  2. quirkywords
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    quirkywords avatar
    13023 posts
    24 April 2019 in reply to ScarlettR

    Scarlett,

    I am sorry you have had trouble making friends.

    To answer your question in your title,I would say no.

    Maybe I have had a different experience. I have found Irish people to be most loved and admired in Australia. You only have to look at all the well known Irish people here including comedians, actors and singers.

    People are proud of there Irish heritage here and there have been programs made about the importance of Irish in Australia. Also everyone I know is proud if they have an Irish ancestor

    There can be many reasons why people have trouble making friends and it can be hard at times. I am so sorry you have felt ostracised and friendless . Children can be so unkind at times for a variety of reasons. I felt alone at school as I was no good at sports so I could not join in games.

    Have you ever joined an Irish club or group to learn more about your heritage?

    Thanks for post.,

    Quirky

    Thanks for writing this post.

  3. Jackson85
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    Jackson85 avatar
    82 posts
    25 April 2019 in reply to ScarlettR

    Hi ScarlettR,

    I would have thought that your background is quite 'Australian', in terms of how we assess 'Australian-ness' of settlers and immigrants. To have family here for the last couple of hundred years seems like you have more family history here than most today. Perhaps the differences between how you feel as an Australian, and how you seem to be perceived by others as an Australian, is down to social and behavioural factors, like you mentioned. I was born overseas, my father's side is 100% non-australian, and my mother's side is, like you, mostly Irish, however if I can use Aussie slang and wear thongs then people seem to accept me as a 'fair dinkum' kind of Australian :)

    Of course I can't comment on your school experience, and difficulty making friends (though if you'd like to chat about that I'd be more than happy to), but in my personal experience, children seem to identify the most conspicuous differences between themselves and you, maybe not such subtle differences as what kind of anglo you are. I had a very bright, fluffy pencil case as an 11-year-old boy (which I loved), which was a very easy point of difference, and definitely brought its fair share of teasing and commentary!

    If you'd like to chat more about what it's been like to feel ostracised, or the mental struggles you've endured, please feel free to do so here, I just didn't comment on those so much because it seemed you were more interested in a surface-level discussion about backgrounds :)

    Jackson85

    1 person found this helpful
  4. geoff
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    geoff avatar
    15556 posts
    25 April 2019 in reply to ScarlettR

    Hi ScarlettR, I just want to answer your question first if that is OK.

    I remember when our government had politicians of dual citizenship go, they had to leave parliament, a ridiculous ruling, because our grandparents came from different countries, mine are from England and Germany, however, my parents were both born in Australia just as their children which include myself and 4 siblings.

    Don't feel as though you should be picked on, as each and every one of us has our accent that others can or can not understand.

    Isn't the same as having different personalities.

    Best wishes.

    Geoff.

    1 person found this helpful
  5. ScarlettR
    ScarlettR avatar
    48 posts
    25 April 2019 in reply to quirkywords

    quirkywords: Yes, I suppose kids can be unkind for a lot of reasons, but it's best not to take it seriously.

    BTW, I have joined a club at my university for journalist students where each week we are assigned a story to report and conduct some interviews. The stories are reviewed by the club's founders then published to the main university website. As a journalist student, I feel accomplishment for publishing news stories and gaining experience, while also meeting similar journalism students.

    Another recent success is that I have joined an online dating app and met someone from it. We are not dating, just friends, but because we share similar interests, it's very easy to have conversation, bond and have fun. We catched up for lunch yesterday actually and had a blast visiting the Art Centre's Music Vault and National Gallery (I'm from Melbourne).

    There's a saying that you make friends with people whom you recognise. My new friend reminds me a lot of my older sister in mannerisms and talking.

    Jackson85: thank you for offering to listen. My life isn't totally sad - I've made some new friends recently. I guess a custom here is that people tend to stick with people they've known from school. Kids would make that decision without thinking it may exclude certain others.

    In a funny way, I've always related to English people, being part English. My mum doesn't like the English because of the way they treated the Irish historically. Me in contrast relates with English and get along with them well.

  6. quirkywords
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    quirkywords avatar
    13023 posts
    26 April 2019 in reply to ScarlettR

    Scarlett

    Thanks for your reply and explain how things are for you now.

    You make a lot of interesting points. Opposites do attract at time and we also like to looks for someone familiar.

    The club for journalists sounds like very good experience and as you write well and are interested in topics you will fit in there.

    I felt at home in Wales even though I have no Welsh ancestors.

    Quirky

  7. Gizz 36
    Gizz 36 avatar
    53 posts
    28 October 2019
    Hi scarelette my parent's r Irish aswell there from cork but I was born here in Melbourne hope we can be friends
  8. Guest_6465
    Guest_6465 avatar
    12 posts
    27 January 2020 in reply to ScarlettR
    In short, NO. Some 75% of Australians, including myself, claim some degree of Irish ancestry. If anything, though observation, Irish people or anyone with an accent are often treated favourably.
  9. TheBigBlue
    TheBigBlue avatar
    218 posts
    27 June 2020

    Hi ScarlettR,

    interesting topic. I think perhaps a lot of of how people react to you is affected by how they were brought up, what their family dynamics are etc.

    Speaking for me personally, I would have thought someone with Irish ancestry would fit right in. I’m sure a large majority of this country share a similar background.

    i think I have had a great & open upbringing. My dad was born in Europe, his mother was from Belgium, his father from Poland. English is not his first language, but if you talked to him in street you would never know.

    His younger sister was born after they migrated to Australia. Fast forward many years, my dad marries an Aussie, my aunt marries an Italian.

    More fast forwarding, one sister marries a Greek, another sister an Englishman & I’ve been with my Sri Lankan boyfriend for 12 years. Our family get togethers are the most fun & interesting times. So many cultural differences, stories, foods, beliefs. People will generally speak English but depending on who you are listening too you may hear French, Polish, Greek, Italian or even Tamil.
    And whenever we get together I feel like we are one of the most Aussie families ever!

    So I guess depending on where you are in this big old country, the cultural make up of the population in that place etc will definitely affect your experiences of acceptance.

    i can’t answer why the kids didn’t seem to want to become friends, but that’s their challenge to overcome, not yours. You just need to find the right group of people that simply accept you for who you are. Easier said than done, I know.

    But I am certain you would fit right in at one of my family get togethers!

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