Violent realities: Stories from an Irish Minority

Tony John Walsh

Abstract

The small Irish Protestant minority has had complex, blurred and dramatically changing relationships with roles of both victimizer and victim. It has moved from an alignment with forces of British colonial power to extreme marginality, persecution and the threat of extinction following Irish political Independence. In the last decade it is coping with sudden acceptability and growth. It has moved from being mildly aligned to Britain to being quite fiercly Irish and has been variously (and often simultaneously) execrated, marginalized, silenced, silent, depressed, superior, patronized and patronising.

Utilising Foucault’s notions of discourse, power and resistance, this paper explores a small number of vignettes emerging from a recent narrative research inquiry into Irish Protestant identity. The paper draws also on Bronwyn Davies’ concept of positioning through language and social interaction to increase, challenge and complicate our understanding of the layered, nuanced and often contradictory dynamics of victimhood and victimizer in that evolving scenario.

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