This week Michael D Higgins became the first Irish president to make an official state visit to Britain. With extensive coverage and commentary offered by the Irish media, RTÉ’s Drivetime opted to approach the occasion from a slightly different angle with a slot on the new Irish in Britain. I was invited on to comment briefly in my capacity as a historian on the historical significance of Higgins’s visit, but more particularly to discuss my experience of being an Irish person in Britain. We were joined on-air by writer Paddy Duffy, who has been in the UK somewhat longer than me. Both of us spoke of our positive experiences.
I moved to Britain last August to take up a new post at the University of Hertfordshire. My decision to leave Ireland was based on the fact that I had a a good job offer that brings with it great opportunities. I don’t feel that I had to emigrate, and I’m fortunate that the decision to move was mine (rather than one necessitate by a job search). Ireland will always be my home, but I’m very comfortable and happy in Britain. It seems, listening to Paddy’s contribution to Drivetime, that his experience has been very similar.
You can listen to the full conversation below.