I’m British-born*. My wife is Irish-born*. After some back-and-forth with Her Majesty’s Passport Office (complicated by my father’s pre-WWII Burmese birth), our child now carries citizenship for both countries. Our little family, it turns out, is an ongoing reflection of the geopolitical relationship between these two islands. I look forward to recounting the story to our offspring one day.
We can start with Irish partition/Home Rule then head through to the Troubles (where my father served a very active British Army tour in bomb disposal). We’ll look at how the Good Friday Agreement ensured dual citizenship rights that pass on the benefit of two passports and then on to Brexit and the reasons why one British passport in our family is a different colour and layout to another. We might even, if I dare, discuss the Protestant/Catholic divisions in Ireland and how, even now, the administrative complexities in our ‘mixed marriage’ were avoided by our Humanist ceremony (/my atheism).
Oh yes, my poor child can look forward to a lifetime of in-depth explanations tying the present to the past. And that’s just how it should be, said the History Teacher.
*I say “-born” as I don’t know the extent to which the places of our birth truly reflect either of our senses of belonging at this stage of our lives. I, for one, find it hard to look at the consequences of the last UK election (or, for that matter, some of those that preceded it) and feel “yes, that’s my nation”. Particularly today, as the UK hits the tragic milestone of topping 100,000 Covid19 deaths: one of the worst in the world (at this point in time) and the Prime Minister responsible announces that “we truly did everything we could”. Disillusionment, I guess you would call it. Perhaps it goes some way to explaining why we’ve spent the last 5 years hanging out with a million and a half penguins 8,000 miles from our home countries. Yet another discussion for another day, that.