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Useful Notes: The New Irish

'The New Irish' is the current politically correct term for recent immigrants into Ireland (replacing the confusing and possibly offensive 'Non-Irish Nationals'). It generally does not cover longstanding native minorities like Irish Travellers or the small but distinctive Irish Jewish community.

Up until very recently Ireland was primarily a nation of emigration, a country you left rather than came to (an exception being made for the sizable Ulster Scot population in the North). This led to a certain homogeny: the Irish population was almost entirely white and almost entirely Christian. Ethnic minorities were mostly students or involved in the restaurant trade and rarely showed up on Irish TV or in Irish films.

This has begun to change since The Nineties. Increased prosperity brought a new wave of immigrants that have begun settling into the country. Irish media is (slowly) recognising this change and has begun featuring New Irish characters.

Examples:

Film
  • The Girl from Once is a Czech immigrant.
  • The protagonist of The Front Line is a Congolese immigrant, who works as a security guard at a bank and is forced to participate in a Tiger raid.
  • Gabriella from The Guard is a Croatian immigrant who married Aidan in a marriage of convenience.

Live-Action TV
  • Fair City has featured Russian and Nigerian characters.
  • Raw actually has a majority of the cast consisting of immigrants, which is not implausible considering it is set in a restaurant.
  • In a strangely prophetic joke, a 1998 episode of Father Ted involved a large Chinatown existing on Craggy Island. As it happened Chinese immigrants have since become the largest visibly foreign minority and there has been serious talk of establishing an official Chinatown in Dublin. Most are students who never left after visas ran out: the census gave 11,000 Chinese but the figure could be nine times this.
  • The English Class is a sitcom about immigrants learning English under a particularly dreadful David Brent like Irish teacher.
  • Love/Hate has Nidge hire an Eastern European Giant Mook as his bodyguard for a time until said Giant Mook nearly loses a leg to a machete attack.

Music
  • Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, of Irish and Afro-South American parentage, is regarded as the first "New Irish" artist to break through to the mainstream.