Ireland? Never heard of it!

I just received a book I bought over the internet. On the last line of the address was ‘Country: IE’. Now that’s the last bloody straw. Nobody seems to know the name of this State.

Well let me inform you all. This state is called Ireland.

Ireland. Got it?

Not the Republic of Ireland. Not the Irish Republic. Not the Free State. Not Southern Ireland. Not the South of Ireland. And certainly not Country: IE.

Look at the front of your passport. It says ‘Ireland’. If you want to use the Irish language name for the State then you can say ‘Éire’.

The name ‘Ireland’ is recognised by every country in the world, so there’s no problem really. This state is called ‘Ireland’ and the jurisdiction to the north-east is called ‘Northern Ireland’.

I can’t see how this is confusing and yet nobody seems to know this.

Unfortunately, we are part architects of this confusion. Although the name of the state is ‘Ireland’, in 1948 the Oireachtas passed the ‘Republic of Ireland Act’ for the purposes of declaring the state a republic. The act says that: ‘It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.’

Which seems to put the ‘Republic of Ireland’ name in lights except for the fact that the constitution still says the name is ‘Ireland’ and what the constitution says is the law of the land. The 1948 act is therefore probably unconstitutional.

What compounded the confusion is that up until 1953 both Irish soccer teams called themselves ‘Ireland’. FIFA then declared that the northerners would be called ‘Northern Ireland’ and the southerners would be called ‘Republic of Ireland’.

And, oddly enough, nowhere in the constitution is Ireland described as a republic. Isn’t that gas, seeing as most of us describe the place as ‘the Republic’ on a daily basis.

What this all amounts to is a serious assault on the theory that you need a strong brand name to succeed because we’ve done all right even though the name of the place is a complete shambles.

It’s fascinating. Apparently, if you are the Ambassador of Jupiter or wherever and you show up at the Aras with your credentials saying you’re the new ambassador to the Irish Republic, you will be shown the door. In fact, it’s a diplomatic incident to describe this state as the ‘Irish Republic’.

This is because the Irish Republic originally referred in 1916 and 1919 to the whole 32 counties. And because that initiative didn’t come off as planned, it’s impolite to mention it.

Now that we have more or less come to an agreement with the British and the unionists about our relationships, is it not time that we cleared up the name of our state?

We should stick with ‘Ireland’. There’s Meath and Westmeath. There’s Virginia and West Virginia. No-one’s confused.

We should decide on one name and stick with it. Otherwise we’ll probably end up with a number.