Whenever Ireland and the Irish are portrayed or discussed in the media, it is often through recourse to centuries-old stereotypes. When the twelfth-century Norman chronicler, Gerald of Wales, wrote of the Irish that they were “a wild and inhospitable people” who were nevertheless incomparably skilled musicians, he was contributing to the construction of a set of characteristics, behaviors, and personality traits that would often be returned to. A number of recent news items illustrate how longstanding stereotypes continue to influence people’s perceptions of the Irish. In January 2011, the Irish American website Irish Central carried a report headlined “Australian immigrants complain about fighting Irish image.” Accompanying the report is an excerpt from an Australian current affairs television show, concerning the reactions of residents to the behavior of clientele frequenting a bar in their neighborhood. Against a backdrop of Irish music and Guinness signs, the item includes CCTV footage of drunken brawls taking place on the street outside the bar. When one of the residents is asked “Who are these people?” she replies “Well a lot of them are Irish.” Another resident confirms this perception, stating that “I’m sure they couldn’t get away with it in County Kerry or wherever the hell they come from.” In March 2012 the Irish Independent reported that an Australian employer had placed an advertisement for bricklayers but had stipulated that no Irish need apply.


Nineteenth Century Irish Woman Irish Representation Irish Immigrant Australian Immigrant 
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© Jennifer Mooney 2015

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