When Irish ties . . .

Antrim-born Joseph Beckett Steele and his wife, Hanna, at their house in Dalton-in-Furness
County Antrim-born Joseph Beckett Steele and his wife, Hannah, at their house in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria (or Lancashire, as it was back then)

APPLICATIONS submitted by Britons for Irish passports have soared by more than 70 per cent since the UK voted to leave the European Union. My wife is included in this number, courtesy of her grandfather, Joseph Beckett Steele, who migrated to England from County Antrim in the early years of the last century to work in the iron ore mines of the Furness Peninsula and fight for his country during the First World War. Strange how events unfold as years pass by . . .

The Irish passport office reported an initial surge several months ago and was obliged to take on extra staff to cope with demand. Newspapers reported yesterday that the surge has increased by 73 per cent over the corresponding period last year. We initiated our process in the aftermath of the June 23 vote. Machinery is in motion, although it’s clanking slowly.

In line with the many thousands of others applying for Irish passports, we intend to guarantee our right to live and work anywhere within the European Union. If this requires us to ditch our British passports for those of another country, then that’s life. Two million British people living and working in the EU have been ditched by the British electorate. Good job there wasn’t a vote over the Dunkirk evacuation, that’s all I can say. Sorry, you’re on your own now, Tommy.

Irish government policy appears to be more altruistic than that of its neighbour. Anyone born on the island of Ireland is entitled to a passport, not merely those from the republic. Indeed, a high proportion of applicants in this latest wave are from Northern Ireland. Anyone born abroad whose parents or grandparents were born on the island of Ireland is entitled.

Proof of entitlement must be provided. Original birth, marriage and death certificates of the parent and grandparent through whom descent is being traced must accompany the application. Acquiring these documents is a bit of an undertaking, but Anne and her sister have succeeded.

And me, I’m just a tagger-along on this journey through Celtic bureaucracy and family history. With no Irish ancestry more recent than a great-great grandfather who married a Swiss seamstress, I have to settle for being a dependant. I can live with that.


27 thoughts on “When Irish ties . . .

        1. Jimmy Shand owe’s me big-time, every Sunday afternoon in Oor Hoose anyone who spoke whilst he was on the radio was earmarked for an early grave, it started with a clout over the head, the punishment got much worse for a second offence, a third offence was later in the day similar to 2 day visit in 1942, to 84 Avenue Foch, Paris. In 1999 the Germans knighted him, it could not have been the Sassenachs surely?


          1. Hi Bob. It was like that in our house during two-way Family Favourites on a Sunday lunchtime. God, I hated Sundays.
            I didn’t realise Shand had been knighted, though looking into it I see it was indeed by the English. You’ve got my foot tapping again. Might have to visit You Tube for a quick strathspey.
            Cheers, Alen


  1. My English are insufficient. You once wrote that you would claim some small island if the UK withdrew from the EU. Shall I understand that you have shelved that idea?
    PS I know this is not a funny situation.


  2. Hi Alen,
    That’s comforting news as my granny was from Northern Ireland and ran away to Glasgow to marry my grandfather. 9 Stewart Street, Clydebank, one of the only row of original tenements the council left standing and restored after the blitz. I never followed it up because I knew she came from the north. You have enlightened me(again), I will ask my brother for more details as he has been delving into the family tree for years. Catch up soon.


    1. Hi John. See, there is hope for all of us. Irish passports, Scottish passports, the avenues are probably endless. I’ll put a link at the bottom for the website on which Anne did all her searches for birth, deaths and marriages. The site also directs you to the agencies where you order the certificates. As it happens, they all arrived here in Orgiva today.
      Cheers, Alen


    1. Hi David. Yes, it’s keeping us busy. We’ve just got all the documents, next stop the passport application. An interesting aside is the stuff you learn about the family along the way.
      Cheers, Alen


  3. It’s all a bit daft really but why would carrying a British passport stop you from traveling or living on the continent? Such strange times we’re living in.


    1. Hi Ash. At the moment it doesn’t. But no one knows (or no one will tell us) what our legal status will be once Article 50 is initiated and Britain’s membership of the EU is terminated. If the worst comes to the worst we might have to move to Ireland. Do you know any good pubs up Antrim way?
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read somewhere that Article 50 doesn’t really mean anything anyway. The lawyer that wrote that particular bit says that article 50 is lawyers gobbledegook for “don’t know what to write here, let’s make something up and scare the s..t of of anyone who might thing about leaving the union and then they won’t question the big fat fees we keep billing the suckers with!” And now someone else is making a fortune out of those same suckers because they want to have a second passport!
        If I go back far enough my ancestors were probably Normans, or Vikings for that matter; what the heck they’re both the same arn’t they? Sod it, I’ve been a European all along!


        1. That’s the way of the world. People’s main concerns are things like reciprocal health care agreements and the EHIC emergency health care card, which might be scrapped once the UK exists the EU. This is still a very murky area, but the alternative is private health insurance at about 200 euros a month. An Irish passport won’t necessarily guarantee these, but it will guarantee the right to residency and to work. Interesting times, eh, and worrying for many people.


  4. What if your wife got the Irish passport and you eventually became a naturalised Spaniard. (Just prior to Spain voting to leave the EU probably.)

    My maternal ancestors are French, but you’d have to wade through a lot of English folk before you hit the continent circa 1600s. (But then you could go back to a Danish princess in the 900s.)

    If I haven’t retired before Britain’s exit of the EU is finalised I’ll be very surprised. 2 years before invoking Article 50, 7 years for all the withdrawal negotiations to complete, that takes me up to . . . 59. Oh, I don’t know. It might sneak through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a thought. People could put a great deal of effort into proving they are entitled to a Liechtenstein passport, for instance, only to discover that Liechtenstein has plans to quit the European Economic Area and close its borders. Fancy being bottled up in that tiny place for the rest of your life. You’d have to take up playing the Alpine horn just to pass the time.
      Thinking about the Danish princess, my maternal grandmother was descended from Norse Vikings, the family name being Satterthwaite. But I see in the Guardian this morning that the Norwegians are considering blocking Britain’s post-Brexit application to join the European Free Trade Association if and when it comes, so a Norwegian passport will be an unpopular move on the Clapham omnibus, or the Preston omnibus come to that. The bolt-holes are closing. Nowhere offers security.
      Cheers, Alen

      Liked by 1 person

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