Why Irish people are KNOWN for their RESILIENCE

Have you ever wondered why Irish people are known for their resilience? In this article, we take a look at some reasons why the Irish have gained a reputation for thriving through adversity.

Why Irish people are KNOWN for their RESILIENCE.

A 2020 study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) at the European Commission makes a pretty bold statement: ‘Irish people are resilient’.

To back this up, they point to an analysis of answers from people living in the EU who were asked to ‘rate their ability to thrive when faced with life’s challenges’.

The study found that over 90% of Irish people had a positive attitude and felt happy and satisfied with life. 94% shared they did not feel lonely, and 92% were in good or very good health.

Inevitably, this will not capture the experience of every Irish person. But why exactly are the Irish people known for their resilience? And how might this resilience have come about?

To answer this, it may be useful to look at the history and culture of the people of Ireland.

Hardship − finding resilience through struggle

The Irish have found resilience through struggle.
Credit: Flickr / William Murphy

Resilience is broadly defined as the ability to be happy and successful again after something difficult or bad has happened. It is well known that the most resilient people are often those who have faced their fair share of struggles.

In the global imagination, Irish people have become associated with friendliness, a sense of humour and ‘craic’.

However, the country has a long history of hardship and has endured centuries of poverty, colonialism and oppression.

In recent times, Ireland’s economy has been doing very well. But this is a relatively new situation. In fact, up until the so-called ‘Celtic Tiger’ in the 1990s, Ireland was one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Ireland has been left with the long shadow of the devastating Great Famine. Between 1845 and 1852, over 1 million Irish people died from the famine. The overall population of the island fell by 20–25% due to death and emigration.

The impact of The Troubles − still felt today

The impact of Troubles is still felt today.
Credit: Flickr/ Kaspar C

In the north of Ireland, the impact of the violence and trauma from The Troubles is still felt today.

There are higher rates of mental health problems among young people in Northern Ireland and a higher rate of PTSD when compared to other post-conflict societies.

Throughout these years of hardship, Ireland has a history of mass emigration. Unfortunately, the struggles people endured did not always stop once they left Ireland.

Irish emigrants often found their new homes less than welcoming and could face intense discrimination.

Even with these struggles, Irish people have shown remarkable resilience. Despite the grief and loss, the Irish have continued to build successful lives in almost every corner of the world.

And closer to home, the statistics from this report show that despite it all, Irish people have managed to overcome adversity and maintain a remarkable level of well-being.

Perhaps this could also be a reason why Irish people are known for their resilience.
Credit: Flickr / Colm MacCárthaigh

It may be surprising when you visit a bustling and lively city like Dublin, but until relatively recently, Ireland was still a predominantly rural country.

In fact, most of the urbanisation we see today only began to ramp up in the mid-1960s. The vast majority of people lived in small, tight-knit communities, often depending on each other for survival.

Although rural living can no doubt bring hardships and challenges, it could also bring about a sense of close community ties.

The landscape of Ireland has changed dramatically in recent years, but the culture of close-knit communities (and often very large and extended families) remains embedded in the experience of many Irish people.

It is well known that people who have stronger social connections with their family, friends, and community are often happier, physically healthier, and live longer than less well-connected people.

Perhaps this could also be a reason why Irish people are known for their resilience.

Good sense of humour − looking on the brighter side of life

A good sense of humour could also be a reason why Irish people are known for their resilience.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The Irish are known for their sense of humour and ‘craic’, one of the key reasons why Irish people are known for their resilience.

Despite the generational hardship that many Irish people have experienced, this often dark and unapologetic humour has continued.

Humour can be a powerful tool when struggling with the ups and downs of life. Although it can’t take away the hardships that occur, it can be a tool to help us manage setbacks and to bounce back.

It is also a way we can connect with others, which in turn can help build the connections that can lead to a sense of community.

In the end, although Irish people are known for their resilience, no one nation is ever simply one thing. Every person will have their own unique challenges and will respond differently to the struggles they face.

However, one thing is for sure: despite the struggles Ireland has faced, the resilience and survival of its people continue to this day.

READ MORE: Why Irish people are known for their humour

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