British people have a “responsibility” to learn the basic facts of Irish history and geography, a teacher has suggested.
History teacher Jennifer Horgan taught for a time in British schools and quickly grew accustomed to her colleagues having a microscopic level of understanding about Ireland.
“Arriving in London, I was met with people who knew nothing,” she recalled to Newstalk Breakfast.
“Like really genuinely had not been taught anything about the history of our two countries.
“So there’s kind of an inevitable clash there that we need to be aware of.”
For the most part, there was nothing malicious about British attitudes to Ireland but Ms Horgan still found the experience upsetting.
“It’s irritating when you feel invisible,” she continued, “when people ask you, ‘Are you from the UK?’ Or people make those jokes about the potato famine.
“Of course that’s really upsetting - especially considering the curriculum we have and the narrative we have.
“So what’s happening here is that our education systems are pitting us against one another and that’s really, really harmful considering our past.”
More seriously, she felt this ignorance manifested itself in the Brexit referendum of 2016 when there was “zero mention of Northern Ireland. That’s a problem.”
Given Ireland and Britain’s unique and complex relationship, she feels there should be a basic level of knowledge about their closest neighbour.
“We’re the only country that has a land border with them,” she said.
“We obviously have an ongoing relationship politically. So I would argue to have some knowledge is actually really important.”
Moreover, she feels the British Empire is something that has faded out of the nation’s consciousness.
“There needs to be a basic understanding of the Empire and the history of the Empire across the country,” she concluded.
“Because there is a responsibility, I think, having been an Empire for people to know about it.”
Main image: Michael Collins speaking in Dublin in 1922. Picture by: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo