Oct 27

IDENTITY: Who Do We Think We Are?

Follow the Identity Series Latest Article:

Identity beyond Notions of Race here



What Others Are Saying About the Identity Series

“… a valuable–and provocative–challenge to the dominant narrative”

The Little Museum @dublinmuseum

“Fascinating Website”

Non-Stop Connolly @NonStopConnolly

“… a good read”

Staten Ireland Fair @StatenIreland

“A great series of articles …”


NOTE The average session duration for this website is 6.2 minutes (9.2 minutes Ireland)

The Identity Series is based on Shelter and Shadows which is in Editor’s books selection (Irish Roots Magazine)foront-cover-300-dpi-jpg for final quarter 2016


The Series explores identity from a genealogical perspective

The Series consists—basically—of one published article per month (to the end of 2017). Twenty articles have been published to date.

An overview of the approach is provided in the next post (below) and this is followed by The Story So Far … which describes how the Articles fit together.

Oct 17

IDENTITY – The Gerald Keogh Identity Series

The Approach

We decided to add a “navigation bar” (image below) to make the Series EASIER TO FOLLOW.

We are reminded, however, that exploration of “Identity” does not lend itself to easy solutions.

Compass Nav

The Series is framed round Shelter and Shadows (book link here) which describes the lifetime quest of one individual to resolve his cultural dilemma and discover his true identity. The prime focus, therefore, is on the individual—but the narrative moves swiftly to grapple with the meaning of identity at other levels too.

The discussion weaves along the following trajectory: (the individual) > (parents-family) > (society-culture-nation) > (geographical [DNA] links) > (human origins). Any individual can follow his/her links into and along this gradient. We are all “… part of the living rim of a species that traces its origins, through the dead spokes of its ancestors, to a common hub” (Shelter & Shadows).

The Power of Contradiction 

The key to understanding the Series’ entire course of exploration is–paradoxically–CULTURAL INCOMPATIBILITY. Incongruity gives the whole process impetus. It generates the questions. It animates the quest. It prompts the deconstruction of falsehood. It—eventually—proposes a solution to one of the most stubborn dilemmas facing humanity: What is “identity” at the personal and communal levels?

GKIS #4a

Cultural incompatibility within the family (as per example in Shelter & Shadows) forces the narrative to be expressed as two conflicting lines (Gaelic and Old English) running parallel to each other (top image), rather than one harmonious process. The ESSENCE of the entire struggle of the Series is to try and resolve the dilemma of—apparent—split identities and, out of this, re-create a unitary line. The final solution is surprisingly simple but has extraordinary consequences for us all.

The purple arrow marks—in rough terms—where the discussion is at. This will change as new Articles and Links are added.

Simplistic Solutions 

In the top image is the (female) > ([Old]-English) > (fleur de lis) line. An early solution to the dilemma of cultural incompatibility in Shelter and Shadows was simply: IGNORE IT!

In facing a similar dilemma, the young Irish State went one step further: it latched onto the convenient 18th century catch-phrase which indicated that the descendants of English colonisers became … more Irish than the Irish themselves (Article #4 here).


Gaelic roundhouses

Kilkea 2

Old English castle

But, as we see from article #4, many characteristics separated the Gaelic Irish from the Old English. This leads to the conclusion that: in any new quest to re-define the concept of “identity”, it is prudent to be skeptical of easy solutions.

How Things Fit Together

An interpretation of how the Articles fit in with each other, up to this point, is provided in the NEXT POST (below).


Sep 01

Identity Articles

A forgotten native urban society in the 1950

Native urban identity

The Story So Far …

In exploring identity, The Gerald Keogh Identity Series begins with the clash of traditions. It may be the accidental collision of potent national symbols (e.g. Irish v. Anzac in article #1). Or it may be internal conflicts at the individual level that arise as a result of incompatible inherited cultural memes (article #5).

Messy Cultural Entanglements 

The Series acknowledges that we are dealing with messy cultural entanglements—be they at the individual, national or international levels.

The young Irish State simplified the process and opted for a culturally pure nation based on an inflated sense of connectivity of all Irish men and women to Gaelic Ireland. This resulted in an outlandish sense of identity (articles #2 & 3). Indeed, it is wise to be skeptical of easy solutions (article #4).

A Potent Force

Articles #6 and #7 deal with a sub-culture that was not recognised in Irish history: The Dublin native middle-class. It was not recognised, despite the fact that James Joyce was its prime representative in terms of artistic cultural expression (article #8).

The native urban middle-class had deep roots in traditional Gaelic culture (articles #9). And Gaelic Ireland was the source of powerful Celtic symbolism, imagery, myths and legends which succeeded in gathering about them the men and women who ignited the Irish independence movement.

In article #10 it was postulated that part of the reason why the Celtic milieu was so potent a force related to the connectivity it evoked between contemporary society and its primordial roots in the unspoiled environment of the Irish landscape.

Could it be that human identity is best understood and defined within pristine biological environments in which primeval societies are embedded? This theory was untested. Articles #11 and #12 explain how the desire to confirm the hypothesis morphed into an expedition to the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

The outcome of the expedition was surprising. It became clear that we cannot arrive at a true definition of identity if any factor—past or present—that contributes to our makeup, is omitted. This prompted Raymond to face the thorny problem of his hybrid identity (articles #13 and #14 here) which led to a more basic question: what is identity? (articles #15 and #16 here). An objective definition of identity is provided in article #17 here. In article #18 personal identity is explored here. #19 examines identity and ethnicity here; #20 looks at race here

The Coming Articles

The coming articles of the Series examine the consequences of adopting objective definitions of personal identity and communal identity.

Apr 30

Who was Gerald Keogh?

Who was Gerald Keogh after whom the Series is Named?

Gerald Keogh

Volunteer Gerald Keogh


Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh was killed at dawn on Easter Tuesday 1916 by Anzac troops defending Trinity College Dublin. His eldest brother, J. Augustus Keogh—who lived in London where he was stage manager at the Royalty Theatre—on hearing of his brother’s death, immediately made moves to return home. He convinced W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory that he was well qualified to become manager of the Abbey Theatre in the aftermath of the troubles and, indeed, the troubles which the Abbey had with its former manager, St John Ervine.

Being an aficionado of G. B. Shaw, J. Augustus gave this playwright a valuable theatrical presence in Dublin after Shaw had criticised the execution of the 1916 Irish leaders. Shaw’s box-office appeal in England slumped but Dublin audiences were swamped with his works.

This is how an Anzac bullet came to boost Shaw’s theatrical presence in Dublin in 1916.

Our Facebook Page also carries more about this little-know story of the Easter Rising.

A photo of J. Augustus is shown (below left). Also shown is a photo of Michael McHugh (Anzac sharpshooter—of Irish descent) who was among the troops that gunned down Gerald in Grafton Street.

Joseph A Keogh eldest brother of Gerald Keogh

J. Augustus Keogh



McHugh allegedly killed Gerald Keogh

Michael McHugh

The poignancy of Gerald’s death is captured in the song Digger in Dublin composed by songwriters Kevin McCarthy and Geoff McArthur in which Mick McHugh laments his part in the killing of Gerald.

LISTEN below:







1916: Incredible meeting as families on opposite sides reconcile after 100 years at the foot of Grafton Street

(24/04/16. No Repro Fee) *** Easter Rising Families Reconcile after 100 Years *** Patrick McHugh born in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia and Raymond Keogh from Bray, County Wicklow met at Trinity College today 23rd April in advance of the unveiling of a plaque by Dublin City Council (on Monday 25th April 2016) to commemorate the death of Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh, Raymond’s grand-uncle, who was shot outside Trinity College on 24th April 1916, reputedly by Australian soldier (Anzac trooper) Mick McHugh, great-great-uncle of Patrick, during the Easter Rising 1916. Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh and Australian trooper Mick McHugh were both young soldiers of the same age (22) but on opposite sides in the 1916 Rising. Mick was ordered to defend Trinity College during Easter week. Mick is reputed to have killed Gerald while the Irish Volunteer was carrying out direct orders from Patrick Pearse. PICTURED: Patrick McHugh and Raymond Keogh meet for the first time in front of the tower in Trinity college where it is alleged that Patrick's great great uncle shot Raymond's grand-uncle outside Trinity College on 24th April 1916. PIC: Joe Keogh.

Patrick McHugh born in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia (left) and Raymond Keogh from Bray, County Wicklow (right) met at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) where their relations were involved in fatal combat on opposing sides of the 1916 Rising.

Raymond’s grand-uncle Irish Volunteer Gerald Keogh was shot at the foot of Grafton Street outside TCD on 25th April 1916 (Anzac Day) reputedly by Australian trooper (“Digger”) Mick McHugh, great-great-uncle of Patrick.

Mick was ordered to defend TCD during Easter week and is reputed to have killed Gerald while the Irish Volunteer was carrying out direct orders from Patrick Pearse. Full story here

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