The 12th of October was a cold and windy autumn day in Dublin. It was the day when I and my Irish and German friends headed to the Aviva Stadium to watch a football match – Ireland versus Germany, to be precise. It was the day a small girl looked at me and my friends in disbelief and said “boo” when our friend Dave told her that we were Germans in the Irish block. Shocking, I know. How could German/Irish relations possibly be crushed to this tremendous extent?
Let me take a step back. Let me tell you that, according to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, political relations between our countries are “traditionally friendly”. We are trading partners, and sure, even though the budget leak to the German parliament in 2011 was certainly not one of the brightest moments regarding Irish-German friendship, I feel that there is more to this relationship than political decisions.
Of course, Germany played its part in Ireland’s bailout in 2010, and there are some Eurosceptics in Germany that take the disturbing position that “‘us Germans’ should not pay for the mess ‘you Irish’ made”. These people are, sadly, also among the well-educated sector of German society, as I realised after a speech given by Dominic Hannigan TD in front of around 200 students from the German National Academic Foundation.
However, most Germans love the Irish. We love your easy-going attitude, your pubs, your music, and Ireland’s beautiful landscapes. Everyone in Germany adored when the Irish fans sang “Fields of Athenry” towards the end of the defeat to Spain during the European Football Championships. Even the German TV commentator stopped talking for five minutes straight – as far as I know, that has never happened before.
German media portrays Ireland as Europe’s model student, as the hard working country that gets a grip on its economy – which doesn’t stop TV stations accompanying these news with pictures of old men drinking Guinness, but I guess this is just another well-meaning stereotype: as I said, we love your pubs.
Similarly, many Irish tell me that they love the Germans. I always have a hard time believing this, because I personally am not very fond of typical German virtues. What surprised me as well is how many Irish speak some German. Since I came to Ireland, I have heard many of the sentences you picked up in secondary school and I loved every single one.
Finally, back to the match: Our new small friend was in fact adorable and even though we were somewhat relieved when Germany won, we felt that a 6-1 scoreline was a bit flattering. I guess that’s why we had the best fun when the Irish team finally scored.
What does this say about Irish/German relations? I think it says that we’re grand – there is a lot of room for teasing in this friendship, but, after all, we tease the ones we love.
Sophia Marie Braun