s there any phrase that sums up liquid modernity’s destruction of tradition better than “transgender Irish dancing?” Somehow, I doubt it—yet here we are. A recent headline in the Irish Independent announced the latest heritage-flattening victory for trans activists: “Transgender Irish dancers allowed to compete in categories matching their gender identity.” To translate that from gender ideology into non-Orwellian English: “Boys are now allowed to compete against girls in Irish dancing competitions.”
Traditional Irish culture is among the richest in Europe, not least because it survived being suppressed for so long, giving the music and folk dancing a sort of joyful defiance. A few years ago, when I had the privilege of writing Patriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life Movement, I spent time in Ireland for a book tour. One of the heroes of that movement is Niamh Uí Bhriain—she and her entire family have been central to the pro-life fight for decades. Niamh’s father, the late Séamus Mac Mathúna, was a legendary singer and flute player—she wrote about his role in preserving Irish culture several times, and the essays are well worth reading. This is Séamus performing “Mo Ghile Méar” with the James Last Orchestra, Dublin, in 1986:
Spending time with Irish people who were steeped in and passionate about their culture made me envious. Stopping in a pub to eat after a long night of pro-life campaigning, an elderly man began singing an old folk song. Another gravelly voice in the corner joined; within a minute, everyone in the room was singing. Singing was frequent after book tour events, too, and one morning in Dingle, a grey-haired gentleman noticed we were not Irish and insisted on singing us a “song from his village,” which he did beautifully as everyone stopped what they were doing to listen.
That is what a shared culture looks like, and that is one of the reasons it has been particularly depressing to watch Ireland’s swift surrender to ideologies from elsewhere. Indeed, as the Irish Independent reported, the new transgender decision originated in the United States, when a ‘teenage transgender girl’—that is to say, a teenage boy—from America qualified to compete in the upcoming Irish Dancing World Championship: “The success of the dancer, who is understood to have previously competed in a male category, prompted some complaints from parents and discussion within the world of Irish dancing.”