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we are irish

This Kerry woman was sick of being asked why she looked 'different' - so she set up a project about Irish diversity

“I feel like a broken record when it comes to battling off people who won’t accept me because of the colour of my skin.”

A FEW DAYS ago, journalist and content creator Úna-Minh Kavanagh took a notion and put a call out to her “fellow Irish men and women who don’t look ‘stereotypically Irish’”.


People responded to Úna in their droves and soon she had assembled dozens of Irish people that didn’t fit the ‘stereotypically Irish’ mould.

Earlier this week, she unveiled #WeAreIrish, a neat illustration of just how diverse Ireland really is.

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Úna tells that she was adopted from Vietnam at three days old by a Kerrywoman and has called Ireland home since she was six weeks old. A passionate Gaeilgeoir, she was raised speaking Irish as her first language.

She said she was inspired to start #WeAreIrish after years of being asked tiresome questions like, “But where are you really from?”

As an adopted person of colour, who has not just an Irish birth cert but an Irish passport too, I feel like a broken record when it comes to battling off people who won’t accept me because of the colour of my skin. It’s really exhausting and the real thing is: it’s no one’s business but my own.

She dismisses the notion that it’s a campaign and says that it was “a real spur of the moment notion” that she came up with after discussing the concept of Irish identity with others.

I contacted over 80 Irish people and the collage features over 60, who come from all walks of life. There’s a huge mix of people but to get an idea, some were born here, some have Irish parents and live abroad, some have just one Irish parent and some are adopted like me.


Kavanagh told that many of the submissions were accompanied by troubling stories of racist abuse.

When people were sharing their images with me, many attached their stories and some of the nastiness that the Irish have thrown against their own is appalling.

As for what being Irish means to Una?

For me, being Irish means not being defined by how I look and it means being accepted. It’s an uphill struggle that so many of us face.

For more on #WeAreIrish, follow Una here or check out the hashtag.


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