People are concerned about how the Republic will vote in the marriage referendum on May 22, but I'm more concerned about Co. Donegal.
Since the foundation of the state Donegal has been the forgotten county, practically cut off from Dublin by a bulbous border, and with a population that's not a statistical threat in any election that's ever called.
Being a long way away, it wasn't worth bothering about in other words. When I was in college a professor once told me, “It doesn't matter how high you climb or how well you succeed, here in Dublin we'll always detect a whiff of the bog off you.”
He meant, I suppose, that I was a bumpkin at birth and would ultimately not be worth bothering about. He lived in the big smoke, in a city that was curiously anxious to prove it was metropolitan and not a rustic backwater.
But one of the greatest things about Ireland, I think, is how completely nature still asserts itself. Even in the city center green shoots are always threatening to sprout in the little laneways. Spores will travel miles to find a window ledge to grow on.
Still, it fascinated me, that south Dublin paranoia, as if everyone who lived five miles past Maynooth was a potential 19th century Famine victim fighting destitution, or a bumptious halfwit who didn't know how to tie his own shoes.
The contemptuous sneering hid their fear, as sneering often does. What they were afraid of, it turned out, were the unsophisticated bogger hordes who would begrudge them their comfortable incomes, their two story prewar piles located down leafy lanes, their ease and social standing, their cast iron entitlement.
If the unwashed culchies got an inkling of how good some had it perhaps they'd return with their picks and shovels to wage another uprising on the state. This was the thing they were worried about. It took me ages to see that it was not snobbery but anxiety that created their attitudes.
Put yourself in their shoes and you'll see why. If you're already very comfortable, you usually don't welcome change. Even if the change makes no discernible difference to who you are or how you live.
It's human nature to resist anything that requires to understand that you're not gifted, that you're just lucky to have been born in the right place with the right connections.
Growing up I used to sometimes fantasize about what my life would have looked like if, instead of being a second (and gay) son from the back of beyond, I had instead been born inside the impregnable Southside fortress of moneyed Irish complacency.
I would probably have joined the GAA or the rugby club early on, I would have gone to an exclusive school, we would have had prominent political and religious leaders around for dinner and I would probably have made great friends whose helpful fathers were the leaders of our financial and business world.
I would have met a nice girl from a good home at the Trinity Ball, I imagine. We would probably have bought a fixer upper in Ranelagh or Kimmage. Along the way we would have found jobs and promotions without a threat of emigration.
There would be nothing in my little world that needed fixing, and nothing outside of it that was worth bothering my head about. I don't have to imagine what kind of self-regarding little so and so I would have turned into, because my Twitter feed is alive with their howls of protest now.
Why should they change something as exclusive as marriage to include the excluded, they shout at me, often in capital letters so I get their point. Who do I think I am, asking for an equal shot when the law is as it is, and nature is as it is, and tradition is what it is, and those are the breaks?
“I have nothing against the gays,” said a man from my town on radio this week.
Then he outlined what he had against the gays: “They're trying to fundamentally change the whole cornerstone of civilization here, the family unit,” he claimed.
But they're actually not. No one is going to break down your door and force you, your wife and your children into work LGBT camps in a new fascist state. Gays are not ISIS (ISIS kills gay people). You won't be any less married to your wife the day after the marriage referendum passes.
Up in Donegal we know that nature is generous and that it takes many forms, including male and female, straight and gay. The little spore that is myself had to travel 3,000 miles over a wide ocean to finally take root and find welcoming soil.
I would really, really like it if the next gay Donegal kid that comes along there has a less difficult flight path. That's what this referendum is about, and that's all it is about.