I was speaking to someone yesterday about Ballymun, my home suburb of Dublin. I grew up there and I've spent most of my life there. He asked me if I felt any attachment to it and I said, yes, I increasingly feel a strong attachment to it.
He asked me if there was anything distinctive about Ballymun and I cast about, unsuccessfully, for some kind of tangible distinctiveness. It used to be very distinctive, with its brutalist architecture surrounded by large "green spaces", its roaming gangs of kids, its horses, its van-shops. Now, however, that's all gone, and it's pretty much like any other Dublin working-class suburb.
"No", I had to admit, eventually. "Nothing really."
And yet I feel like a Ballymunner to the tips of my toes. Even the sound of the name is evocative to me, reminding me of Pushkins's excellent couplet:
Moscow; those syllables can start
A tumult in the Russian heart.
I'm also reminded of this O. Henry story, where a snooty cosmopolitan who spends most of the short tale laughing at local pride ends up getting into a bar fight because someone insults his home town.
Maybe all local patriotism is completely irrational.