Or at least the names they like being called. It's simple bad manners to do otherwise. The same principle applies to where they're from.
I'd a fleeting and annoying exchange with Louise Mensch on Twitter the other day, where she, in connection with this article, had said, 'Also, of course, Eire has its own legal code. I don't know if phone hacking is legal in Eire, or if there is a public interest defence there.'
Seemingly, there isn't, but sighing to see any politician making such a basic blunder elsewhere in what she said, I responded: 'When speaking English, Louise, it's normal to call the country Ireland,' and pointing her to article 4 of the Irish Constitution, which says:
'The name of the State is Éire, or, in the English language, Ireland.'
'Since I lived in Dublin,' she replied, 'I've always thought of it as Eire, plus, four letters is more tweet-friendly.'
I conceded the latter point, but thought her main claim absurd, and said so: 'Bizarre. I'm from there and have never once heard anyone in Ireland ever call it that, save when (rarely) speaking Irish.'
At which point someone else weighed in with 'No one in Ireland calls it Eire you ridiculous woman!'
I always find it baffling that English people will sometimes do this when talking of Ireland. I've never noticed them doing it for other countries -- even the most pretentious of them will rarely talk about visiting Deutschland, España, Italia, Hellas, Suomi, Sverige, Nederland, Česko, Polska, Magyarország, Helvetica, or Danmark. They invariably call those countries by the English versions of their names, save on those rare occasions when they're speaking German, Spanish, Italian, Greek or whatever.
All else aside, if Mrs Mensch is going to play this game she should do so consistently, so that instead of saying 'Since I lived in Dublin I've always thought of it as Eire,' she should say, 'Since I lived in Baile Átha Cliath I've always thought of it as Éire'.
So, basic things to remember:
- If you're speaking Irish, say Éire.
- If you're speaking English, you should call the country 'Ireland', because that's its name.
- If you're speaking English and want to distinguish the country called 'Ireland' from the island of 'Ireland', you should call the country 'the Republic of Ireland', this being its description in Irish law, if not the Constitution.
- It's okay to call the country 'the Republic'; it is never okay to call it 'Southern Ireland' or 'the South', unless you want to appear politically and geographically ignorant*, as well as rude.
- It's unwise to refer to Ireland as being part of 'the British Isles', as lots of people will get annoyed at this. Given that the term is simply a corruption of an erroneous ancient term, and that it no longer reflects the political reality it had during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many people find it both obsolete and offensive. Of course, you can use it if you want to come across as insulting and reactionary, but that's up to you.
And in return, I'll refrain from wasting everyone's time by calling the UK 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland' and shan't abbreviate it UKGBNI. I can't speak for anyone else, mind.
* Not least because the northernmost point of the Republic of Ireland is further north than Northern Ireland, and because there's not much more of Ireland north of Cranford Point -- Northern Ireland's southermost point -- in Northern Ireland than there is in the Republic.