I am trying to remember a time when there was, like now, a material advantage to being Irish. To be Irish is to be part of a community of nations bonded in mutual co-operation. To be British, on the other hand, is to be part of a plucky little country which is finding its way in the world and facing the imminent threat of partition.
I grew up with an understanding that being Irish was a spiritual asset, but a drawback in other respects. One could be proud of having been born into the true faith in the land of saints and scholars. That sounds ridiculous now, but my teachers expected pupils to absorb and believe it.
There were both drawbacks and advantages of living in the north. The health and welfare systems were better. My mother was paid a family allowance for me and, though we sniffed at it, the state offered free education.
Being Irish in Northern Ireland was, in some ways, better than being Irish in the south. In other ways, it was worse, for I grew up with an expectation that I would be discriminated against.
I am not sure that I actually was treated as inferior and less entitled, apart from a few incidents that were encounters with lowly, disgruntled jobsworths, rather than with institutions behaving as they were framed to.
Others had it worse, of course.
The charming side of being Irish was that it went down well with young German, American and French women touring on bicycles around Donegal in the 1980s. They had come with notions of the Irish man being naturally poetic and endearing and who was I to contradict them when they came into my tent?
The religious inclination in the Irish was morphing into something more new-agey, more tolerant and more tolerable.
There is this weird phenomenon of people wanting to be Irish. The actor John Hurt thought that, when he went on Who Do You Think You Are?, the researchers would uncover his Irish roots and confirm his deeply held sense of himself. They didn't. That saddened him.
Living for a time in England, I was patronised as "Paddy" and expected to endure Irish jokes.
A lorry driver who gave me a lift laughed when I told him I had been abroad teaching English. "An Irishman teaching English! That's amazing." Sure, we speak it better than the English themselves do, I said.
On other occasions, English people, rattled by the louts who were bombing us at the time, on both sides of the Irish Sea, would take it out on any passing Paddy, as if he wasn't even more likely to be blown up than they were.
The actor Gabriel Byrne tells in his recent memoir, Walking With Ghosts, how he gave up his place in a taxi queue for a group of soldiers and how they, on hearing his accent, laid into him and landed him in hospital.
Today, I am feeling a bit more smug about having an Irish passport for it is also a European passport.
Now, I expect to follow the EU channel at airports, if we ever get to travel again.
Should the notion take me to stick around in any of 27 European countries, I won't need a visa. I'll get free healthcare if I have a heart attack in Tenerife, or Paris, or Berlin.
And while it's unlikely that I will enter into an Erasmus programme now, it's nice to know that it's there for me, or would be if I was younger.
And while there are advantages now to being Irish rather than British, I am free to enjoy them while living in the UK and the diminishing advantages of being British as well.
One of these is that I might get the Covid-19 vaccine a few weeks earlier than I would if I lived in Dublin, though I also need it more urgently living here, where infection rates are higher and the hospitals are full.
Another advantage will be the bragging rights that will accrue if Brexit goes badly and I can whistle and look the other way. I'll say: "You wouldn't listen."
There is a feeling now that we shouldn't gloat about a neighbour's difficulty and that's right, but I think we are entitled to our moment and to observe that an historic derision of the Irish has lost all foundation.
I don't know if any of this brings a united Ireland closer, or pushes it further away.
While being Irish has advantages that Britain gave up, there is no obvious way in which those advantages are further enriched by getting rid of the border, not yet anyway.
And though Britain has finalised a deal with the EU in the past week, there is no reason why the two sides should not negotiate further in the coming years and make a better one.
In four years' time, the Northern Ireland Assembly gets to vote on the protocol governing our trade with Great Britain and might want to make changes to it.
That could develop into a row that would, in its essence, be about the border and Irish identity. We'll see.
What is it to be Irish anyway? Is it to live and have voting rights in the Republic? Tens of millions of people living all over the world cheerfully identify as Irish without having citizenship rights.
Nationalism still refuses to admit that many of the people who identify as Irish here and would never dream of voting for the DUP harbour only shallow sentiments for a united Ireland and would baulk at the disruption of bringing it about.
Brexit could change all that, of course, but in the meantime, if I can be Irish in London, New York or Sydney, I can be Irish in Belfast.
For too long, concerns about identity and the constitution have been commingled and confused with each other. They needn't be.
If being Irish under another jurisdiction comes with no threat of being demeaned, or devalued, then what's the problem?
The only sensible reason for consolidating Irish identity within a single island jurisdiction was in order to strengthen that identity against disadvantage, unless you believe that Patrick Pearse really did create a republic that has a prior right to exist over systems that people now vote for.
For now, the best definition of Irish identity is having an Irish passport, or the right to use it where ever you are. I am happy to have mine today.
It represents much more than a British passport does.