To be Irish in America is to have at least a vague inkling of the Great Famine. But the role of the English in the Famine is a particularly fraught aspect of Anglo-Irish history. Some go as far as to say the Famine was a genocide against the Irish by the English. I've always been more of "the English government was callous and monstrous" camp, but genocide? I'm not totally sure. I must say, though, I'm interested in Coogan's argument. Perhaps I'll pick up the book.
There is a part of me, though, that is... not ambivalent about Irish history and my Irish ancestry, but a bit conflicted, mostly because there is strong, though not conclusive, evidence that my direct, Y-chromosome, surname line (I have several sets of Irish ancestors) is actually Scots-Irish from Ulster, who had a different history, in many ways, than the Catholic majority, especially vis a vis the English occupation and colonialism. Like, that portion of my ancestors were complicit in the oppression? Which, of course, I don't actually know. Still, the notion bothers me a bit when Irish history comes up.