Loving the Irish and Ireland
We’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Miss Demeanors by sharing what we love about the Irish/Ireland. My family is from Scituate, Massachusetts, the town considered to be the most Irish in America. I love St. Patrick’s Day and all things Irish including parades, fiddles, politics, dry wit, freckles and red hair, Irish writers, root vegetables, whiskey, Guinness, and most of all the storytelling. One story goes like this. My grandmother, clearly a woman of a certain age, was pushing me when I was an infant in a carriage down Front Street in Scituate when she happens upon Mayor James Michael Curley, the Irish-American mayor/rogue of Boston, known for “Vote often and early, said James Michael Curley.” “Ah, you’ve had another one, Madeline,” he says with a straight face, bending over to kiss me and bless me with the gift of blarney forevermore Alexia: What don’t I love about Ireland? I set my novels there, after all. I’m an avowed Hibernophile.Where, oh where to begin? I love Irish whiskey, with Midleton Barry Crockett, Bushmills 21, and Connemara Peated being at the top of the list (Full disclosure: I love whiskey/whiskey, from a variety of countries but the aforementioned are among my all-time favorites.), Irish pubs (and pub food), Irish music, Irish festivals, Irish dance, Irish wolfhounds (although I don’t have room for one), Irish cottages, Irish fishermen’s sweaters, Irish folklore, Irish accents, red hair (not strictly Irish but I love it), Irish names (even the unpronounceable-by-American-tongues Gaelic names), the Irish language (Gaelic sounds beautiful spoken. I understand none of it), Irish slang (I want to tell some feckin’ eejit to stop acting the maggot), Gaelic football (I am not a sports fan, so that’s saying a lot), Irish soda bread, Waterford crystal … You get the idea. I don’t know why I’m such a fan of all things Irish. I’m not Irish (Well, mostly not. Ancestry’s DNA test says I’m 14% Irish but I was a Hibernophile long before I took the test.), I didn’t grow up in or near an Irish neighborhood, my first trip to Ireland was as an adult. I can’t explain it but I do enjoy it. Paula: I love Ireland, too. My family is mostly Alsatian, but my maternal grandmother Peg always insisted that she was Irish. No one believed her, but as it turns out she was right. Our Clancy and Couch ancestors came to the United States in the 1820s. Which explains my long fascination with the country: its literature, its history and mythology, its culture, and its people. Years ago, when a YA editor asked me to pick a country and set a story there, I chose Ireland (Emerald’s Desire, long out of print), and happily indulged my passion for Celtic lore and legend. I finally got to visit Ireland seven years ago, when my daughter met me in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day. I loved everything about that city, but my favorite place was the Dublin Writers Museum: Swift and Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett, the list goes on and on. If you’re ever there, don’t miss it! Cate: You know you’re Irish when you can’t make a story short. This joke about the Irish fit my father’s Irish American family and it applies to me. Perhaps that’s why I left journalism for novel writing.Here’s a little story that I’ll try to make short. When I was a kid, my grandparents did a fair amount of traveling. Every country that they visited, they would bring back a doll–except for Ireland. When they went to Ireland, they would bring back a box of peat and tell us that our people were from there and I was to plant something inside of it. Dolls ultimately became cracked, dead things. But the plants would blossom. So, in my head, Ireland is associated with life and growth. Robin: This one is easy – my mom. Her father (my grandfather) was the son of Irish immigrants. I haven’t been to Ireland yet but I have been to other parts of the U.K. (England and Scotland). Ireland is on my short list for future destinations. Susan: I have to confess that I’ve spent a good part of my life explaining that I do NOT have an Irish heritage. When your last name is Breen and your husband comes from Boston and your daughter went to Boston College, it’s implied. But I’m only Irish via an over-enthusiastic clerk at Ellis Island. That said, I love Irish story-tellers, Irish whiskey, Irish dancing and my many Irish friends, who are hell-raisers one and all. Tracee: Is this a ploy to get me to read James Joyce? If not, then you’ve caught me out. Ireland, a subject on which I have no opinion. I’ve been to England but not Ireland (or Scotland or Wales for that matter) and while I have an image of a beautiful rolling green landscape in my mind, that’s it. I look forward to learning what I’ve missed and perhaps exploring some of your favorite bits about the Emerald Isle (that is what it’s called?). What do you love about the Irish/Ireland?