Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Revoking My Plastic Paddy

"I don't tell Irish people that's dad's from Ireland unless it naturally comes up in the conversation."

"Neither do I. Is that because you noticed that everyone seems to have some claim to being Irish?"


Two out of three siblings agree (and I'm sure the other one does too, he just wasn't there) that telling Irish people our family is from Ireland is a dumb way to start a conversation. Eventually it comes out because I always ask where in Ireland they're from and then they're shocked when I call them on the fact that Mayo isn't really 'near Dublin', but I don't meet an Irish person and immediately tell them my family's Irish. Surprisingly, however, a lot of people do and most of those people have never even been to Ireland.

People seem to have a real attachment to being Irish, even when it's been generations since anyone in their family has called Ireland 'home', and it can make it awkward for me to admit that my background is Irish. I'm instantly met with disbelief from any true Irish person or I'm instantly met with a story of some one's great-great-great-grandma who came from Cork (they think) in 1850's (they think) because of the famine (they think) but she passed down her love of Ireland to her children and so on and so forth... and then I understand why Irish people always roll their eyes when someone shouts 'I'm Irish, too!' without a trace of an Irish accent.

My dad being Irish has definitely influenced my Canadian upbringing and I'm proud of my Irish heritage but I'm not Irish.

And unless you were born there, neither are you.


Shannon said...

Alex would totally agree with you - I've heard people harass him because he doesn't consider himself British...because he's Canadian and his mom is British...

On the flip side, when I was in Ireland with my very Irish name (although Shannon is an odd name to most Irish people...who names their kid after a river?) I had a number of people tell me they could hear the Irish in my voice.


Because my great-grandfather who died before I was born was Irish. So I must have picked up his accent that way. Or something. Yeah. No. I'm Canadian. Just Canadian. With Irish and Italian blood.

Also, my grandfather (on the other side of the family) was Irish. It wasn't until I was, oh, in my twenties that I realized that he meant that somewhere, back in the early 1800s or so, some great-great-great-great-etc grandfather of his came to Canada.

Ireland has a pull to it that a lot of other countries don't seem to have -all those non-Irish people who want to be Irish - maybe it's the leprechaun influence!

AndreaClaire said...

Did you go to Ireland when you were living in London? I wonder if you had picked up enough hit in your voice that way?

Leprechaun. Guinness. Who knows why people want to be Irish? ;)

Shannon said...

It was when I was living in London, so maybe that's what it was...who knows! I laughed every time someone thought I was Irish because of my name because my Irish friends tell me that no one in their right mind in Ireland would name their child Shannon!

I think people want to be Irish just because Ireland is cool (and the accent is lovely and the countryside is beautiful)...and St. Patrick's Day is fun...even if most people don't know what the day is all about!

AndreaClaire said...

Maybe I should name my first born 'Liffy' and see how many strange looks I'd get in Ireland :)