Who Do You Think You Are?

I’m American.  Born here.  Lived here.  Love it here.

Being American, a caucasian American at that, means my family did not originate from here.  Doesn’t mean I love America any less.  Some of my family tree here in America goes back only a couple of generations.  Some of my family tree here goes back a couple of hundred years.

I happen to strongly identify with my Irish heritage.  Why?  Mostly because that is where the majority of my ancestral trackings take me.  Which is just fine by me.

Why wouldn’t I want to identify with Ireland?   For such a small piece of acreage it holds and retains it’s history like no other.  Ever hear of the Pyramids of Egypt?  Of course.   Now you need to go learn yourself some history about New Grange, of the Boyne Valley.  Do you know of the kings of England?  Of course you do.  How about Brian Boru.   Do you want to identify with a strong and powerful woman? Ireland’s own Granuaile, Grace O’Malley, Grainne Mhaul, the Bald One, is no one to ignore.  I could go on, but the history of Ireland is free to those who want to pursue it.  It’s full of history.  Drama.  Horror.  Triumph.

Most countries have their own special beauty.  Most, or at least many, countries have those who are willing to sacrifice their own lives for the protection of and the freedom of their homeland.

Ireland has something else.  It has a world wide infatuation with it’s beauty and it’s, well, Irishness.

And there is a strong affection here in America for Ireland.   Just hearing an Irish accent/dialect here in the states sets my heart a twittering.

I’ve been to Ireland.  I love Ireland.  I adore Ireland.

Why is anyone in Ireland upset because people outside of Ireland identify with her so strongly?  I’m not sure why Donald Clarke is so opposed to people in America (or anywhere else?) celebrating Ireland.  “Ludicrous?”  Perhaps some of the partying is ludicrous when done in the name of Ireland.  But that isn’t about Ireland, that’s about the partiers.  He takes incidents and interactions with a few and now we are all claiming things that are not so.

I was not born in Ireland.  But I love Ireland.  I have Irish roots.  Strong Irish roots.  Strong Irish roots that make me a little jealous of not being born in Ireland.  I’ve stood at the grave of my great grandfather with my cousins, yes cousins, born in Ireland and living there still.  I have often thought of the families left in Ireland who lost family members to America or other destinations.  How those families must have been torn, those who watched family leave, and those who waved goodbye as they left their family behind.

I can say I am “Irish” knowing full well that means my heritage is of Ireland roots.  I love that.  I want to know the history of Ireland when my grandparents lived there.  I want to know what they lived through.  How they lived.  How they survived.  Managed.  Existed.   But I also want to know the same things of my ancestors who lived just thirty miles from where I live now.  Who, for generations, lived in America.  I want to know how they managed.  Existed.  Survived.

I love the beauty and the history of Ireland.  I love the generosity of the people I have met.  I love the people who I never knew who shared their own history of Ireland with me.  I love the Chief Of Security in a Northern town’s courthouse who saw us standing on a corner, approached us.  Obviously we were not “born there”.  He loved his town, his nation, and he shared the heartwrenching history with us.  Showing us his courthouse.  Pointing us to the memorial down the street.  I love the people who stop us to talk to us about America.  And compare our lives with theirs.

I would never want to offend anyone by loving their country.

But it sounds like he doesn’t love it too much anyway.