Kiss My Blarney Stone

I just read the article What Does it Mean to be Irish? in the latest Newsweek.  This is a question that could be asked about any culture or race, but it struck a cord with me because there are regions of me that are Irish, and I really have no idea what that means.  It still isn’t very clear, but here you go.  Colm Toibin ponders the rather rabid differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (which is the rest of it).  Northern Irish identify with Britain, except when it comes to rugby.  “They feel a closer allegiance to the flags, emblems, and heritage of the neighboring island, or perhaps even to Scotland,” Toibin writes.  What seems to rescue peoples’ identity is the hyphen, he maintains.  For example, I could consider myself Irish-Welsh-Swedish-American.  Or, for fun and stereotypes, I am a drinking, fighting, singing, polo-playing, clogging, consumer.  I think I like that better.

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One Response

  1. I was drawn to your article by its title. My boyfriend’s grandfather just went on a vacation overseas, and one of the experiences he told to us was “kissing the blarney stone”. He explained the significance to us last night, as neither of us had heard it before.
    I understand your confusion of heritage. I also have a somewhat mixed background, but have never felt like I identify with any of the identities. I am mostly German, but really don’t know any of our family history relating to it. Being “American” is a concept that I have never really understood, because America, being so new comparitively, seems to not have an identity of its own, but a mix of all the people who have congregated in it. Then I think of people like my mother, who is “American”, but was born and raised in Japan. She identifies with that culture since she grew up there, but isn’t Japanese. Identity is such a complex concept…

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