Sunday, June 19, 2016

Together at last …

Irish literature, Irish rebellion, and the lost art of letter writing – Notes on Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The talk has brought up a lot of feelings and ideas for me, though I can’t see the full shape of them yet. I grew up in a very Irish-Catholic world, attending Catholic church and school in an overwhelmingly Irish-American parish, and my own ethnic background is largely Irish as well, though my name is German, which was enough to mark me as a kind of outsider in my little community. (That and the fact that my German-named father, who was at least half Irish anyway, was not Catholic: unthinkable!) My mother, who was the one who handed down Catholicism to us and who had grown up with the Irish name and background, always showed disdain for the ethnic pride the large Irish families in our parish seemed to have, and I see now that her distaste came from a kind of shame. It was another facet to my feeling like an outsider to the community I grew up in, which ironically (or inevitably, I guess) has at times made me feel desperate to understand it and get closer to it. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out how Irish I really am.
My English surname notwithstanding, I am more than half Irish and the parish where I was baptized was an Irish one. I was never made to feel an outsider by my Irish friends, and I loved Ireland when I visited there. Like my Catholicism, I regard my Irishness as an essential note of my facticity, comprising many of the major ingredients of who I am.

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