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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2004 (January-March) » Silly Yanks « Previous Next »

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Gavin (144.141.194.4 - 144.141.194.4)
Posted on Monday, August 18, 2003 - 10:26 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I thought I would share this story with you, it is both funny and sad at the same time...

I come from the Midwest of the United States, but having said that one would never guess by my rather strong (or so I am told) Belfast accent. My family moved here when I was little and I guess it just stuck with us.

I was in one of the Irish theme pubs in California with my family visiting a friend of mine when some people began to dance and sing. One of the waitors asked me if I would sing a song for them after taking my order and hearing me speak.

I never being one to refuse a good time agreed. And in the middle of "Raglan's Road" a little girl no older than six or seven came up to the stage area. When I was done the little girl said loud enough for the microphone to broadcast to everyone, "why aren't you wearing a dress?"

I told her quite simply, "Because I am not a girl."

She looked at me rather confused and said, "My daddy says boys from 'scoch-lan' wear dresses made of sheep."

I couldn't help it I starting laughing out loud and asked..."Well if they wear dresses, then what do boys from Ireland wear?"

She thought about it for a second, then smiled, and said, "Clovers" and ran back to her table.

Everyone in the room laughed a good ten minutes or so on that one.

I don't think our accent sounds all that scottish but for some reason people here in the States seem to think otherwise.

Gavin

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Dawn (66.19.56.77 - 66.19.56.77)
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 12:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

That's a cute story Gavin. :)

I used to have a much harder time distinguishing between Scottish and Irish accents before I met anyone from those countries and began listening to their tv/radio programs. You could compare it to the difference between Americans and Canadians or the English and Australians. The stronger the accent, the easier it is to place a person. What has amazed me is that from time to time I hear an Irishman speak who seems (to me) to have almost no accent at all. I wonder what part of Ireland they are from and how much influence their people had on Midwestern American English.
Did you not give up your accent then, Gavin? I've known people who did, when they were children, because they were teased at school. I understand it, especially if they are planning on living the rest of their lives in the U.S., but it's also sad when they are humiliated into never using (and therefore losing) their accent altogether.

Dawn

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Gavin (144.141.194.4 - 144.141.194.4)
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 05:00 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well...

I never really realized I had an accent until I started going to school.

When you live in an isolated farm area there isn't much interaction with people outside the family.

I was really given a hard time in school...first I was the strange kid that people left alone, then I was one everyone made fun of, then as time went on I became the cool guy all the girls wanted to listen to. So it payed off in the end I guess.

I think my teachers had the hardest of times with me. Especially my English teachers! How I speak and the way College English thinks, let's just say it is a battle not for the weak.

The funny thing is that they say that the more rural the Irish person the thicker the accent, but mother is from the heart of the city and I think her accent is the thickest of all of us. Even I use to question where she come from sometimes...

I just hate how here in the States some people tend to think that all of Ireland has the same accent. And if we don't sound like the Lucky Charms character, then we must not be Irish.

Gavin

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Dawn (66.19.56.125 - 66.19.56.125)
Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - 10:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Yes...isn't it sad how quickly the knowledge of our heritage can be lost. Forty million people of Irish decent in the U.S., and yet so many of us have only recently discovered the rich heritage we possess. I'm afraid I used to be one of the ignorant Americans you described. I figure that I am approximately 1/4 Irish, but I was raised with almost no understanding of what that should mean to me. By the time of my generation, being Irish had been reduced to meaning that we wore green and had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. I didn't even know who St. Patrick was! I always envied people who had a strong sense of cultural heritage, and I felt an emptiness inside that, as a child, a didn't know how to fill. So I just decided that some day I would have to look up who St. Patrick really was.....

Several years later I was sitting on the living room floor watching a show on tv called Riverdance. One of the reasons I wanted to watch it was to see if I could find in it what I was looking for - something of a lost identity. It wasn't until half-way through the program that it really hit home. This was my heritage! MY heritage. Even now that reality hasn't completely sunken in. I've had sooo much to learn, but I love it! Videos, books, radio, cd's, and now this site- I can't get enough of it. In fact, I REALLY should be doing something else right now, other than adding posts here so.....

slán go fóill!

Dawn

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Oliver Grennan (217.155.45.122 - 217.155.45.122)
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 08:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Well, it was hard for people in the old days to leave the small villages where they grew up and go to another continent. There was a lot of heartbreak hidden under the silence and I guess the prevailing attitude was not to dwell on the past or rake up old sorrows but to focus on the future.

Trying to maintain two identities is hard going.

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Dawn (66.19.56.120 - 66.19.56.120)
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - 11:34 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I hadn't really thought about it from that perspective, although it seems obvious. I can't imagine how difficult it was to leave everything behind, with little or no hope of ever returning again. However, I believe that the sense of "Irishness" being lost in my family was in part due to the German side simply being more dominant. It hasn't helped either that I never lived very close to any of my relatives. In any case, though, it is lamentable to lose all of that history and culture.

As far as my identity, I wouldn't want my statement above to be misunderstood. I know who I am - I am an American. I love being an American. I love American history. I love what Americas stands for. But there is so much richness that exists in the world outside of America, and in discovering it, I thought I might as well start with my own past. After all, you can't have a future if you have no past!

Thanks for the insight, Oliver,
Dawn

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Tomás (159.134.163.40 - 159.134.163.40)
Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 08:10 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I don't mean to offend, but after reading down through these posts i feel that the Irish/american's have a very different sense of Ireland to the one us Irish have. Ireland is a country which fought for 700 years for independence. Ireland is a country with a rich cultural heritage which has survived years of surpression by a foreign invader. our national language has nearly been wiped out, and Americans have this darby o'gill image of Ireland.

gavin's post is a prime example of what we put up with every day here. ie; American tourists asking you have you seen a leipreachán lately!!!! this is something that really needs to be addressed as we find this very offensive! The girl in his anecdote is the next generation of "silly yanks" which will invade Ireland with their roars of " oh my gaaawdd! it's Irrrrish!" or " look! they've chocolate in Irrrrrrelannd!" (yes these are common phrases used by American tourists in Ireland)
I do hope none of you are taking offence at what i am trying to say in my rant here? I love Ireland, Modern, Progressive Ireland, I love Gaeilge, and use it as much as I can. I also love our many American cousins, those who have their heads out of very dark places, and know what real ireland is like! I hope you all come to Ireland soon. Agus bí ag caint i nGaeilge.
sorry if I have offended anyone, I didn't mean to, but it had to be said.

Slán
Tomás

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PAD (12.89.129.101 - 12.89.129.101)
Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 - 09:40 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Thomais - Is everyone in Ireland as broadminded as you?

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 04:19 am:   Edit Post Print Post

A Thomáis, a dhuine chóir,

Lonnaigh mo shúil ar do scéalasa. Bhuail mé suas ansin go bhfeicfinn céard a las do chuid feirge. Caithfidh mé a rá nach bhfaca mé lá dochair in alt ar bith ann.

Thairis sin, The girl in his anecdote is / a little girl no older than six or seven. Ní fheicim fáth ar bith le cailín mar í a ionsaí ar bhun na plátála. (stereotyping) Tharla nach gcuireann turasóirí Mheiriceá ceist orm, riamh, in am ar bith, ó thús deireadh na bliana, faoin aos sí, faoi na lúchorpáin, faoin mbean sí, ná tada mar iad, is mo mheas féin nár mhiste duit staidéar beag a ghlacadh arís ar an méid thuas ar fad.

Mise le gach dea-mhéin,

Seosamh

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Julia (12.92.111.35 - 12.92.111.35)
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 08:56 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tomas,

Well now, you've answered one question for me. I was in Ireland recently (second trip) and I couldn't imagine who was buying all those "Irish" knick-knacks that are in so many of the stores. I would be embarrassed to bring home a leprechaun myself, but it must be for all those other silly Americans. At least take comfort in the fact that they're helping keep the Irish Tiger roaring at least a little.

Maybe you can help me with another question. What do people there really think about those of us who come visit because we want to see what our ancestors left. On our last trip, we rented a house in a valley just north of Doolin, and all I wanted to do was just sit there and look at what was around me. What I wouldn't give to be able to do that forever...and I wondered, how difficult it must have been for my great-grandparents to leave it...or maybe not, if they were hungry and desperate. And I am thankful that I was never put into that position ( but then again Bush has two more years in office so you never know.) Unfortunately for me, I'll never really know what they felt and why they left but I'm still going to try and understand. I'm reading as much of the history as I can and you may think this foolish, but being there and touching the remains of a crumbling cottage helps makes the horrors of what happened in Ireland easier for my daughter, and myself, to understand. But thanks to progress, alot of that part of our history is being destroyed. Somehow, even I think that my ancestors would find it hard to be sentimental about crumbling buildings, so maybe we are all silly Americans.

So Tomas, I think you're a very fortunate man, living there and having the chance to be surrounded by all that is and was Ireland. Don't mind us coming to visit every now and then and please don't paint us all with the same brush. Who the heck is Darby O'Gill anyway?

Julia

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Jim (165.123.243.168 - 165.123.243.168)
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 12:24 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I feel I must weigh in. I lived in Dublin in the summer of 1988 (from June to August). I worked at an Abrakebabra and rented a flat in Rathgar. I'm from Philadelphia. I met a wide variety of people there - French, Algerian, Italian, Portuguese... the list goes on.

My co-workers there sounded an awful lot like Tomás. They were constantly telling me of the American tourists, wearing green and saying,"Hi!" and asking about Leprechauns. Not ONCE, of the Americans that I had occasion to meet (and I met many at places such as Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy, Kilmainham Jail, the Boyne River valley,etc.), did I see the characteristics portrayed in previous posts! I know I'm not like that. Yes, we went to Blarney Castle, but more to find out the history of it, than to kiss the Blarney Stone. Incidentally, we were outnumbered at least 2 to 1 by Italian tourists there.

I said it then and I'll say it now, that is a stereotype and it is very divisive. It serves no other purpose than to alienate many American citizens, many of whom are 2 and 3 generations removed from Ireland. Why travel to a country whose citizens see you as boisterous, annoying, Yuppie buffoons?

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James (199.112.55.122 - 199.112.55.122)
Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 - 01:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

OK. Here's my 2 cents on this issue. Tomás is dead on as far as I'm concerned. We Americans are horrible tourists, as a general rule. I've traveled the world over (Korea, Germany, El Salvador, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Kenya.....just to give you and idea) and I've not seen many nationalities that can top us in our brashness, pushiness...give it to me now approach. Believe me. It pains me to say it but my wife and I have been embarassed to be Americans more than once.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very proud of being an American. Anyone who's been on this site for more than a year or two will attest to how quickly I'll defend America (And my legitimate Commander In Chief....sorry Julia...the guy's doing OK in my book). But, collectively, as a culture we are really obnoxious. Maybe not so much as the French but WOW are we easy to identify in a crowd!!!

Now, having said that...It doesn't take much to tone it down. Be concious that you are a guest in another country (regardless of where you are) be respectful of customs and ask insightful questions. "Have you seen a leprechaun?" would not be insightful...perhaps inciteful but not insightful. "What is the origin of the leprechaun in Irish folklore?" might be a better approach. Kiss the Blarney Stone???? Sad to say...I've done it. Toured the Blarney Castle and read the signs as gaeilge as a means of learning more about the language...well, I've done that too!

I'm rambling. Sorry. All I'm saying is that as a nation, as a culture, we sure could stand to tone it down a bit when overseas. Heck, in today's world it's just plain prudent from a security and safety standpoint.

Le Meas,

James

P.S. Darby O'Gill scared the pee out of me as a kid!! The Banshee gave me nightmares for a week!

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julia (12.91.184.92 - 12.91.184.92)
Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 08:48 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James,

Tá brón orm. Bhris mé mo riail féin: riamh uile do comhrá a dhéanamh faoin bpolaitíocht. Bhí sé mí-oiriúnach.

Le meas, Julia

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James (199.112.55.122 - 199.112.55.122)
Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 12:08 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Julia, Mo Chara:

No need for apologies. That's what makes America great! I like the guy and you don't...that's perfectly OK in my book. You are correct though, this isn't the forum for politics. The error is just as much mine however, for rising to the ocassion.

Ard Mheas,

James

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Tomás (159.134.162.102 - 159.134.162.102)
Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2003 - 06:46 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

(1) darby o' gill is a hollywood stereotype of an Irishman.

(2) I was not being stereotypical, I was making a point!

(3) I have the greatest respect for the son's and daughters of Ireland who return to trace their roots, and look up surviving family! Julia, I think that you were dead right to leave the leipreacháns in Ireland! Return to doolin, it's a beautiful place. I hope you were able to trace your family, and as you said you could be seeking refuge here soon enough (George War Bush).

(4) A Sheosamh, Ní raibh mé ag "stereotyping" bhí mé ag caint faoi rudaí a ndearna na Meireacháinigh, nuair a bhíonn siad in Éirinn! Táim ag obair i siopa bheag, agus tháinig siad isteact ag cuireadh ceisteanna dom mar: "where are the leipreachán's?" agus ag magadh no chomhoibrí: "oh you're a real Irish cailín" (Tá dath dearg ar a ghruaige). Ach is iad na ndaoine a tháinig ins na busanna. Tá muintir eile anseo, na ndaoine ata ag lorg a chlann, agus de ghnáth bhíonn siad ceart go leor. I mo thuairim tá na " irish/americans" an- deas, ach is iad na ndaoine ins na mbusanna atá ag magadh na hÉireannigh.
Níl fhois agam cad a cheapann tú faoi mo thuairim. agus tá an-bhrón orm mar na mbotún sa bpíosa seo.
Le meas,
Tomás

(5)James the whole country has kissed the blarney stone, I hope you did it, It's an interesting tradition that i have been meaning to look into!

Slán
Tomás

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James (199.112.55.122 - 199.112.55.122)
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 01:51 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Julia,

Darby O'Gill was a movie done by Disney Studios back in the '60's. It's all about some old guy and a running feud he has with a leprechaun king. There's a whole lot of "shamrockery" in it but one must keep in mind that the intended audience was definitely NOT adults. This is a Disney film, after all!

One particular scene had Darby on his death-bed and the Banshee came to his door to carry him away. This was absolutely terrifying to me and most of my friends at the time. Of course, now the special effects are a bit dated but at the time it was really scary stuff!!!

The lasting legacy of the film is that any stereotyping of the Irish gets the Darby O'Gill reference.

Le meas,

James

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Julia (12.91.186.84 - 12.91.186.84)
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 10:07 am:   Edit Post Print Post

James,

Ah, in the 60's I was "too old" for Disney movies so that's why I missed it, thank goodness. As thanks for letting me know, let me recommend a book to you that I'm in the midst of now...A Crock of Gold by James Stephens. It might be hard to find, but my library in No. Va. actually had a copy so it might not be impossible. It was written in 1912 and it is a humourous, perhaps satiric, story involving Philosophers, Leprechauns and angry wives. I never heard of Stephens until I bought his book about the Easter Rising, and the lady at Kenny's in Galway told me about Crock of Gold.

Tomás,

I fully understand your feelings and frustration. I was born and brought up in New York City, and am tired of hearing about "rude New Yorkers". As a group, I don't think they exist but someone, somewhere started that particular rumour, so we're stuck with it. If I've learned anything at all during this life it is that ignorance knows no borders.
I'm really just getting started in Irish so I'm going to print out your reply and translate it later, but I think I understand that you worked in a shop and I can imagine that that is the worst place to see tourists in action. I've worked in stores too, but here, and sometimes you're treated like you don't exist. And to make it worse, you can't say anything to customers because "they're always right". I could tell you stories.... Have you ever been to the USA?

Slán, Julia

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Jim (165.123.243.168 - 165.123.243.168)
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 11:16 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tomás,

I would like to meet these Americans who have this "Darby O'Gill" view of Ireland. All the Americans I know, have the greatest respect for the history and heritage of Ireland. We are aware of the struggles of our ancestors and the modern day Irish.
When you lump an ENTIRE group of people into one category of behavior you are stereotyping.
When you say, "Americans have this darby o'gill image of Ireland", you lump me, as an American, into that group of so-called "Silly Yanks" and it's offensive to me and, I'm sure many other Yanks.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 12:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

A Thomáis, a chara,

Tuigim duit más ag obair i siopa turasóireachta atá tú. Is féidir go bhfeiceann tú an iomarca de dhearcadh áirithe á léiriú. Is fearr dá dtuigfeá an chuid eile anseo, áfach, ar an gclár comhrá seo, dream nár chuala aon trácht a bheith ar bun ag Gaeil-Mheiriceánaigh ar na lúchorpáin ná ar an Síol Éalathaigh. (>Shillelagh) Is fearr dúinn cuimhne a choinneáil ar iomláine scéil i gcás ar bith, mar ní bhíonn le feiceáil ag an tsúil ghlais ach an saol glas.

Tá tú le moladh as do chuid Gaeilge a Thomáis agus ní gá a bheith buartha fúithi ar chor ar bith.

Beir gach bua is beannacht,

Seosamh

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Tomás (159.134.163.189 - 159.134.163.189)
Posted on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 09:05 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Julia,
Unfortunately I have never been to the US. I'd love to go there someday! My experience of New Yorkers has been very positive, and it's a city I'd love to visit sometime.

ok! I admit after reading all these other posts that I may have been stereotyping. I therefore apologise for any offence which I may have caused!

However, all my experiences are entirely factual! there are American's out there who think like this!

A Sheosamh,
Go raibh maith agat! Níl mé ag obair i siopa turasóireacht, táim ag obair i siopa an-bheag i sráidbhaile bheag. Cheapaim gur bhfaca daoine rudaí cníochas i mo bpostaí? Níl mé cinte. Ach ní raibh mé ag iarraigh aon rud cníoch a scriobh! Agus mar sin tá brón orm. Scriobh mé faoí eachtraí fíor. B'fheidir go mbeidh fearg ag na daoine Meireacánadh dom. Tá brón orm!
le meas,
do chara,
Tomás

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Saturday, October 18, 2003 - 09:25 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Tuigim do scéal a Thomáis. Déarfainn go mbeidh gach rud ceart le cách tar éis do phoist deiridh romhainn anseo. Ní bhraithfidh éinne as alt duth ná dath a thuilleadh mar gheall ar an scéal.

Gach bua is beannacht,

Seosamh

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Maidhc Ó G. (67.235.185.78 - 67.235.185.78)
Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 12:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"Darby Ó Gill and the Good People" ó Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.
London: Putnam c. 1932
-Maidhc.

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Seosamh Mac Muirí (193.1.100.104 - 193.1.100.104)
Posted on Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - 01:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Rugadh is tógadh bean d'aisteoirí an scannáin sin sa taobh tíre céanna liom féin. Is cuimhin liom a hathair go maith. Is cuimhin liom í féin nuair a bhíodh sí thart i ndiaidh an scannáin. Bhíodh tarraingt súil ina diaidh ar ndóigh, ach ní dóigh liom gur bhac sí a bheag ná a mhórán leis an tseafóid a shiúl le cuid eile de lucht scannáin is ardáin.

Tá sí ar ais tigh a hathar, le taobh na farraige, i gCo. Shligigh. Tá áit ghalánta aici, i ndáiríre. Tá gean an phobail uirthi freisin. Scaoileann sí gasúir na háite isteach ag snámh ina háit féin. Níl a teach ach achar 20 troighe ón mbarr láin, ach tá an-fhoscadh cuain aici ann agus chomh maith le sin, tá an teach crochta ar chuaillí iarainn go hard os cionn na dtonntracha, creid é nó ná creid. Briseadh isteach doras an gharáiste in íochtar tí le treise farraige uair amháin. Ach galánta, galánta, galánta a deirim leis an áit. Thiocfadh le duine siúl amach siar agus casadh ar thrá is ar chladach a bhéaras an-síneadh na gcos duit.

An tráth so bliana, is beag eile a chasfar duit ar do chamrian, agus an té a chasfar, is duine spéisiúil a bheas ann. Duine a bheadh ag iarraidh an t-ól nó an dochar a sheachaint. Duine a mheabhrós ábhar fealsúnta éigin duit nó a shaighdfeas thú le ceist. Aireoidh sé caoineadh róin amuigh ar oitir ghainimh agus tarraingeoidh sé sin scéal. Casadh daoine mar sin liom ar chladach istoíche le clapsholas. Ábó, dá bhfaighfinn mo mhian, is ann a bheinn.
Ar mhodh ar bith, ós ag trácht ar an gclapsholas atá, is mithid a bheith ag bogadh na ngad as an áit seo.

Cuimhní agus grá áite.

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Michael Noonan (162.84.134.240 - 162.84.134.240)
Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2003 - 10:48 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Dia dhuit;
I've been around Ireland from Donnybrook to Dunmanway and from Cloone to Cloonee and have yet to see a leprechaun; Not that I've been looking for them. Ususally I was in Eire looking for na mna alainn. But that's a tale for another day.

Slan go foil.
Michil

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Jim (165.123.243.168 - 165.123.243.168)
Posted on Friday, October 24, 2003 - 07:36 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Nár lagaí Dia do lámh, a Michil!

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Luke Fleeman (24.130.61.84 - 24.130.61.84)
Posted on Sunday, October 26, 2003 - 03:02 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Hello eveybody, I am a bit new to these boards, but this thread is very interesting to me.

First off, in response to the thing that Tomás said, I totally understand. I live in a very ethnically diverse area in California, and whenever I am referred to with a blanket "White" name, I correct, and let them know I am Irish, not just some white guy.
Upon saying this, I am often bombarded with comments about lucky charms, alchoholism, and wearing green. It is a little irritating.
In defense of these ignorant folks though, people must understand that corporations have used this kind of garbage in marketing for generations, and most non-Irish people would not understand that that is not the way things are.
Second of all, many Irish people are themselves unaware of their own heritage. They know they are Irish, but little about it. Some of us, as Dawn said, have no sense of our own "Irishness." I know I personally noticed ways my family acts, and does things, and lives, and when doing research, or talking to Irish people, I see how similar we are. We jsut don't understand that we are the way we are because of our ancestry.
And this is also a problem in american society that causes this kind of ignorance. Being white means being not special to many people, so many Irish-Americans go on, accepting that they have nothing special. A few of us realize though, and want to learn. And we all know, and hope, that when we return to the homes of our ancestors, we will be able to accept and love where we came from,and not cheaply mock it.

Whew. Sorry for the rant.

Luke Fleeman

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Michael Noonan (162.84.134.240 - 162.84.134.240)
Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2003 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Ni thigim, a Seamus.

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Jim (165.123.243.168 - 165.123.243.168)
Posted on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 07:39 am:   Edit Post Print Post

More power to you in your search for na mna alainn

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LACAstronomer (129.210.140.25 - 129.210.140.25)
Posted on Saturday, February 21, 2004 - 05:48 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm an American, and I don't have any of those stereotypes of the Irish. I've been to Ireland and met my relatives in Co. Mayo. My great grandparents came from there, and my grandpa is a dual citizan (and my mom might get dual citizenship too). Most Americans I know don't have those views of the Irish (though a lot of my friends make fun of me for listening to Irish music, hanging pictures of Ireland all over my dorm room, and other such things). I'm sure there are a lot of obnoxious American tourists, but they don't represent all of us. I think that I was respectful. I have of course studied a lot about Irish history, which helped me to be able to talk to the people there (in fact, one Irish woman commended me on how well I "know my Irish history" because I was able to identify Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf). Basically, I think that Americans who go to Ireland should do research, know things about where they're going, know something about history and current events. This way, we don't come off as badly as many people think we are. I would hope, of course, that for all the loud, obnoxious American tourists you meet there are a few inconspicuous, respectful Americans who aren't as noticeable. I'm not sure its the case, but I hope it is.

"P.S. Darby O'Gill scared the pee out of me as a kid!! The Banshee gave me nightmares for a week!"
I can't even mention banshees to my mom without her getting scared. Its not from Darby O'Gill, its from the stories her grandmother told her about banshees.

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Antaine (141.153.176.207 - 141.153.176.207)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 11:04 am:   Edit Post Print Post

While I've lived in the US all my life (3rd gen) I've been brought up knowing my family history. My great-grandfather emigrated to the US under pressure after his release from prison. Why was he in prison? Participating in the Easter Rising.

He's even has a square named after him in Cashel, his hometown.

I've never actually been to Ireland, so I'm a total Yank (I've only ever been to three foreign countries and one of them is Canada so that doesn't really count...the others were all in this hemisphere...) but when I think of Ireland I think of my grandfather being shown by his father the marks left by bullets intended for him, I think of the struggle of a language to survive (a language which I am the only one in my family who thinks it's important to learn...including those who've lived in Ireland their whole lives...), of an ancient order that now no longer exists which saved western civilization at time when moorish and turkish incursions were whittling away at Europe. I think of Briain Boroimhe and my own ancestor Olioll Olum and how kings like he built in part a civilization that has peopled countries the world over.

I know that there are many in the US who would have no idea what I'm talking about, but rest assured there are those yanks for whom Darby O'Gill is the last thing that crosses their mind when they think of Ireland

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LACAstronomer (129.210.140.25 - 129.210.140.25)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 03:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Antaine, that reminds me a lot of my own family. My great grandfather left under somewhat similar (and somewhat mysterious) circumstances. I don't think he went to prison, and it was later than the Easter Rising, but I think there was something similar to that in his past. He was from Ballyhaunis. I don't think there's anything named directly after him there, but there's lots of stuff with his name, it being extremely common up there.

Now, I think of Ireland too much for any one image or idea to come to mind when I think of it. But, none of it is stupid stereotypes from dumb old movies. I think of the people I met there, the beautiful scenery, the language that just sounds exactly right (making me think its the language that I was meant to speak), the most excellent brown bread that I had at breakfast every day there, the walk I took on a bog in Kilkelly to see where my grandpa's cousin's husband cuts turf to heat their home, looking at the graves of my great great grandparents in Ballyhaunis, going to the shrine at Knock where my great grandfather was baptized, well, I suppose you get the picture.

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Antaine (141.153.176.207 - 141.153.176.207)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 05:44 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

yeah...i would have actually written more but i had one foot out the door to my grandmother's b'day party...I think I put my table to sleep at the last Esopus weekend...somebody would innocently say something like, "I don't get why..." or "I heard that..." and then I would feel the need to answer them with a twenty minute history lesson...my buddy was interested, but she's into that sort of esoteric knowledge-for-knowledge's-sake, but I'm afraid the others were a little pleased when I made a conscious effort to pass up opportunities to speak (I LOVE history...)

I must say, though...I do have an affinity for Darby O'Gill and The Quiet Man...but I by no means consider them anything more than amusing caricatures and something cute to do with some fresh popcorn on a rainy day...

If you ever do get to Cashel, and manage to find "Patrick Hogan Square"...that's my great grandfather...my great-great-grandfather's blacksmith shop is still there from what I understand, but is now a pub...at least it was in the early 70s...

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Máirín Ní Dhufaigh (24.195.9.253 - 24.195.9.253)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 06:50 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Tomás,

Your original post hit a very sore spot for me; I was born and raised in New York but all four of my grandparents were born and raised in Ireland (they came over after WWII). My parents seem somewhat ashamed of their heritage - one of my grandmothers pretty much completely washed her hands of being Irish and proclaimed English the most superior culture of all.

Since I have no heritage but an Irish heritage it's always been something I've been extremely curious about. However, I've been mostly on my own in trying to explore it because of this feeling of shame - my parents don't want to talk about it and have bordered on discouraging me, and I've but one grandparent left (and she's the high-on-England one). My parents think it's ridiculous that I'm wasting my time on trying to learn a "dead" language.

It's not exactly something that I weep over every night or plan on starting lawsuits over (sigh) but I've experienced ridicule over being so pale (I stopped wearing skirts in elementary school bc of the comments about my legs), I've been called a leprechaun (actually somebody I work with now calls me that regularly :-p), received anti-Catholic insults, etc. etc. I'm guessing that growing up with this is what made my parents distance themselves from being Irish? You don't experience this sort of thing being Irish and growing up in Ireland, do you?

These sort of things just leave me with this insatiable yearning to figure out what "real" Ireland is.... Is this somewhere I would fit in? Is this a place that exists?! Discovering what Ireland is really about isn't easy, however...

I'm not sure what angers me the most - the fact that for my parents generation, at least, being Irish was something to hide from, something associated with poverty and disgrace; or the fact that whenever I try to learn about my Irish heritage I feel as if I've stepped into Disneyland. For example, pretty much every website I've visited to read about Ireland (except for this one!) wants to sell me Claddaugh rings, wool sweaters, wool caps, and Guinness paraphernalia. Well, I've bought all those things. They don't help.

I'm dragging my dad to Ireland with me this summer and hopefully I'll figure it out then.

I guess my whole point in writing this is to let you know that while I wholeheartedly agree that many Americans are obnoxious and ignorant of all cultures but their own (and I apologize on their behalf!!), there is also a huge lack of knowledge about real Ireland over here. Whenever someone talks about Ireland here, it's this mystical, Disney fantasy-land where everything is perfect and green and mythical creatures roam about, etc. etc. It's a utopia, not a real-life place.

In the US, it's not considered a real culture. It's considered a product.

~Máirín

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PAD (12.75.192.25 - 12.75.192.25)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 08:06 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Máirín Don't assume that because your parents rejected their heritage, all Irish immigrants did the same. Both my parents were born in Ireland and were very proud of that. They discussed Irish history and politics frequently and taught their children about Ireland. They were voracious readers and the works of Joyce, O'Connor, O'Casey were in the bookcase and enjoyed by all of us. Family gatherings were full of stories of "home". And as proud as they were of being Irish they were even prouder of being American citizens. Stereotypes of any kind are just that - grossly exaggerated depictions of faults and the omission of any virtues.

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LACAstronomer (129.210.140.25 - 129.210.140.25)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 08:57 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I know my family didn't reject their heritage. My great grandparents never did teach their children Gaelic, but they did pass on the other things. I think that's the case with most of the Irish Americans I know (though perhaps you just can't tell that the ones who rejected their heritage are irish at all.)

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OCG (82.69.43.131 - 82.69.43.131)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 09:25 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Máirín

Very interesting post you made. I was born and raised in Ireland and I think for the older generation there was a deep inferiority complex about being Irish. I think it was the long shadow cast by the Famine but I'm only guessing, maybe it was a manifestation of the psychic injury we did to ourselves by turning our backs on our language.

Difficult to answer but you can be sure Máirín that you're not alone in your predicament.

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Antaine (141.153.176.207 - 141.153.176.207)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 09:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

"In the US it's not considered a culture. It's considered a product."

...nail?...head?...::BAM::

I think it might have something to do with us being so isolated...I would think that people in Europe meet far more people from their respective neighboring countries than over here...

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Máirín Ní Dhufaigh (24.195.9.253 - 24.195.9.253)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 09:35 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Good evening Pad,

I didn't mean to say that all Irish immigrants rejected their heritage at all and I hope I didn't come across that way. :-( I was really just trying to get the point across that in my situation, it's hard without that familial network to figure out what real Irish culture is about and I *really* want to. (Part of the reason I decided to participate here :-) ) So for your average American, it's much harder to realize that corned beef and cabbage and green beer are part of a fantasy.

As I said before, I'm not sure why my parents are less than enthusiastic about their heritage but I guessed that it was because of the stereotypes they may have faced here in the US. I could be totally off the mark here. A lot of this probably stems from history and is probably better left alone. I don't feel confident making any sweeping statements at all and I'm sorry for not qualifying what I said a lot more - however I'm really eager to listen & learn if others that know would like to speak up.

I'm not sure where you were aiming your remark about stereotypes towards but I hope that I didn't perpetuate any. :-/

Anyway, I guess a lot of what I said stemmed from being afraid that at least in my family, our Irishness is dying out. Yes, we're American now, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I still think it's important to know where you came from and I hope my children (when I have them :-) ) will. But where does the boundary lie between being American and being Irish, or is being Irish-American a seperate culture all its own? Is it silly to want to learn the native language of a country your ancestors came from but that you will probably never need to know? I've been puzzling over these.

It also seems that there is this phenomena where countries & cultures across the world are becoming more Americanized, and I guess I'm afraid for the peoples of other cultures, too. If everybody becomes the same, the world would become a much less interesting place, wouldn't it?

Maybe I'm too much of a crazy hippie. ;-)

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Máirín Ní Dhufaigh (24.195.9.253 - 24.195.9.253)
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 10:24 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

LACAstronomer,

Perhaps Gaeilge wasn't passed down in your family because your great-grandparents just wanted the best for their children and speaking English was maybe associated with upward-movement, success, and the future? If so, they were in good company - according to Wikipedia "Irish political leaders, such as Daniel O'Connell(Dónall Ó Conaill), too were critical of the language, seeing it as 'backward', with English the language of the future." (the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Gaelic)

I guess my saying that my parents "rejected" the Irish culture isn't the proper term and is too harsh. I mean, my father studied Irish literature at the graduate level in college. It's more of just a failure to pass it all down? A feeling that it's nothing special, or just "the old ways"? Does that make more sense?

OCG,

Do you know more about how the use of the language thinned out? That stigma of the Irish language being "backwards" that fascinates and angers me... where did it come from...? Where did the inferiority complex about being Irish come from?

Thank you for your post!, because I was beginning to think that maybe my family was alone with respects to this all and that there was no inferiority complex. I mean, I guess an example I could give growing up in the US with Barbie dolls - tall, thin, dark tan, and blonde, while I'm dark haired, short, and pale white - for many years as a child I lamented only being able to maintain a pale white or gain a bright red and no in-between. All of my classmates made me feel like some kind of freak for not being able to tan. It was very difficult to let go of wanting the impossible of being tan, but I wasn't trying to reject my paleness so much as conform with others' expectations. I think other people go through similar social pressures about appearance and all sorts of things and in extreme cases you have people that get implants and tummy tucks, etc.

So, I've thought, especially looking at my grandmother, that maybe for some reason the Irish felt pressure to conform to English ways?

Or like you said, maybe it's an effect of the Famine - it was a life or death thing and people that gave up the old ways were more likely to survive?

Antaine,

That's something I never thought about! Do the Irish feel separated from the rest of Europe? Do you feel like Irishness is a product in other Europeans countries too the way it is in the US?


Thanks guys, this is turning into a really interesting discussion!

How do you feel the Irish language is faring in Ireland right now? I mean, maybe if it's been weakened by the idea of English being "the future" and more, I don't know, "in," then it could be strengthened by some sort of "cool" factor attached to it. This might sound strange, but as an undergraduate, I just sort of randomly took up Japanese to fulfill some of my humanities requirements and for some reason there has been this recent explosion of interest in all things Japanese here in the US amongst young people. It was very difficult to get into some of the Japanese classes I took because everyone wants to take them now - especially because of the growing popularity of Japanese anime. People at my college even use little Japanese catch phrases to each other. Maybe Gaeilge needs something like this to win the hearts of the young people to make it "cool" to speak it?

~Máirín

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Antaine (141.153.176.207 - 141.153.176.207)
Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 12:43 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Okay...I'm going to try to hit all your important stuff...

I meant that the American failure to treat other cultures as anything but novelties stems from their not encountering them as anything other than tourists, or ambassadors of the culture as tourists in the US...

I wouldn't worry too much about American culture steamrolling everybody else into one, homogenous "McWorld"...I would think that other peoples' infatuation with American culture amounts to little more than America's infatuation with Irish culture...they will only adopt the things they deem truly better...National Geographic ran a spread a few years back about disappearing languages and American cultural dominance and there was a good quote there, talking about people in areas of rural China, "I don't think it's fair to insist that they live in a museum while we have showers that work"

I do think that "Irish-American" is its own, distinct culture...you have the element of emigration, adaptation to the Melting Pot, and search for one's true heritage that Irish who stayed in Ireland probably don't have (at least not to the same degree)

Silly to learn the language? Probably from a practical standpoint, but realistically? no. What goes into making up a culture? Music, food, art, literature, dress and language (and prolly a few others...). music changes...do we listen to the same music we did 500 or 1000 years ago? food changes...as new things are introduced from places around the world...imagine George Washington eating at a Chinese, Thai or Italian restaurant? Art deteriorates...how many medieval tapestries or renaissance-era paintings are left compared to how many were produced. And music and art are not something everybody in a culture does...Dress is, but dress changes by the decade... literature stagnates...hence english-english translations of Beowulf (and more recently, Shakespeare), but the spoken language evolves, and is used by (except the deaf and those severely mentally handicapped) everybody who is part of a culture...it is a culture's lifeblood...Take that away and you'l have distinctive dress for a generation or two, distinctive food for a bit more (tho ask the proprietors of those restaurants I mentioned earlier whether or not the food is the same as in the "Old Country"), and distinctive music until it is marketed.

I never met my great grandfather, and my great grandmother died years before I picked up Gaeilge...I've often wondered what they would have said if they could see me speaking Gaeilge and playing the uilleann pipes...they probably would have said something like "WHY!?!?!?" but, hey, what can you do? I'd like to think that if my clan originator, Ógán could, knowing the intervening history, see me now it'd give him some hope for the future of his line. I know it baffles my cousin PJ, who is actually my mother's cousin and has always lived in Ireland (first Tipp, now Clare) for in all his years he hadn't really managed to pick up a word...

You're definitely right about the Famine connection.

I know firsthand the rush to get answers to as many of your questions as you can before the last two or three of the oldest generation pass on...you may feel silly asking, but that feeling will pass and the knowledge you gain become an heirloom...whereas silenced responses to questions only dead men could answer will haunt you as regret for the rest of your life...

and lastly...I'd say it already has a "cool" factor...I've been to four immersion programs, and to each one brought someone else...one Pole, one Frenchwoman, one German, with only Aoife at this most recent weekend having any traceable Irish heritage. When I got to college everyone I met that learned that I spoke some Irish insisted that I teach them at least a phrase or two, with my roommate one year signing up for a night class with me when I was taking a refresher...I'd say it DEFINITELY has a "cool" factor, and in Ireland, it is my understanding, the language has become a tourist attraction in its own right...I know when I do get there one of my first (and longest) stops will be to the gaeltacht to see nothing much in particular, but to do alot of listening...and that alone would be worth the trip...

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