Sunday, February 19, 2012

Unlucky Charms

(I was going to save this for St. Patrick's Day, but couldn't wait. The video is the most bizarre representation of Irish culture I've ever seen, and the voiceover must have come at a bargain price because it sounds like he's from somewhere in the Midwest.)

Top ten reasons why some Irish Americans have no real clue about Ireland

Loud and too proud many Irish Americans make a very bad impression


IrishCentral Contributer

Published Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 7:23 AM

Updated Thursday, February 16, 2012, 4:48 PM

My American friends always tell me how they love Ireland. But when I stayed in Chicago in the 1990s they described an Ireland I never knew existed. On a recent visit back, it seems that little has changed.

Maybe a little self-awareness and education about how the Irish really live might help.

1. We don’t live in thatched cottages anymore -- get real. We’re an urbanized society and have the same living standards as the rest of the world.

2. We don’t say faith and begorrah or chase Leprechauns -- Hollywood has infected the brains of too many Irish Americans. We don’t believe in fairies, banshees, or leprechauns, unless it is for gullible Americans.

3. We don’t drink all day and fight all night. Too many showings of ‘The Quiet Man’ have pickled some Irish American brains. We like a drink but we rarely fight.

4. We don’t hate the British any more. Sure we did once, but we’re best friends for years now since the peace process, the Queen’s visit was totally popular.

5. We generally don’t like American Republicans. We are much more comfortable with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and their nuanced international world view than cowboys like George Bush and Ronald Reagan -- sorry all you Tea Party Irish.

6. We don’t really think you are Irish, the same way as us. If you are not born here then by our definition you are not Irish.

7. We don’t really like "Danny Boy" and all the sentimental songs. Sure, they are fine for a late night sing song for Americans but we are fed up of them.

8. We often tell jokes about you, usually about the phony Irish accents and Aran sweaters

9. We don’t know the Murphys from Cork or the Sullivans from Kerry, there are thousands of them.

10. We don’t want to hear any more Irish drinking jokes -- they are pathetic and demeaning to us for the most part.

*James Farrell is an Irish writer now living in Dublin

Yes! This just about sums it up. It must be irritating for the Irish to be stuck with these mostly inane stereotypes.  (Thus the green background. Never mind how I did this.) As the illustrations prove, and by the way they are MEANT TO BE IRONIC, FOLKS, NOT LITERAL, SO DO NOT CALL ME AN IGNORANT RACIST, this sometimes took the form of a vicious discrimination so primitive it defies analysis. The infamous "no dogs or Irish" rule proved that white people could treat white people with the same dehumanizing cruelty as blacks and Native Americans.

My own family had a rather ludicrous pride in the fact that we were "Irish", having descended from the Pedlows, which is about as Irish a name as I've  ever heard. My mother eventually admitted to me that my "Irish" grandmother had been born in Canada. Though she always said I was "one-quarter Irish", now it seems to be more like 1/8. Are my children 1/16, and my grandchildren 1/32? Am I doing the math right? As Jonathan Winters once said about his Comanche heritage, "One nosebleed and I'm out of the tribe."

I worked all this into my first novel, Better than Life, exaggerating it so that the Connars believed that even a drop of Irish blood (and what exactly IS Irish blood, anyway?) made you a son or daughter of Eire. Erin go Blagggh, and all that stuff.

I had a cousin Eileen, OK. And another, Deirdre, though that can also be English, I think. Or is it Celtic?

I'm not sure why no one thinks of William Butler Yeats or James Joyce when they're rhyming off these Irish stereotypes: the bleak, often hopeless literary genius, grimly foretelling an apocalyptic future, light years ahead of his time but hard to sit next to at the bar.  No doubt they went  for a pint at the end of a long day of dystopic anhedonia, but not with the suicidal fervor that killed off the Welsh genius, Dylan Thomas, at the age of 39.

(Sorry. I had to throw in a little Separated at Birth.)

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