What is your idea or experience of being Irish?
Can you be Irish in America? Mexico? Australia? Anywhere?
Meanwhile, what's it like to be Irish in Ireland?
What makes these experiences related?
This blog will explore these questions through my own experiences reviving my partial Irish heritage and the stories I collect from others.
Right off the bat, you should know my great, great grandfather on my mother's side came over from Ireland and fought in the US Civil War as a marine for the North. His oldest son, my great grandfather was born in Ireland but came over with his father as an infant or toddler.
On my father's side, information is harder to come by, but one of my great, great grandfathers was Irish and came to settle in western New York from Boston. The mystery is he changed his name at the same time, which raises the question, what was that all about?
Five years ago my wife and I traveled to Ireland with another couple as tourists and had a great time.
Right around that same time as that trip, I became interested in the Irish language and in delving deeper in the Irish culture.
Recently, I have become a member of a peace mission to Northern Ireland in early May. A pastor who is a friend with my pastor had gone last year on a similar mission. I had picked up on the issues in Northern Ireland in my own research but my eyes have really been opened as I hear about their current troubles.
We are going to help build a community center that is on the border of the Protestant and Catholic sides, so people from both groups can come and interact. These people otherwise do not interact much so we really want to support reconciliation.
These groups live in sharply divided areas in Northern Ireland. There is a 50-foot wall separating the sides through Belfast. Instead of tearing down walls, they are building them higher. The conflict has been ongoing for 600 years but there has been relative peace for about 10 years. Recently the radicals on both sides have been trying to recruit the young people to incite violence.
So this blog will initially report on that peace mission trip, but will mix in the wider experiences of the Irish in Ireland and abroad.