Sunday, March 08, 2009

st penguin's day - irish notes

my claim to 'heritage' happily includes ireland and the irish. i put heritage in quotes to differentiate myself from the ubiquitous oklahoma nonindian claim to 'indian heritage'. i did not grow up in any way irish and my claim to a relationship with things irish comes from consuming and enjoying ireland as delivered to me in books, movies and sounds. i do not choose to insult the irish by claiming i are one whether or not i may have an ancestor who was in fact irish.

my penguinista friend jen [see her link to the right] gives me a chance to prepare for st. patrick's day with some words and a pic that combines two of my loves - penguins and the irish - without claiming i am of penguin heritage.

first a moment in the catskills with my lost new york friend tom hoffman and his family. when bernice and i travelled to new york with our new van and 6 children back when, tom and kathy took us to an 'irish festival' . the festival is like a number of summer tourist drinking events nomiminally dedicated to an indentifiable group. this one however also includes first and later irish expatriates. they demonstrate the absolute angsts of being irish and of being a hyphenated american [cf. american indian.]. they fervently sang 'give ireland back to the irish' and then were just as loud when the song was 'god bless america'. they have escaped - but can not escape - the agony of the 'troubles', the 200 year long reaction to great britain's claim to own ireland and its people. . there is an interruption to the violence but within the week there has been more. i mention all this in part to recommend one of the most beautiful and sad short stories i have ever read: frank o'connor's 'guests of the nation'. it is the story of two new ira recruits assigned to guarding two captive british soldiers who they are ultimately ordered to kill after all have interacted as people. it obviously speaks to the sadness of war - implicitly it also speaks to religion as the basis for war and conquering between neighbors. i couldn't find it online but i unabashedly recommend the story for real reading.

in more modern times 1972's 'bloody sunday' united rockers from both side of the pond to sing against the british in ireland. u2 and beatles john and paul all sang out and in fact it was paul who wrote the first song the irish americans were singing. i'll close with his version of the song and a recommendation that you read wikipedia's account of bloody sunday that gives a capsulized history of the day and the troubles:

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