February 09, 2004

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Plan

So I came out of the closet at work today about wanting to move to Ireland.

Yeah, yíknow, the subject of this blog? Whatís that? Iíve never mentioned that before? Damn. I have to come out of the internet closet. (The internet closet is paneled on the inside with one-way mirrors.)

I want to move to Ireland. I want to go backwards.

My ancestors are from Ireland. My paternal grandmother emigrated from there most recently, in the mid-50s. Thatís how Iím sneaking past customs: as a Citizen of the Republic.

Why? For the hell of it, mostly. Because I want to travel. Because Iím bored.

But also because Iím interested in something, something hard to put your finger on. In America, when someone asks me what I am, I say Iím Irish. In Ireland, I say Iím American. What am I? Not so easy: Americans ask, they wonder what I am. In Ireland they know Iím American. (Well, I am sometimes capable of disguising it, but of that, later.) In America being American is not enough. And in Ireland, is it too much? Can I never be Irish to an Irishman, if I was born in America? Maybe I can, I dunno. I have a lot on my side --- hell, I have cousins in Cork. There are others, my fellow Irish immigrants, who face much tougher obstacles; what of them? I am trying to return to the fold, in a way; what if my ancestors were from Laos or Lagos? America is an idea; is Ireland? Is Irishness?

The contrarian in me likes the idea of backwardness, as well. Americans donít immigrate, you know. They only emigrate. They are ťmigrťs, or more frequently, expatriates. America is, as we all know, the Greatest Country on Earth. To leave it can never be a seeking of better, only a perverse rejecting of best.

I enjoy being perverse.

And in my perverseness, I feel Ireland deserves it. ĎTis, In America --- these are the two examples that leap to my mind first, but there are more. Many more. Decades more. The experience of the immigrant to America is a genre, of which the Irish immigrant experience is an established sub-genre. We Americans have reams and reams of your sliver-tongued opinions of us. But I canít think of a one that goes backwards.

So, with what do I arm myself in this quest? Complete and total ignorance, mostly. (Dear god, I hope this doesnít turn out to be a bildungsroman. Oh, dear.)

I know a spot or two of Irish history. Letís see if I can recite it in a paragraph:

Celts; Druids; Giants; Lir, Children of; behive monks; St. Patrick kicks out snakes, brings in Catholicism; Vikings, pale; Irish Save World (Of Literature, see: Book of Kells); English invade; Brian Boruís in there somewhere; plantation, Boyne, Cromwell, massacres; Flight of the Lords; English Protestants Are Here to Stay; Oh No Theyíre Not, Take 1: 1798 revolution; Rev. soundly defeated, unificationís in there somewhere; Famine, boycott, cursťd Trevelyan, soupers, near death of Irish as a living language; Oh No Theyíre Not Take Two: Irish brotherhood, Home Rule; Parnell cheats, is destroyed; Joyce and Yeats in there somewhere; WWI; Oh No Theyíre Not Take Three, It Almost Takes: 1916, the post office, Paidrig Pearse; the poor bastard who was shot sitting down; WWI ends; the Unionist Pledge and Sinn Fein in there somewhere; Oh No Theyíre Not Take Four, Frickiní Finally: Anglo-Irish War, with a side of Partition; to be followed immediately by Civil War, death of the Big Fella, reign of Eamon DeValera, really pretty boring in there for a while; Troubles start in the North, persist; boring and poor, everyoneís leaving; Hey, Bono!, Celtic Tiger; Tiger takes nap; and fin.

Also, generally: Emigration, Catholic Catholic Catholic, Stultification that is Rural Life, Music, Blarney, The Drink.

Oh, and: Joyce, Swift, Wilde, Behan, Yeats, Beckett; Roddy Doyle, Seamus Heaney, Stewart OíNan, The Playboy of the Western World, The Butcher Boy, At Swim Two Birds.

No hands, people, I swear. Well, thatís not true; I typed it. But no googling, which is a bit like having your hands tied behind your back, internet-wise.

So, I got that going for me. But contemporary knowledge ? Barely any. Ever been to Dublin, which is where I plan to move, in four months time? Nope.

Itís gonna be a bumpy ride.

The blog is to invite yíall along.

And to ramble about a bijillion other random and totally unrelated things. Hey, itís a blog.

Posted by Diablevert at February 9, 2004 08:27 PM

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