The annual curmudge

I’m a big old St Patrick’s Day curmudgeon. This is not news to anyone who was here last year or any other year. I don’t want to wear green today or get drunk today (well, sure, but children) or set up leprechaun traps today or listen to traditional Irish music today and I’m only just getting over the mortification of having to see Enda Kenny visit Donald Trump today.

When the word went out that this year’s international dinner at Dash’s school this Sunday would have live Irish music and dancing, I went from vaguely wondering if we could get out of it to deciding that I really didn’t have to show up to everything they put on.

Old map of Ireland, framed, from unusual perspective.

No, it’s not sideways. That’s the way they drew the map.

Then I wondered if I was really a terrible person, denying my children access to their heritage like that. Am I like one of those immigrants who refuses to speak the language of the old country to their children so that they’ll assimilate better, thus taking the wonderful benefits of bilingualism out of their family’s grasp?

Actually, no. I don’t like traditional Irish music or step dancing. It’s part of my national heritage, but it’s not something I feel any personal connection to. Same goes for GAA (that’s hurling and Gaelic football). And we’re not even Catholic any more. But you know what my kids will grow up with?

  • A Hiberno-English vocabulary that they can turn on and off at will.
  • A bookshelf full of books by British and Irish authors many of whom are less well known here, from Oliver Jeffers’ picture books to Joyce’s Ulysses and a lot in between.
  • Knowledge of the canon of Father Ted, Monty Python, The Two Ronnies, and various other bits and pieces of nerdy 80s trivia befitting children of Irish people our age.
  • A better grasp of Irish and European geography and history than many Americans.
  • An understanding that other countries are just as valid and real as the USA and that normal is an ever-shifting concept.
  • Familiarity with the Dublin Monopoly board.
  • Access to plenty of excellent Irish hits of the 80s and 90s, should they choose to indulge.
  • Their grandfather’s watercolours of Irish scenes and historical maps of Ireland on the walls.
A pile of books by authors including Marian Keyes, Kate O'Brien, James Joyce, Julia Donaldson, Liz Nugent, Flann O'Brien.

Not all Irish authors, but all from that side of the pond

And then there’s that book I wrote, too. It’s set in Ireland.

I think they’ll be secure enough in their cultural heritage even if it doesn’t extend to a spot of the old diddly-aye.

Framed watercolour painting of a Galway hooker with brown sails on the water

An Irish painting of an Irish boat

3 thoughts on “The annual curmudge

  1. Muuka

    Great post. I struggle with this same issue for my kids. I never felt that nationalism that others feel for my own country yet am stuck not fully feeling Irish so what on earth am I meant to pass on. You’ve really made me think. And I did not know there was a Dublin monopoly set.

    Reply
    1. Maud Post author

      Dublin Monopoly is the real Monopoly, as far as I’m concerned. (Actually, it used to be an Ireland board, and the red properties were Cork streets, but the new one I bought is all Dublin locations except for Shannon airport. Maybe there’s also a Cork board now.)

      Reply
  2. Angela O'Donovan

    Hi, I think living in the US must be affecting you! We live in London and yes, everyone’s heard of St Patrick’s day but only one mention to me all day. There isn’t the fuss of green beer, etc
    I was more annoyed I was going away for the weekend and forgot in my rush to find a lovely little metal shamrock pin before leaving. It’s a small very ‘tasteful’ one – handed out at a posh embassy do to my hubby years ago!
    We feel very Irish, our son says he’s Irish. It’s not the getting drunk, all the ‘come all’ye’ stuff. More of a cultural thing that’s got nothing to do with sharing a language.
    It’ll be all over now – hope you got out of the school thing.

    Reply

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