Firstly no, I do not look for places selling Barrys Tea bags, Dennys Rashers, Lucozade etc. I do not look for Irish pubs or go to places where I think I will meet Irish people. I know Irish people all over the world who touch down in a new country and within weeks try to assimilate by finding their own, that’s not for me right now. Those who know me know that in Ireland I kept a relatively small circle of friends and so it’s not just that I moved here and stuck my nose up to all things Irish. The simple fact is I don’t particularly like people. 10 years working in retail was enough exposure to the human race. As for Irish food and shit, I do miss some of it from time to time but I can survive with the variety of food you can find in America. I’ll pig out once I go back to Ireland for a visit and that will tide me over for another year. With all that said I have been feeling an increased sense of pride in my Irish heritage and up bringing. Ironically mainly down to an American person asking about all things Irish and responding in a positive manner to everything we talked about. (An American trait, not Irish for sure! I’m a perfect example of that)
When you talk to the older generation here they are not all positive about the Irish and Ireland which I can accept just based on the sketchy history of Irish immigrants who travelled to the country. I believe it’s an outdated mindset but just like a lot of the prejudice experienced in Ireland when certain countries entered the EU. I can see why people react to those nationalities the way they do, whether I agree with the sentiment or not. The younger generation here seems to see the Irish and Ireland as an exotic and mysterious being. Which suits me just fine. I didn’t think I had an accent until the fit of laughter started when I said “I parked my car in the garage” one day. It’s cool to be not only accepted by people here but to actually be reveered simply because of where I was raised. It’s a very cool feeling.
On top of this. It seems like every day on the radio when I’m coming to work there’s a U2 song or Thin Lizzy, Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, The Script etc. It’s amazing to think such a small country, a place smaller than the state I currently live in has had such an impact on mainstream media here and around the world. I even requested a song by a band Steve introduced me to called The Answer one day on the rock station. Not only did they play it bu the producer for the show e-mailed me telling me how much he loved the band and how they had played warm up for AC\DC when they were in town. Also as much as it pains me to say it Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride are two of the most powerful songs lyrically ever written. They get a lot of air time here and rightly so.
I’m looking forward to coming back over to Phoenix after X-mas with Fr. Ted to show some of my work colleagues to see if the sense of humor travels. I would nearly prefer if it didn’t and it was a purely uniquely Irish thing. I work with an older gentlemen who’s dad was a baseball player for an MLB team. He does not like professional sports here at all, he’s very against them. When I told him about Hurling and Football back home his eyes opened wide and he was impressed that sports like that still exist in which the athletes make huge personal sacrifices to play with minimal return. More so with Hurling, which when you explain it to somebody in it’s most simple form, it sounds like a game a bunch of fuckin’ Barbarians would play. But still, you can’t deny how unique it is and how Irish.
I don’t really take pride in how socialist Ireland is as a country. Having lived here for over 9 months I can see the benefits to it for sure. People here have a tough time and a lot of pressure but I think Ireland is way off the scale in terms of socialism. It’s a hindrance to the country as a whole, in my opinion. Anywho, more on point of pride. Ireland per capita is tied for second place of the most giving countries in terms of charity. It ranks just ahead of the USA and Switzerland and just behind New Zealand and Australia, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. I honestly wouldn’t have thought that but then in hindsight I can remember going door to door for Trocaire, the collections in our school after the Volcano erupted in Mozambique. I guess we are a charitable bunch of fuckers.
The Irish pubs. They are everywhere. I’ve only been in two since I got here and I have not had a single drink in them. I went to see Ireland matches during the Euros and the guys I work with go to one for lunch some days. It’s amazing that the Irish culture has spawned it’s own pub sub culture all across the globe. It doesn’t help with the alcoholic stereotype but in fairness, isn’t it amazing that again such a small rock in the Atlantic has such a big influence around the world. I have an increased sense of pride in Ireland, not so much because my fellow countrymen have been painting themselves in glory because frankly it’s been the opposite for the last few months. It just seems like every news story out of Ireland has been negative in recent history. But the influence of Irish culture and the admiration from other nationalities gives me what the Americans call the “Warm and Fuzzys”