Diary of An Irish Woman

musings of an irish lady now living in America.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Am I still Irish

I was asked to help at a cultural training for a young lady who’s moving to Ireland - so I sat at the training and they would ask what would people do in Ireland with this and that and ask my input. The trainer was very good and she helped me to ask questions of my own experiences in Ireland and how we are culturally different in a lot of ways to America. Hopefully I set her straight, I’ve been so long out of Ireland now I sometimes wonder do I know really any more…. It was also very nice wee job on side to actually get paid to talk re Ireland ;-) It got me thinking though. Am I still considered Irish?

Funny thing is that on the surface I have become the American Irish - note I didnt say Irish American… I organize the bloody ceilis for fecks sake. Which I actually love. But the funny part is I do more Irish dancing here and listening to diddly-ie music than I ever did at home. I have more Irish friends than I did in NY, I’m the sitting president of the Irish network of Northern California for fecks sake, well thats more king of a molehill with our depleating Irish members going back home but thats for another posting.

So I tried to explain what it meant to live in Ireland and be Irish. I tried to explain to the lady such things as that the Irish would never directly ask for a lift somewhere (they say ride here and had to explain to her that wouldnt go down well in Dublin at all…) they’d ask - are you going to town, and build up to getting a lift. We hate to have someone say direct no …..

I know my sense of humor has stayed Irish, and my accent in California is more like my own in Dublin then when I was living in NY, having a less strong accent here has helped me keep my own. People laugh thinking you can lose your accent but when you use the american term all the time, and start learning them from americans then its natural to have their accent and not your own. I saw my own Mam and my sisters change their accents. My mams became softer moving to Dublin and less hard northern… My sisters accents have a Belfast tone and why wouldnt they. They have lived there long enough. NY had strong accents and so that follows my opinion that I sound more Irish now on west coast than I did the East… well thats the one I’m sticking to

So my accent and my sense of humor is Irish, is that what defines me apart being born there.? Then we had a conference call at work early early Friday morning at 730am, a kick off for end of quarter. They were using sport analogies to the dozen and ra-ra speeches to get us all fired up and I cringed. Like any good Irish person I cringed to my very soul … We don’t do those kind of things. We don’t say great job all the time, we dont do conference calls to get us all razzed up and certainly not at bloody 730am in the morning we don’t. Irish people in general because I’m sure there are the ones who do .. do not consider themselves defined by their work. They are defined by who they are, their friends, their family and their interests. Irish people work to live not live to work like the Americans. We will never go for a company song or company mentality. So yes with that cringe inside at the ra ra speech of a VP over the phone, I realized that even living here 12 years I am Irish. I think its seeped into my very bones.


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