You want a great song for St Patrick’s Day? Hard to do better than this, about 2 waves of Irish emigration to America, separated by about 150 years https://t.co/n5MbC1AjH0
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) March 17, 2022
Thousands are sailing
Across the western ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Where e’er we go, we celebrate
The land that makes us refugees
From fear of priests with empty plates
From guilt and weeping effigies
Still we dance to the music
And we dance…
My mother’s people — well, my maternal grandmother, who was born (but not conceived) in New York; her husband died when I was too small to remember him — were very much Lace Curtain Irish. My father’s people… were not. Although the epithet ‘Shanty Irish’ was never used in their presence, that I remember.
It wasn’t till after those grandparents and their only child, my dad, had died that one of my siblings discovered the skeleton in our closet. We knew they’d both grown up in the same small Connemara community, separately emigrated to Montreal as the Troubles intensified in the early 1910s, and moved to New York shortly after marrying. What we did not know (my father probably never did) was that while my grandfather was raised in the (Catholic) Church, my grandmother… well, they had every reason to leave the Olde Sod, and then to move further away from their extended families once they were able to plight their troth.
And I’m officially one-quarter Ian-Paisley Orange.
That’s the heritage I blame all my least attractive failings on.