The luck of being Irish and other ramblings about culture

11 Mar

Let’s talk about being Irish.

I’m barely Irish by way of my mother’s father’s mother’s family being Irish. But it counts for something I figure I contribute my great ability to mope, brood and otherwise dwell on things to what little Irish blood I have.

Zac has the distinct privilege of laying claim to more Irish than I do. There’s Irish blood on his father’s mother’s side. Is anyone following this?

Anyway. It’s an interesting thing, claiming to be Irish or not. As a generation or two back  nobody was leaping up to declare their Irish roots. Irish meant poor and quite possibly mentally unstable. I read somewhere that the only thing you inherited in being Irish was disinheritance. But now it seems our American mixing and matching and cross breeding has relieved us of most of those apparent unfavorable traits – be you Irish, Italian or Polish – we’re all  free to claim which ever parts of our heritage interest us the most. (Please understand I said ‘apparent’ unfavorable traits. I find them all lovely myself. That or unfounded and non-existent to begin with.)

As Americans were all a bunch of mutts anyway and privileged in the fact that we are, well, American. Yet many of us, my self included, love to place something before the American. Irish-American. Italian-American. Korean-American. Lebanese-American. We might not still look it. We likely don’t still speak the native language. But it’s still fun. It’s still fun to see if you relate to another countries cultural ideas, to their food, their music no matter how far removed you might be.

Culture is cool like that. You can snatch it up and claim it as your own and as long as you can say, “Hey, my great-great-great-step Uncle was French!” well then, by God, you’ve got a right to eat a Croissant for breakfast every morning and act just a bit aloof.

It’s also a great way of explaining and/or justifying odd habits and less endearing traits. I am Italian. Therefore I will yell at you. Done and done.

Anyway – this isn’t where this blog was going but sometimes it’s not in my control –  our own blood and heritage aside, sometimes a certain culture, sound, taste or landscape catches our fancy and it’s just fun.

With St. Patrick’s Day drawing near, it’s fun to be Irish, even if only for a day. But like I mentioned in the beginning, Zac and I combined are about 1/100th Irish and therefore we are Irish. And not just on St. Patrick’s Day either. Irish culture has held our collective attention for some time now. Though I’ll admit, Zac practically sat on me and held me down to force me to listen to traditional Irish music when it first caught his attention.

It sounded like a garbled mess of notes and tunes and the lyrics were lilting and jumping and moving so fast I didn’t know what the hell they were singin’ bout anyway!

Now a year or two later, I know the words to just as many Traditional Irish pub songs as well…probably the Irish. That’s strange right?

And me being me – meaning I have an unending need to know everything about everything (not to imply that I do, only that I want to) – I’ve taken to learning Irish history.

Who were the Celts? What where they doing in Ireland? Why do Celtic crosses have that ring around the center? Who is Micheal Collins?  Or more recently, why were people blowing each other up in Northern Ireland just years ago, only to find peace in the past few years?

And the Gaelic language has caught my attention to. I thought I might learn a bit of it, maybe just beginning with the Gaelic names for Irish counties and cities. Well, that, I promise you, as been a futile effort and after a solid month I can now pronounce about 4 Gaelic words and only with extreme concentration.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of Irish culture is Irish folklore, stories, tales, myths and legends. They’re all sparkly and foggy at the same time, just like the Irish landscape.

And so while I learn the jumping lyrics of Traditional Irish tunes and ponder the existence of fairies and the Good People, while I read a bit more Yeats and consider the merits of using lamb blood in my cooking, I’ve also got my eye on the value of the dollar, I’ve memorized my giant map of the Emerald Isle and I’m trying to embrace the rain falling outside my window since I know the rain falls in Ireland more often than not.

And it isn’t only because the Irish culture has my attention.

It’s because Ireland is my new goal.

I don’t work well without goals, you see. I have to have a good, solid reason to come to work everyday and loving my job isn’t enough. On top of that, I’ve built me this little photography business and its happy I am that I did. But having two jobs is having two jobs, happy as a camper or not. As Spring photography season approaches I know I’m about to work that much harder.

I need to know what those hard-earned dollars are for. And if they’re going to the bank rather than the shoe store, there better be a good reason.

I wasn’t going to mention our Ireland plans on this blog for many reasons. For one, I recognize that   a) it’s a long way away and many people will think I’m off my rocker for giving it so much time and attention this far off    b) unless you’re a freak like me, reading about other people’s travel plans is less than interesting.

But I figure, this is me and this is my blog. I’m the kind of person that spends an entire year planning a trip not because I need to (because believe you me, I could plan an epic journey in days) but because I want to. Dorky as that may be. So what’s the point in pretending or blogging otherwise.

I came around to blogging about this because for one thing its on my mind frequently and isn’t that the point of my blog? But also because knowing that my ideas and intentions are public holds me to them.

That’s why I created a blog from my photography business well before it even resembled a business. Because if I said it, I’d have to make it true. That’s why I always blog about my goals to be more active or make various changes in my life. If I blog it, then it is so.

That said…

Ladies and Gentleman, we are going to Ireland.

There, I said it really loud and I said it on my blog, on the internet.
(Get it, like Donna Summer?)

And the plans go as follows:
– Save every penny possible, including those found on the street. So far we have $12.
– Walk and hike. A lot. So that there’s nothing, our fitness level especially, stopping us from hiking those gorgeous green hills and mountains. (Not that I’m about to become a mountain hiker. Ha!)
– Travel in early June 2011 leaving a full year to save pennies and rack up the vacay time.
– Spend 15 days traveling Ireland consuming as much Guinness, Smithwicks, Jameson’s and traditional music as possible, staying strictly in B&B accomodations in an effort to meet as many Irish people as possible.
– See, hear, taste and just in general experience whatever it is Ireland has to offer us.

So there it is, written in blogging stone. We’re going to Ireland. And I’m not silly enough to think there nothing stopping us. Things come up, budgets get altered, savings get spent. So there’s always that chance that we won’t get there as soon as we’d like. But that admitted, I’m only focusing on the going.

And if you’d like to know a little secret, well then I’ll tell you one. There’s another reason I know we’ll make it to Ireland come hell or high water.

It’s on my baby list.

I’ve mentioned before, we don’t have a baby-making timeline but rather a must-do before making babies list. The list mainly includes International travel. (Not because we don’t want to travel in the country we live in – we do very much – but that we want to do with our future children. They can pick which parts of the outside world interest them later.)

And in the making of this list – it will surprise most of you to know I’ve never actually written it down I just keep it in my head – Ireland landed on the top just above Italy.

There are about 4 places on the list all together. So we’ve got no time to waste if we’re to make babies in the near future. Travel we must. Save we must. Plan we must.

If I come across anything really interesting in my efforts to learn about Ireland, I’ll share them here. But I promise to only share the really interesting stuff.

Like really good Irish songs, which I’ve linked you up to just below. The first is a newer original song and a personal fave, the second is a very old traditional Irish song done by a newer band…another big personal fave…listen to words and try not to weep, I dare you. Next is a traditional song by a more old school Irish band, its pretty traditional so you might need to hang onto something to get through the whole song with your sanity in place. And the last is an original that I think you’ll like (whoever you are).

I know you’re at work and you aren’t even supposed to be reading my blog let along listening to my recommended Irish tunes but go ahead, give it a try. If the boss complains you can always just play the song louder, they’re cheery Irish songs, not fighting Irish songs, so the weight is in your favor. Enjoy : )

If I Ever Leave This World Alive

Green Fields of France

Rocky Road to Dublin

A Pair of Brown Eyes

If you’re leaving now and you haven’t listened to at least the first two songs, I’m pissed. You best be coming back to have a listen.

Sorry. That was my Italian side. My Irish side would have been much more hospitable than that.

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4 Responses to “The luck of being Irish and other ramblings about culture”

  1. klmphotos March 11, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    I hope you decide to get the GPS while in Ireland…but only if he/she has an Irish accent.

    Also, we danced an Irish jig for years in our Irish-Catholic School while the guests ate corned beef and cabbage. Even if that isn’t by blood that has to make you more Irish than Zac…by a little?

    • Zac March 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm #

      Ohhhh Kate…you have no idea. Show up to the pub on Saturday and you’ll see just how ridiculously Irish I am. It has actually been medically documented that my liver is up to 50% more efficient and twice as large as the average blokes’ if that’s any indication.

      Cant wait for this trip Mags! Slainte!

      • klmphotos March 14, 2010 at 9:42 am #

        Alright Zac – you can win this one. For your liver’s sake at least. Sorry I couldn’t make the pub this weekend…didn’t get home til 1 then I collapsed into bed! Let’s be Irish again sometime soon – Joel can probably pass for being a real Irish-man anyways.

  2. mom March 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Im all for the trip but…..if you start cooking with lamb’s blood i wont be coming to your house for dinner!! go go go travel travel travel then give me some grand babies before “GLAMMA” is too old!!!

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