My feeling is this: if you have distant relatives who may have been from Ireland, lived in Ireland, etc, and you would LIKE to say you're part Irish....then you're part Irish. Hell, if you go back far enough, we're all bloody related, so if you want to be Irish, what the hell; go for it.
This is how I feel. Countries and tribes are social constructs. Families are genetically linked. Genealogy is interesting because it's about individuals and history. My grandfather was born in Ireland, and his story is interesting to me, but I was born in Boston. I also have recent ancestors from England and Norway. I feel no special connection to the cultures of Ireland, England or Norway-- my culture is the United States of the Groovy 60s-- but I can claim Irish, English and Norwegian ancestry.
This is very interesting to me.
My great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland in 1922, not long after the vote. My grandmother was the first one in our family born in the United States, in 1924.
I bear a solid Irish name, and the mark of the Catholic church (mostly, scars on my knuckles from rulers).
But I really don't identify much with the past. I am American. Maybe because it was so much easier for us to assimilate, there was not a need to hold on to where we came from? I don't know if this is coming out right, but it's something I've thought a lot about. Why do I not have this identification with my "home" country like some others do?
I don't think much about the "old ways" or the "old country". Sure I'd love to visit one day. I'm curious. But I don't have the overwhelming emotional attachment and/or longing that some people describe for their past. I live in the present.
I think sometimes "my great grandparents got the hell out of there for a reason!"...
I don't know. This is all very disjointed, and I apologize. I think the bottom line is we can all define ourselves, and many of those definitions will be arbitrary anyway (as auntiehill
said earlier, go back far enough and we're all related).
It's a bit different for Americans, too, as the melting pot itself, as well as a set of beliefs, define us more than genetics. My ancestors two or three generations back were refugees, but I am as American as anyone whose family came over on the Mayflower or fought in the Revolution. I have friends who were born in Thailand and St. Vincent-- the day they became citizens, they became just as American as me. That's one of the things I love most about this country.
Next Sunday, we're all Irish.
My grandfather used to say, there are two kinds of people in this world-- those who are Irish and those who wish they were.