Every year I go through the same litany on St. Patrick’s Day — “Why aren’t you eating corned beef and cabbage — you are Irish, right?” or “What do you mean you don’t drink green beer on St. Patrick’s Day? Aren’t you Irish?” or the best one ever – “I can’t believe with a name like yours you don’t have red hair and green eyes!”
Are you serious? Most of the people getting drunk and stupid (which are usually the same thing) are no more Irish than my dear departed mother (may she rest in peace!). I don’t assume that my friends of Italian descent only eat lasagna, spaghetti and pizza any more than my Japanese friends only eat sushi! And I’ve seen lots of pictures of people from Ireland and I know that they don’t all have red hair and green eyes – where the heck did you get that one!
Yes, I am mostly Irish (on my dad’s side) but my mother was Swedish, German and English – so in the words of Bill Murray from the movie Stripes – I’m a mutt – I’m an American! Which believe it or not allows me to be of Irish descent and not like corned beef (which according to my Granny Hogan isn’t really Irish food – it’s Irish-American food). I do like boiled cabbage – mainly because my mother loved it (from the German side of the family – along with sauerkraut!) – and I really like Reuben sandwiches (that would be the American influence!). I can’t imagine my father or any of his Irish family ruining perfectly good beer by turning it green — that would be blasphemy!
Am I proud to be Irish? You bet! I’m also proud to be Swedish, German and English – but mostly I’m proud to be a descendent of people who came to America to make a better life! I’m proud to be an American! Which means I get to be all of the best parts of my ancestors – and I don’t consider corned beef and green beer to the best part of anything — although other people do – and they are welcome to that belief — they can eat and drink my share!
As for the red hair and green eyes? Well, I have to admit I always wanted to have red hair and green eyes and be named Fiona — don’t know why. Must be the Irish in me!