William Kennedy on his unsung origins. My grandfathers, George Kennedy and Peter McDonald, died before I was born. I came to know something of them through talks with my parents and other relatives, a few artifacts, death certificates and obituaries, and two photographs that defined them for me forever. Both photos are working-class portraits. The portrait of George … [Read more...] about Two Grandfathers
Irish America 15th anniversary issue
The English Catholic martyr, St. Edmund Campion, lived in Dublin for a while in 1569 and here is what he wrote about the Irish: "The people are thus inclined: religious, franke, amorous, irefull, sufferable of paines infinite, very glorious, many sorcerers, excellent horsemen, delighted with warres, great almes-givers, passing in hospitalitie: the lewder sort both clarkes and … [Read more...] about Puddle Jumping
When I was 13 years old, my mother took my siblings and me to Rockaway Beach in New York City for the day. After we romped in the ocean and were sufficiently sunburned, we ended up at a rather run-down Irish tavern that was hosting a singing contest. Since I can carry a tune, my mother made me enter. All the entrants, adults and kids alike, sang well-known Irish songs. I … [Read more...] about The Blue Ribbon
Being Irish? Is being a clannish islander with all the good and all the bad that comes of that. Is being pagan and spiritual at the same time, in the same bone marrow, with all the good and all the bad that comes of that. Is not knowing how different you are until you meet the other islanders of all the world. Is being sad and happy in the one minute, changeable as … [Read more...] about Links in the Chain
My south London schoolmates and I struggled with our Irishness during the 1970s. Nearly all of us had Irish parents who had settled in England in the 1940s and 1950s, but we had been born and raised in London. Did that make us English or Irish? Most of us made regular summer trips to Ireland, looked Irish, even knew a few Irish words. Some of us just felt Irish – all our … [Read more...] about English or Irish?