Wednesday, March 18, 2009

O'Bama Go Bragh?

Even on St. Patrick’s Day, we can’t ALL really be Irish, can we?

Apparently, we can…recent published accounts claim that President Barack Obama has Irish roots. The tiny village of Moneygall, population just under 300, has laid claim to the title of ancestral home of President Barack Obama. Town officials claim that Obama’s great-great-great maternal grandfather lived there until he left Ireland for the United States at the age of 19. Apparently, this was 160 years ago, and the country that brought us “Waking Ned Devine,” claims to have uncovered “official looking” documentation to prove it.

While casting Barack in “Famine, The Musical” would be a bit of a stretch as only 1 percent of the current Irish population is black. It’s not that far-fetched that he is indeed Irish, because what isn’t he these days? Savior of the economy, beacon of hope for our nation, Norman Rockwell-esque family man, lover of Michelle and according to his Joint Congressional address possible curer of cancer…it was only a matter of time before the blarney was out of the bag regarding his Irish ancestry. After all, I tell my children that they are a melting pot; that their ancestors hail from Ireland, Cuba, Italy, Scotland, Russia, Germany and the Ukraine. (Of course, I am very, VERY quick to point out that the best part of them and majority of their heritage hails from the West Coast of Ireland, but that is beside the point.)

And who doesn’t want to be Irish? According to the last census, 34.5 million people in the U.S. claim they have Irish ancestry. This statistic is approximately 9 times the actual population of Ireland, (somewhere over 4 million). Perhaps this is a new kind of Chicago/Irish math, because the numbers don’t seem to jibe with the approximately 2 million Irish who immigrated to American during the height of the famine in the mid-1800’s. If the stats are true, than one thing is certain: the Irish are one horny, mother fucking lot (and clearly do not stay at the Holiday Inn Express!). They reproduced like rabbits, or like wire hangers in a coat closet….throw one in and 25 come out….but maybe it’s just the Catholic ones.

Yet, this great “mick” love affair was not always the case. Even if your only exposure to Irish history has been the be gosh and be goragh “Far and Away,” the Lucky Charms leprechaun or Colin Farrell, you know at various points in time nobody gave a shit about the Irish. But I must admit, that I’ve always loved my Irish heritage. I’ve never once woken up and wished to be Dutch, Swedish or even Japanese. There is no secret handshake, special way to order a pint or VIP access to “Riverdance.” I have tried to proudly teach my children about all the branches in our family tree, with special attention to the clan from County Mayo. No matter hard hard I try, however, my 8 year old son wants nothing of it.  For some reason, much to my chagrin, he is absolutely convinced that he is the only one in our family that is French.

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