Family visiting ruins in Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day Contest Entry: Confessions of a Government Worker

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This contest entry from Joseph is a well-written essay that does a great job of weaving his personal desire to visit Ireland with Irish history with cultural references.  Thanks for your entry, Joseph, and we’ll be happy to give you a special discount on that trip to Ireland!  Just reach out to us.

“Out of Ireland have we come. Great hatred, little room, Maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother’s womb. A fanatic heart.” W. B. Years

Ireland is a country rich with history and mysticism from which my ancestors came and for which I am fanatical. Its beautiful natural landscapes, rich with green show that no matter what the struggle, the Irish prosper and endure no matter what the world may throw at it. Indeed, from Flight of the Earls, through Penal Laws, to the Modern Day, the Irish have survived and thrived. Even in the face of incredible ethnic and religious discrimination, the Irish survived the Great Famine of the 1840s and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. In so surviving, the Irish recognized the need to memorialize its history by preserving the Neolithic Tombs and Book of Kells, maintaining the General Post Office in Dublin City and Kilmainham Gaol, and keeping Midleton Distillery and Like many from the United States of America, I have ancestors from Ireland; specifically, I have ancestors from County Clare and County Westmeath. Recognizing the importance of knowing history, particularly my own ethnic history,

I have read many books on the History of Ireland, celebrated its rich literary culture, and listened to hundreds of Irish songs. Since I was a young child, I spent countless hours listening to my relatives and their recollections of the past. Whether it be my father discussing how his grandmother believed leprechauns existed or my aunt discussing how her aunt missed the Titanic and blamed the ship’s sinking on its failure to list its true place of origin BELFAST rather than LIVERPOOL.

What is more, I recently got married this past year to a wonderful Irish-American girl. Certainly, as Fionnula Flanagan would put it, my wife is a true Irish woman, “strong as [a] horse, incredibly loyal and[,] for the most part, funny, witty, bright and optimistic in the face of devastating reality.” This optimism became evident when I suffered a severe injury that required immediate surgery to correct paralysis of my left leg. While I was a classic pessimist, she took care of me—helped dress me, clothe me, feed me, and protect me, even at times from myself. I struggle each day to reward this devastating optimism of a slow but hopefully successful recovery; and would love to reward her with a wonderful trip.

Now, while I know a decent amount of Irish History and of my own Irish heritage, my wife knows little of where in Ireland her ancestors once called home or how they came to America, a factoid that I strive to correct as her family knows little of where its roots originally were laid. I am of the firm believe that an Irish-American, a term sometimes that seems like a contradiction in terms, should strive to visit his or her home country at least once in their lifetime. It should be akin to a Jewish person visiting Israel or a Muslim visiting Mecca; but finances always dictate the sobering reality for this humble government worker who is left looking out into the Atlantic Ocean, longing to return to the country of my family’s past and my wife’s family’s past. With the proper votes, I hope that the green land between the pond and my home state of New York become closer; and I may take my once in a lifetime visit to the place where my ancestors called home.

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