Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I don't feel Irish the way those people feel Irish - Self Identity and Ancestry
This year it dawned on me - I am Irish. I do in fact have Irish ancestry. No matter, I still don't feel like it's my holiday. I don't feel Irish the way those people feel Irish. I never saw myself as one of those people who claim their Irishness publicly the way so many do. I guess, though I know it is wrong, that I thought you had to have recent Irish immigrant ancestors, or be at least half Irish to be one of those Irish. I understand that all it really takes is embracing your Irish side even if it is only one drop. The Irish are a very inclusive bunch. It's just me that's not connecting.
You're going to think this is a bit strange for a genealogist but I don't connect to any of my ancestral nationalities.
My mother's paternal line is all German. I grew up learning about German heritage and eating German inspired cuisine. My mom spoke regularly about her father attending a German-speaking school and how she was forced to learn German as a child. You think that would make me feel German, right? Nope, sorry, I don't feel any connection whatsoever to Germany or my German ancestors.
On my Dad's side, our immigrant ancestor came over from Wales in the mid-1700s. We also have a smattering of English and Scottish ancestors. Do I feel British or have a desire to sing Rule Britannia? Nope (as we say in New England), nada.
The strongest identity I feel is as an American but specifically as an American from the northeast. I feel connected with Pennsylvania, New York and New England. When I think of my heritage and my roots that's how I identify myself. I identify more with my farmers in New York, my furriers in Pittsburgh and my lawyers in Providence, Rhode Island than I do with any ancestor that came from across the pond.
I'm not sure what it means about my sense of self identity. I'm not sure if it's right or wrong. But I definitely know it's strong within me.
What about you? Can you identify with your ancestral nationalities? Can you call yourself Irish, French, German, Italian or other and feel it deep within your soul? Let me know what you think so I can figure out if I am a crazy lone wolf or not.
Photo Credit - Photo by By Wednesday Elf - Mountainside Crochet under the creative commons license
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 10:23 AM