Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Dark Side

"We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English."
- Winston Churchill
My maternal side, the dark side, seems to be moving through my veins of late. Perhaps it's Ganeida's talk of the Celts or perhaps it's simply a cycle I go through. My maternal grandparents hale from the land of Eire. Ireland. Black Irish, dark, small, morose and fierce. Spanish blood through invasion and rape. A different look from the light-skinned and fair-haired Celts.

I had an entirely different Irish experience from the many people I knew, being from the heavily Irish town of St. Paul I knew many. The direct experience, as opposed to a few generations removed. I never understood the silly leprechaun image, or the jovial, laughing redhead. St. Patrick's Day celebration was forbidden.

I knew kind, but stern. Prone to heavy moods and then lyrical talk. These were a people who struggled mightily in a harsh landscape and the landscape became as much of their person as was their skin. Demanding and accepting, a real enigma wrapped in a riddle. An affection for the religion, but a deep pragmatic understanding of life as it is. When I read Angela's Ashes I saw the Irish that I knew, aside from the drunken father. I understood that book at a very deep level.

I guess it's in the blood. I got the moods, but I didn't get the lyrical tongue and that hardly seems fair.


  1. I love the quote!:) Can I steal it? I enjoyed this post ~ naturally. I can't make this silly thing do a wry smile but while I haven't read Angela's Ashes I do know what you mean in a roundabout way. After visiting Scotland I began to understand the whole *dour Scots* thing. Over the centuries eveything has literally been taken & the people ground down. My Scots grandfather wasn't in the least sentimental. I saw why. Still. I forget where the quote's from but something about *the best export the Celtic nations had is their people* is sadly all too true. Anyway I agree with your views & while I know where the leprachaun thing's come from it's been made into a silly touristy thing. Anything from the Sidhe was never twee or silly; mostly it was rather scary. The advertising lot should be shot.

  2. Surely you may! I know of the leprechaun, but I didn't understand the goofy image. : )

    Grinding, unrelenting poverty does something to a people. And when another nation's boot is at the neck, it does something more.

  3. Starvation doesn't help either. :(
    I'd say the Wesh came off best in the clash with the English but it has taken them centuries to try & reclaim their language. Interestingly the Saxon's were the one people none of the Celts really attempted to Christianize; they were consided that vicious & unreachable & the hatred they exhibited towards the Celtic peoples was unrelenting.

  4. Although not Christian, my father's family came from Great Britain and were early settlers of Rhode Island. You can imagine my upbringing, I think!


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