Posts Tagged ‘Irish’

Who gets to define you? My first step into studying Buddhism asked this very question in a different way – how would you describe yourself? Easier maybe than a definition. I’m a nana and mother, a writer, a wife, stringer etc…easy. These are the simple ways, stating what you DO in the world rather than who you are!

An old friend from high school was visiting this weekend, and though our hair has turned a pale blondish white, we stood out in high school because we were both redheads. Being a “Redhead” has a certain cache. But when I was little I hated my hair, I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to fit in and belong. I wanted black hair like Snow White!

Edie and I were also both raised as the one and “Only” child in our families. Does that define us?

I woke up this morning to National Geographic’s special edition on Race through an Instagram video. They contend that science defines us by our DNA, but the environment, our culture defines us by the color of our skin. Their mission is to make us re-examine that paradigm; their example was a pair of fraternal twin girls, about ten years old.

The April edition of the magazine, The Race Issue, features a pair of black and white fraternal twin sisters from the United Kingdom, Marcia and Millie Biggs, on the cover (more here). The Biggs twins on the cover are a catalyst for readers to rethink what they know about race. The full issue is available now at natgeo.com/TheRaceIssue.

Now you know, and I know my DNA because I spit in a tube and sent my sample to Ancestry. Although I really didn’t need to know I was almost 100% Irish, because the priest at Sacred Heart School always told me I had the map of Ireland on my face! And I was mortified whenever he picked me out in class, although I’m sure it was meant as a compliment.

When our L’il Pumpkin was born with my exact shade of flaming strawberry blonde hair I was determined to help him feel proud about his carrot top. Well either that or ignore it altogether. But how will his ghostly white skin affect his journey through life? Will his schoolmates tease him when he’s putting on sunscreen before playing baseball? Will he yearn to have brown skin like some of his friends?

I remember when we visited Duke on the Bride’s college tour, and the Rocker, only 13 at the time, watched a group of African students walk by in colorful traditional dress. He thought it was so cool. Isn’t this what we want for our children, to enlarge their cultural influences, to expand their minds beyond a neighborhood of white privilege.

With our nation so divided – by political party, by religion, by geography – I wonder if we can turn inward to see what in fact we all share. Has Mr T unleashed this underbelly of white-neo-nazi terror in order to make us choose sides? Can we reject that? I choose to embrace our common sense of decency and civility, our humanity. We ALL want better schools for our children, schools without guns and active shooter drills. We ALL deserve comprehensive healthcare.

America, in our many shades of white/beige/brown/black, is at a tipping point. On the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s murder, I remember marching in the streets of Boston with my black armband. I was a college student then, and I would have defined myself as a “Dancer!”

Here is our superhero Spiderman. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to see Black Panther.


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Happy St Patrick’s Day to you and yours. It doesn’t matter if you make corned beef and cabbage tonight, or soda bread – recipe for the authentic loaf here: http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to-make-real-irish-soda-bread.aspx

And it’s OK not to wear green, or drink a green beer, or eat a green bagel either.

Just pucker up and kiss me if you see me today, cause I’m Irish and worthy of a little smooch!

The priest at Sacred Heart Parish told me I had “The map of Ireland all over your face!” One of my first memories in fact, after Sister Mary Claire in 1st Grade smacking my knees with a ruler for chewing gum in Mass, was being singled out in class for my looks. Nobody laughed, thankfully. The priest’s comment was meant as a compliment I’m sure, but it left me wishing I could blend into the woodwork.

With my red hair, and the freckles all over my nose…I prayed for dark hair, to be like everyone else.

But that didn’t work, and so I grew into my Irishness. After all, it’s rare today to find anyone 100% anything, we are all a conglomeration of ethnic genes in this country, a rainbow of assimilated cultures. Our diversity is what makes us strong. And my wish has come true btw, we have a little ginger grandson! Who is so handsome, the Bride will need a shillelagh to beat the girls away from him (this was a saying in the Flapper’s house about my brother Michael, (let it be said I’m against domestic violence of any sort)!!

And for the first time ever, this year the LGBT community could march in the Boston parade. So let’s all celebrate today because we’ve got a great Pope, the crocus are up, and Spring is right around the corner. Because it’s good for the species to be different. Yesterday it was 80 in Cville!

And I’ll raise a glass of tea to Bob, who is like a saint. He can single-handedly remove poisonous snakes from our yard and find anything I happen to lose.

Here is a picture of me with the Lynn matriarch in Ballina County Mayo, “God Help Us.” I was just getting over West Nile on my first trip to Ireland, and this is our family’s ancestral home on 600 acres. The barn is bigger than the house, and like the Irish people, our hearts are bigger than anything!  Chris and Mary Gilboy Old Homestead 20150317 BIf you’d like to follow my Kiss Me I’m Irish Board on Pinterest, I’m @mpjamma

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I am going to sit on a rock near some water

The Ivy Farms Book Club has asked its members to bring a poem to share at the next meeting. I chose to bring a poem by Billy Collins, our ex-Poet Laureate, who will be a keynote speaker at the KilKenny Arts Festival in Ireland this year. http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/billy-collins-when-i-start-a-poem-i-assume-the-indifference-of-readers-1.1891332?page=1

“When I start a poem, I assume the indifference of readers,” he says. “That there might even be a touch of hostility. There is a line from a Patrick Kavanagh poem that really resonates. It goes: ‘Tomorrow’s Wednesday. Who cares?’ Well, the reader can’t be expected to be interested in your life, the life of a stranger. The job of the poet is to seduce the reader, to make sure they are interested, to make something happen for them that is unexpected.”

When I write I rarely think about the reader, about cajoling her or him to like me or the content. I admit as a journalist I sometimes did, but today I write to make sense of things, I write to flex a muscle in my mind. I figure if the reader doesn’t like what I’m saying, he’ll stop reading! I hope this doesn’t seem cruel dear reader, but I’d rather not presume anything as I begin to write. That’s why I won’t check email or social media when I sit at my desk – later for that. I like to leave that morning space open for the muse of inspiration which will sometimes take hold of my fingers and take me in another direction.

Still I understand poetry may need a bit of a nudge. I like Mr Collins simply because he abhors obscurity or obfuscation in his verse. If he happens to be chopping parsley while listening or thinking about something else, it will find its way into his poem. And he is not writing for someone in an ivory tower, he feels the need to “seduce” us, the general public, with his words. And who doesn’t like to be seduced?

and I am going to stop talking

Last night Bob and I were laying out on the deck in total darkness, we were moon bathing. We wanted to see some shooting stars because it was time for the Perseid meteor shower. It was a perfectly clear night; we stopped talking and watched the enormity of the sky and its brilliant stars. On cue, stars began streaming from one spot in the solar system to another, in the constellation Leo, lying northeast of our ridgeline. I began to understand VanGogh. images

Then Bob said, “Do you hear that?” It was the sawing, symphonic sound of tree frogs chittering away at the edges of our star show. And the silence was broken as he told me more about his boyhood time at Four Bridges, and how much he loved that sound in the midsummer night.

I Love the sound of your voice

like a little saxophone

telling me what I could never know

unless I dug a hole all the way down

through the core of my self 

That was a verse in Collins’ poem “Orient. The other snippets are from “A Question About Birds.”                    Everyday Moments Caught in Time  

Sitting on a Bench to Watch Geese

Sitting on a Bench to Watch Geese


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We’ve all heard them. Ethnic jokes weave seamlessly through our society. I cut my teeth on Polish jokes, like, “How many Poles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” I didn’t even know any Polish people, but I sat with the Irish girls in the mess hall at Camp St Joseph. And we had a distinct rivalry with the Italian girls. Just don’t ask me to tell a joke, I’ll screw up the punch line before you can say “Was that supposed to be funny?”

Then I married a Jewish guy. And one day in the 90s, when the Bride was studying to be a Bat Mitzvah, I found myself in the Temple when the world’s first woman rabbi, our very own Monmouth Reform Rabbi Sally Priesand, gave us a lecture sermon about Jewish American Princess (JAP) jokes. Priesand-SallyShe told us they weren’t really funny, they were distortions of a stereotype. They were ugly, thinly veiled anti-woman, antiSemitic nonsense that we would perpetuate by spreading around our community.

Sally said these jokes are insulting, and she asked us to stop someone who was telling a JAP joke, and explain our distaste. “Silence and indifference” helped fuel hatred around Europe in the buildup to WWII…I saw the light.

I had always hated dumb blond jokes. My feminist fire was forged on this stuff! I thought sexist, ethnic humor had been laid to rest, finally. But now we have a Bravo series about Long Island Princesses that is equally stupid and insulting. And recently I received one of those long email forwards titled, “On Being Jewish.” Maybe you’ve seen it in your inbox?

Q: Have you seen the newest Jewish-American-Princess horror movie?
A: It’s called “Debbie Does Dishes.”

There were lots more where that came from, and I challenged the sender. I told her that I find that kind of humor offensive. I deleted it. I think she understood.

On this 50th Anniversary of the assassination of our first Irish American President, I came across this article about Irish jokes in the Irish Central online magazine. And now I have to think about the subtle things we say about being Irish. Even our new VA Gov Terry McAuliffe was quoted: “as an Irish Catholic I’m adept at taking people out for drinks and doing whatever it takes to get things done.” Let’s all stop perpetuating stereotypes shall we.

Now a female priest and a male rabbi walk into a bar….hey with this Pope, we can dream can’t we.

Read more: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/Top-insulting-Irish-signs-and-jokes-need-to-stop-PHOTOS-232720221.html#ixzz2lZWNDfYX
Follow us: @IrishCentral on Twitter | IrishCentral on Facebook

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We’ve been to Ireland twice. The first time right after I survived my bout with West Nile, and the second time was to take the newly graduated Bride on a trip to our ancestral homeland. It was my brother, Michael E, who dug up the Lynn Family tree. The original Michael J Lynn has his portrait on a wall in some bank in Pawley County, PA. It is said he was a “…Democrat, broad and liberal in his views, …filled the offices of collector, an overseer of the poor, and overseer of roads.”

He was a son of a cattle dealer in Ireland, who came over from Mayo to Scranton, PA in 1854 with “…four pounds sterling.” Or about $20. Starting out in the coal mines, he built a mini-empire of farming, lumbering and a butchering business; he owned over 200 acres of land. Michael H Lynn was the second born son, one of 15 children. My Grandfather took over the cattle business. I believe it was frowned upon when my Father, Robert, decided to study pharmacy instead of the meat business. And it was doubly frowned upon by his family when my Father married the Flapper. A widow with 2 children. She may not have been born high enough for their Irish Catholic tastes.

The Irish Cousins

Mary Gilboy is our remaining cousin in Ballina, Ireland; she is a beautiful woman, a widow in her 80s. She was a teacher of Irish who lives on the sheep farm her Husband worked with her son, John. They have a black and white border collie who likes to wind down a day of sheep herding by watching TV in the evening. She has 2 daughters, Deirdre and Fiona. Deirdre owns the “Wild Haven” youth hostel on Achill Island, and Fiona’s family make rugs in the Gaelic way: http://www.ceadogan.ie/.
Mary has brought us to see the Lynn Family Homestead and been wonderfully hospitable on our visits.

The Irish Christmas package is speeding along across the ocean with my long letter and a few CDs of “Dogs” for the kids. And now I can feel the ancient pull of family, the tidal yearning for belonging. No matter the separation, we Lynns are a strong and brave breed.

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