There’s something about being away from your homeland than makes you feel a lot more attached to it. I feel so much more Irish since I’ve lived outside of Ireland! And I think sometimes I must be exaggerating in my brain how lovely it is at home because if it was that lovely why did I leave!?
I was born in Ireland in 1984. To be honest I can’t tell you much about the country in those times! I went to a catholic girls school because that was the norm. As far as I know there was only one school that was for non catholic children back then. I went on to yet another catholic girls school for secondary education. While at both schools there was a big emphasis on religion and we would go to the church often and have school masses and all that jazz. While at school we used to learn our prayers and hymns in the Irish language. I can still reel off the “Our Father” in Irish (Ár nAthaír) or sing some of “Céad Mile Failte Romhat a íosa” which was a hymn at my First Holy Communion all those years ago!
In my teens I went on a cheap package holiday to Tenerife with my mum, sisters and my best friend. Me and my friend would sneak out in the evenings and go to clubs and to the Irish bar. Here we kinda fell in love with the idea of Ireland through hearing the old songs and laments in the bar. Each night we would be singing along to the rebellious Wolfe Tones songs or other Irish classics like “The Irish Rover” or “Ride On” and it started to feel kind of nice to be a part of this little Irish community in another part of the world.
Irish music really gets to me nowadays, when I hear the old rebel songs or the really old songs about the beauty of Ireland or Irish women I get all nostalgic! I feel like I’ve been away from Ireland for a long time even though it’s only been 13 months! I think I had left Ireland behind in my head a long time before I left the country though. For years I listened to American rap and hiphop and then British grime and rap, I immersed myself in different cultures, dialects and beliefs through this music. I’m not saying I want to be some freak who listens to old Irish music all day but sometimes when I’m in the mood il put on some of my favourite pieces from Riverdance, or listen to some Christy Moore and I really enjoy it! Irish musicians and composers are some of the best in the world (maybe I’m biased but I don’t care) and the music can sometimes be so haunting and beautiful. Anything with the harp, tin whistle, bodhrán or uilleann pipes is so typically Irish.
More recently I heard of the Dropkick Murphys song “Shipping Out To Boston” and it reminded me of that musical part below deck in the movie Titanic where they are with the lower class Irish drinking Guinness and doing Irish dancing. The energy in both pieces and yet the Irish feel from the music it just makes me feel proud and honoured that I am Irish and that we are talented!
Now when I’m having a bad day,or sometimes even a good day, I will go on YouTube and find some nice Irish music to get in my brain and help me feel close to home and to our heritage. No matter where I end up living and what culture my partner is from I am still planning to keep my Irishness alive and pass it down to my children. I will want them to know their history and background, teach them the old folklore stories, the music and poems I loved. It could be a little while before that happens but when my baby is in my tummy il be piping them some calming Enya or a verse of “Oró Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile”.
I guess when you are away from your home country you get to enjoy it for what it is, without the daily pressures of life clouding your judgement. I for one am proud to be Irish and will continue to be for the rest of my life!