Irish Eyes Are Smiling

People assume because I am Irish that today is a big day for me. It’s not. Frankly, getting stinking shitfaced doesn’t seem like the best way to honor my ancestors. Maybe that’s how Latinos feel when everyone rallies around Cinco de Mayo and drinks too many margaritas or Pacificos?

As a white person I’ve always felt disconnected to my ethnicity. As a white person in America I am grouped as “Caucasian” and my ancestry isn’t taken into account. We are all the same, apparently, regardless if we are Polish, Austrian, British, Czech or Irish because our skin color matches. I am well aware of the innate privilege that comes with my skin color and at the same time, I’ve always envied my friends who would be deemed “people of color” because they have seem so connected to their lineage. I’m talking about my friends who are Chicana, Filipino, South African, Korean. . .they know more about where they came from. Me? I know that my Grandmother is Irish and my Grandfather is Irish/English from Chicago on my Mom’s side and my Dad’s parents were full Welsh living in Canada. There’s a big part of me that longs to connect to my ethnicity and learn more about where my people came from. Yes, I am Irish. But what does that mean? It’s my personal journey to discover it.

There’s one thing that I can count on every St. Patrick’s Day thanks to my Godmblarney stonesother, my Aunt Peg and that’s Blarney Stones. What, pray tell, is a blarney stone you ask? Well it’s a little cake frosted and rolled in peanuts. It’s salty sweet deliciousness. Every St. Patrick’s Day no matter where I live a small box with four little Blarney Stones arrives and I always look forward to it. Not just because it’s a tasty treat but because it’s a tradition that ties me to my family.

Tell me, what is your ethnicity?


60 thoughts on “Irish Eyes Are Smiling

  1. Ethnicity is an interesting thing. It’s how you are made, your composite ingredients, and the soil that made you. There’s a whole line of people who lived and died and fought, preceding you. That you are here is evidence of Love, and Life, and tenacity of hope and spirit. πŸ™‚

    My ethnicity is Scottish as well as Scotch/Irish, among a smattering of other stuff. As my Grandfather was a war orphan we don;t have traditions so much as an inherited sense of who we are, the pugnacious people we come from, and the ability to survive and make the best of things. Frugal, watchful, ego-maniacal, and clever with using what we have, those are my gifts.
    I know from historical gatherings that we are from a highland clan, and so our fighting spirit comes pretty naturally. We have a History, that has become disconnected to us since becoming Americans. It seems being American sometimes meant discarding nationality for sameness, and opportunity.

    It’s really nice that your aunt helps keep your family traditions alive. πŸ™‚ I miss those little things, now gone with my elders. It’s a sweetness that lingers within, long after the goodie is consumed.

  2. The brief amount of time that I lived in New York, a lot of that changed. Growing up Californian, we’re always just “caucasian”. Practically everyone I met would ask, “what are you?”. At first, I would say “uh, white.”. But then they would say “nooooo, what kind of white?”. It was like a rite of passage meeting someone and telling them your ethnicity.

    By the time i left Queens, I would meet people and say, “Hi I’m Hilary, Italian/Irish”.

  3. Mostly russian and ukranian. My mom was born in a refugee camp in Germany at the end of WWII so I’ve always been incredibly aware of where I come from. Instead of “we had to walk to school uphill, both ways” I got “we had to walk out of Russia with guns at our backs.” It was kinda difficult to complain in our family. πŸ™‚

  4. That is a wonderful tradition and dag gum does it sound and look tasty! My dad’s side is German, though there isn’t a German tradition to be found with us anywhere. My mom’s side is Lebanese and we enjoy a ton of Lebanese food. I was hummus when hummus wasn’t cool.

  5. I am very Irish, in case the red hair didn’t clue you in. I still have family in Ireland; aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. (I suggest a trip to Ireland, you won’t be disappointed.) My mother’s family is from Donegal town and my father’s family is from County Cork as best we can tell. I feel the same about St Patrick’s day. Why do I need to drink like a fish today to honor my family? But if I don’t have at least ONE drink I know my grandfather would be disappointed.


  6. I’m 1/4 irish, 1/4 english, 1/4 german and 1/4 italian. I look more italian than Don Corleone. I know that if it weren’t for Churchill (English), we’d all be speaking German.

    Glad that you want to be in touch with your ancestory (spelled right?).
    Now….how about you share one of those yummy looking Blarney stones with me.


  7. Blarney Stone looks yummers!

    I’m a white mutt. French, Dutch, English, German….and a few other whiteys I can’t remember. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m Irish, too. Fully. And I’m not a drinker, either, but I love St. Patty’s Day because I get to eat my weight in corned beef and potatoes. Yums!

  9. YUM! Recipe, please.

    My father is supposedly full-blood Irish.

    My mother claims Irish, Welsh, Oglala Lakota, and, as she decided to tell us at a recent family dinner, German. Oddly, none of us had heard that one before…

    My sister and I have decided that we’re like that credit card commercial where the father and son are convinced they’re one heritage and go to that country only to find out they’re something different…That’s so our family: If anyone took the time to do the research it’s probably turn out that we’re Swedish and Moroccan, or some other such combo.

  10. I am a Heinz 57 Canadian. My maiden name is Irish, but my parents are third/fourth generation Canadian, with a melting pot of European blood between them. Then I married a man who is half-Dutch (complete with a Dutch last name!) but his family has no traditions that are tied to their heritage. Except for Olly Bollen (deep fried bread, dipped in icing sugar) (Dutch food) and Mennonite Farmer Sausage (from his Mom’s side).

    It seems that it’s the food that shows the ethnicity, hey?

  11. Irish,
    my parents sought the same things, they honeymooned in Ireland, and for their twentieth anniversary, they took us 3 girls to Ireland to see some or our ancestry, it was truly special to see a graveyard full of dead relatives, especially as we were with our parents, only way it could have meant more would have been if our grandmother could have been there with us.

    (being dead, in a way she was…)

  12. The sad thing is…I don’t really know. Just one of those “white Americans.” I feel like I know more about my step-dad’s ethnicity than anyone’s. My real father had a German background (which I don’t really discuss with my Jewish in-laws!). My mother has never been able to tell me where her ancestors were from. She insists there’s a little Cherokee and then otherwise a mixture of Western European, as far as I know. Maybe I should research this. It makes me a little sad to not know.

  13. I’ve always had similar issues to my ethnicity. You see, I say I’m Ukrainian. Most everyone else would say I’m Jewish. To me, ethnicity isn’t tied to your religion. Where the heck is Jew? There is no country designating it. That’s my religion, not my ethnicity. Yet, of all religions, it seems Judaism is bulked in the same bundle. Here’s a typical conversation I’ve had a million times over in the past…

    Stranger: What’s your ethnicity – Italian?
    Me: No.
    Stranger: Greek?
    Me: No.
    Stranger: Jewish?
    Me: Uh, sure.

    I just don’t get it.

  14. I’m a mixed bag of English, Scottish, Dutch, French, German, maybe some Irish. So yeah, I’m a big ol’ white American.

  15. I’m about 6o% scottish, 35% Irish, and 5% german. But I’m, very connected with the Scots side of it. I know all the way back to 786, when it then branches off into France. I’m also so pale, that even compared to the normal caucasians people ask what the hell is wrong with me, and what is my background.

    My husband, on the otherhand – no idea beyond the whole “V’e are Ger’man.”

  16. The whole ethnicity question is interesting. My parents always kind of railed against it as if it was missing the point of being American, and I tend to agree with that. My ancestry is English, Welsh, Irish, and Scot’s Irish, but it doesn’t mean much to me other than some rather unusual stray names in the family tree.

  17. A British friend once joked that “All Americans think they are Irish.” Which is true in my case, I always used to tell people I was Irish. And while I’m definitely a European mix (Irish, French, German, English, etc.), ever since I lived in Scotland I’ve always pretty much just felt American.

  18. English, German, French and Welsh, or white, white, white and really white. I usually tell people that I am the human equivalent of Wonderbread- white, squishy and probably bad for you.

    Actually, both my nana’s family (maternal grandmother) and my Grand’s family (paternal grandmother) are from the same small European country of Alsace Lorraine. It’s, like, five hundred yards across, so what are the odds? The rest, maternal side, from England, paternal side, Wales. My adopted grandfather was from Hungary, and Kaply, originally Kapli, is Hungarian for teacher or priest.

    I am perpetually intrigued by family history. My dad still writes to his Hungarian cousins.

  19. Since I’m first generation American, I don’t have to trace my ancestry way back or quote it in halfs or quaters.
    Both my parents are from the western part of Nigeria in West Africa, their parents before them and so on…
    I realize everyday that I’m fortunate to have experiences from different cultures and countries etc.
    When I tell people I’m african american, I mean it literally, and it’s quite funny when they think I’m just trying to use the PC term for “black”.
    I really don’t care either way, but I hate having to explain the meaning of my name (Abbie is short for my real name-not abigail) and giving people the 411 on my background so these days I go with the flow and say I’m black.

  20. Being a Black American whose family has been here for several generations, I know that I cannot answer this questions definitively. Yes, the majority of my ancestors were from Africa but I also know that some of them were of Native American and European descent. The latter is difficult to categorize as they were often not a part of the family tree by choice.

  21. St. Patrick’s Day never did much for me, since there isn’t even a smidgen of Irish in me. Plus, I’ve never been fond of green, so I always got pinched at school. And that pissed me off.

    I am… Norwegian, Polish, German, Czech, and English.

  22. Family traditions are such fun things to have!! I have never tried a blarney before, but today seems like the perfect day to find one!! They don’t sell those at the supermarket do they?

    I wish I had some good memories from my ancestors. I have a cookbook recipe from a great-grandmother for rolls, but other than that, I don’t have much! I don’t want my great-grandchildren to have the same problem though. I want them to be able to get to know who they came from an what I was like! I found these life history videos that I can use to record my memories and memories of my relatives to keep these personalities in the family for… well, forever!

  23. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that, due to the fact that my ‘other than American ethnicity’ is at least three generations back at this point, it’s more honest for me to say that my ethnicity is ‘white East Coast/Midwestern American.’

  24. Yet another reason we ought to be neighbors or something– I want a blarney stone. Then again, I sort of want everything today.
    I’m Irish, too (and Italian). I drink the rest of the year, but not so much today. πŸ™‚

  25. I want a blarney stone! Recipes anyone?

    I’m Scottish and English, and a WHOLE LOT native American. My great grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee, but you can’t tell by looking at me. White as rice, with freckles and green eyes.

    In Oklahoma, though, everybody’s a native. So I’m hardly unique. But I love checking a different box on ethnicity surveys, even though everybody calls me caucasian.

    Mayberry Magpie.

  26. I am half British (and a dual citizen) and half Jewish (a quarter Polish and a quarter Russian). And I’m still conflicted as to how I feel about Jewish as an ethnicity. But it’s not a race or a culture for me and is still part of me so I assign it the title of ethnicity. And so it is.

    I used to love talking about how I was a first generation American when I was little and we learned about immigration. And I love that my kids get to be the same thing because their dad won’t be American either. So that connection to the roots still lives.

  27. Happy St Patricks day from the homeland πŸ™‚ yer more Irish over there than here, Blarney Stones cakes! impressive.

  28. Your Godmother sounds like an awesome lady. That is so thoughtful of her.

    What is my ethnicity? That’s so hard…..part Welsh…part Native American….

    But, in my heart, I feel German.

  29. I’m Venezuelan, and so are my parents and my grandparents. My gratgrandparents were Spanish and Portuguese.
    Living in the US has been a very interesting experience to me in terms of ethnicity, which is something I never really think about in Venezuela. For example, 5 de Mayo is not a holiday all Latin people celebrate, in fact I heard of it for the first time in the US. Apparently it’s the date for a war, part of the independence process of Mexico, and thus they celebrate it, but my Mexican friends have told me it’s more of a US thing because that battle was not one of the most important or relvant ones. It seems odd to me that people would expect me to celebrate it just because I speak Spanish. I’ve never been to Mexico in my life!
    Anyway, happy St. Patty’s Day, I hope you enjoyed your treats!

  30. I have more Choctaw than anything else (and boy, is there a family skeleton in that closet!), but I inherited my mother’s pale French skin. My oldest sister, who’s a ringer for Dad, shows the Native American blood more than any of the rest of us. I also get Cherokee from my mom and some English from my dad. No Irish that I know of! Which may be why I’m very “meh” about this holiday.

  31. I never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t know I had Irish blood in me. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I discovered (while doing the family genealogy) that my grandmother’s maiden name was McCombs.

    Now, I wear green all day on St. Patrick’s Day and eat Corned Beef and Cabbage. Which I discovered I really, really like.

  32. I thought about embracing my inner-Irish, but just gave up. I am truly Irish on my mom’s side though. Thing is, I was raised entirely by my dad’s side (Hungarian) so I know nothing about being Irish. And well, I don’t like beer (even if it’s green), I’m not a fan of corned beef and I can take or leave cabbage. I think the only truly Irish part of me is the potato-loving part πŸ˜‰

    Happy St. Pats!

  33. Irish and British, with a little Scottish thrown in, I think.

    Bailey and Red Hair…kinda a given w/ the Irish.

    My mom’s family was originally from England/Scotland, and I actually got the red hair from her side…my dad’s family was dark Irish.

  34. I’m 50% Irish and 50% Scottish. Yes, holidays were fun.
    My son? 25% each Irish and Scottish and 50% Chinese.

    As for today – I don’t so much celebrate the way I did in my younger years. More, wear a little green and be done with it πŸ™‚

    And Blarney Stones are good things. My Aunt makes them for me when she visits. You’re lucky to have had one recently.

  35. Wow, I can’t believe there are other Hungarians commenting! Seriously, I have not known another person of Hungarian descent since I lived in Ohio.
    I’m also Italian, English, and Russian. Maybe a bit of Czech as well. I look Eastern European (blue eyed and pale) with Italian hair (dark and curly).
    Maybe a tiny drop of Irish on the English side–but I might start celebrating if I can find a recipe for that cake! πŸ™‚

  36. In my area we have a Celtic Festival every fall and a really cool Irish Store/Deli on the Main.
    My mother was born in Mexico and settled here. I have to admit that I a true Dutchican because many of my family members are German, PA Dutch, Italian and Hungarian. So, I grew up with tacos and chicken paprikash. Yummmmy!

    On the other hand, my fiance is Polish. What do you get when you cross a mexican and a polish? Either a good joke or some pretty freaking beautiful children… yea. πŸ™‚

  37. The whitest Cuban you will ever meet. It is very strange looking like an Italian with a Latin background and not speaking perfect Spanish…..alienating and cool. I am Latin among whites and white among Latins.

  38. That looks delicious, what a great tradition. Is there a recipe that you can share?

    I am half German, half Russian. But we have no traditions other than that my dad taught me to swear and say a few phrases in Russian.

  39. In high school we had a foreign exchange student from Norway. Or maybe Sweden. I told her that I was Norwegian and she got very excited until she learned that, um, that was three generations ago. She found the idea of heritage so interesting in America where everyone claims what they are because she didn’t really see it. She thought now that we lived in the US, we were just Americans. But us Americans are so proud of our heritage, I guess. Me? I’m Norwegian and Sweedish exclusively from my ma and English, French, German…and some other odds and ends from my father. My father’s family is traced to America all the way to the 1600s! My maternal grandma, on the other hand, didn’t learn English until she started school. So that’s more than you wanted to know, eh? I just find it interesting! πŸ™‚

  40. Sorry I’m late on all this stuff. Well I am 50 per cent English (third generation.) My mom’s side is more interesting. I am from one of the first French families to settle in Canada, which means (unofficially to my grandmother) a fair bit of First Nations and no doubt a tad of Irish blood as well. To her I am part Acadian and part QuΓ©becoise.

    Funny thing, she is rather ashamed of her Acadien roots. Me I’m still pissed off about the deportation of 1755. Which kind of puts me at odds with myself. Which explains a lot I think.

  41. I am also of Irish and Welsh decent, with some Dutch thrown in for good measure – however, I am South African by birth and at least 3 generations, but a white one at that ;-).

  42. My family has been in Canada so long, it’s hard for me to think of myself as anything else. Go back several generations, I am English, Welsh, Irish and French.

  43. I’m adopted, so unfortunately, I don’t really know for sure but I’ve been told that I have some German and English in me, just from my appearance.

Comments are closed.