As my year in America draws to a close, I have begun to reflect upon the different types of Americans I have met over the course of the last 9 months. The reception I have received as an Irish person has been overwhelmingly positive, however certain patterns have emerged when people find out that I am Irish.
I have compiled a list of the different types of “Irish-Americans” you are bound to bump into today, on St. Patrick’s Day (not St. Patty’s), after a few pints of Guinness have been consumed.
1. Claim to Royalty
The person who claims to be the heir of a powerful and mystical Irish dynasty yet has about as much evidence to back up this claim as I will have green drinks today (zero).
I have been stuck in many a conversation, where a person is at pains to explain that their mother’s-father’s-brother was born in Ireland (or once ate a potato), and sure, begod, they are a 100% Paddy. Really lads, you are fooling no one.
Such people are also partial to questions like “Do you say ‘Top of the morning to ya!’ in Ireland?” or “Are leprechauns real?”. The answer to both, of course, is no.
3. Actual Irish
It would not be fair to slate every Irish-American, many people do have a legitimate connection to the Emerald Isle whether they were born there, are first-generation American or moved to Ireland.
4. Informed but Terrible Pronunciation
“Oh yes, I am related to the Burke’s of Galway”. Every American that has ever existed has mispronounced Galway, which sounds more like “gaul” instead of “gal”, but usually I cannot bring myself to correct a person who has gone to the trouble of researching their ancestry.
5. The Paddywagoners
The people who are the product of the popular “Paddywagon” bus tours in Ireland, which zip around the coast of the country in a couple of days giving passengers the impression that they came, they saw, they conquered. In reality, these tours cover only a fraction of our country, and often miss the hidden little gems that make up the Irish charm, like the towns and villages, you pass along the way.
St. Patrick’s Day is about uniting home and abroad, and giving “Irish” people the chance to celebrate their country and have a bit of craic. So really, if a person is proud to claim heritage from our mighty, little country, I am not going to rain on their parade. As we say in Ireland, Lá Fhéile Pádraig!