Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Canadian Citizen residing in Alabama Visiting Ireland

"How did you end up here?" he asked curiously. Good question.

The fishing guide at the trout farm of Araglen Valley, County Cork had good reason to ask. What was an Irish-looking, Albertan girl, with a home in Gurley, doing in Araglen? It was a strange mixture of experiences and cultures to be sure.

What added to the confusion was my dark hair and fair skin. I looked as though I belonged. My second day in Fermoy, an Irish man asked me the parking regulations along the River Blackwater. He recognized his error when the non-Irish words left my mouth, but I have to say it was a very warming experience to be supposed a local. "I could belong here," I thought. "These are my people." I remember Craig mentioning the same feeling when he visited Denmark - "they all look like me" he commented and now I can understand how that is unusual and affirming in a weird way.

Of course, had Thomas McGrath decided to stay put throughout the potato famine of the 1850's, some version of me could very well reside to the North closer to Belfast. I would be a "McGra" without the "th".

Another reason it felt as though I belonged in Ireland was because the trip brought my family unit back together. It was as though all four of us let out a huge sigh of relief. Having Craig leave us in June and still be in Fermoy in late August has been unsettling to say the least. All of the jumbled up cultures, languages and backgrounds melted away when I settled into my family unit. In those moments I most closely identified with being together and the physical location, the birthplace, the residence were all irrelevant. "Home is where the heart is ...."

No comments: