Local knowledge

I am Irish American, as I think I may have mentioned (and if I didn't, I imagine the name gave it away). I have spent a decent amount of time in the Irish-American community (think Irish dance lessons and traditional music performances), and my family has certainly spent much more.

As you may know, Irish people have a certain disdain for Irish Americans and their romantic conception of a largely imaginary Emerald Isle. Irish Americans who talk about Ireland are frequently derided as ignoramuses who know little about the actual Ireland, and operate under the delusion that their heritage, or perhaps their gene, qualify them to opine on it. Fair 'nough; I love me some cable knit sweaters, but frankly even I'm a little sick of all the "Celtic and Irish Handicraft" outlets springing up like shamrocks after an Irish rain in the malls of America.

I was, however, a little taken aback to experience the reverse phenomenon when discussing, with an Irishman in a bar, the fact that some Irish Americans still supported the IRA even after 9/11, a fact that I find more than a little shameful. Of course, I come from perhaps the only Irish American family in the world that gives money to the SDLP. But I digress.

But that's so 1990's, he said. Everything's different now. You don't know what you're talking about. This roughly echoes something Kieran Healy said when I posted on the subject several months ago.

Indeed, much has changed in Ireland. But we weren't discussing Ireland. We were discussing America. And I know a lot more about being a third-or-more generation Irish person in American than he, or Mr Healy does. Nonetheless, I went back and checked with other sources in the Irish American community.

Yup, indeed, donation to the IRA continued long after 9/11, with an explicitly martial tone to the solicitations.

Now I'm trying to figure out who's got the mote, and who's got the beam. God bless the Irish . . . no one else will.