Sunday, 6 November 2016

On Being Half-Irish but not Really

“I’m half-Irish” I tell people who ask.
“Half-English, half-Irish,” I say with a smile on my face.

Sometimes, I wonder about my connection to Ireland. It’s tenuous at best. My Grandfather was Irish, but my Grandmother was Welsh, and even though they settled down in Ireland (Northern Ireland at that), they travelled all over the world while my father was growing up. He was born in Germany on a British Overseas military base, and lived most of his life in Singapore. As a result, he has no Irish accent. I myself was born in Bristol and have lived in England my whole life.

I don’t have the stereotypical ginger hair, although some of my family members do. I have brown hair and brown eyes, which I’ve heard come from my Grandmother. I look so much like my father that it gets commented on a lot. I’ve been mistaken for European before, which confuses me. My skin burns easily, but with a slight tan I look Mediterranean? I’m not sure, since I wouldn’t say so myself.

At least my last name is so obviously Irish that it is instantly recognisable when mentioned. “Oh, you must be Irish!” a lot of people say. I smile, and bring out the reply “Half-Irish.” I’ve been to Northern Ireland once to visit relatives, but that’s it. I do know an aunt of mine, my father’s sister, was in Omagh during the bombing. She’s actually got the Irish accent that most of my family lack. She’s also about the only family member still living in Northern Ireland.

I guess what I’m asking here is, does anyone else have a part of their heritage they feel somewhat distant from?

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