| 16°C Dublin

Close

Premium


Irish-Americans nostalgic for the old country that no longer exists

Sheila Flynn


Despite being of immigrant stock themselves, a lot of Americans of Irish descent are diehard Trump supporters who share his views on race, writes Sheila Flynn

Close

Ireland has a long history with the United States

Ireland has a long history with the United States

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sheila Flynn as a young girl growing up Irish in the US

Sheila Flynn as a young girl growing up Irish in the US

/

Ireland has a long history with the United States

Growing up on Long Island, I was the most 'Irish' person I knew - and fiercely proud of it. My father was born and raised on the Cavan/Fermanagh border; my Bronx-born mother's dad was an immigrant from Monaghan and her maternal grandparents both grew up in Waterford. I ticked all the Irish-American boxes. Competitive Irish dancing. Playing trad music on the flute. Knowing all the lyrics to rebel songs and ballads. Never missing Mass. Attending Wolfe Tones and Paddy Reilly concerts. We had subscriptions to The Irish Echo and Long Island Catholic newspapers. Eventually, I graduated from the University of Notre Dame, home of the Fighting Irish - though even at the time I had a problem with their leprechaun mascot.

That Irish-American tendency to get shamrock and leprechaun tattoos, fly tricolours outside their houses and eat corned beef and cabbage on 'Patty's Day' always irritated me, but I had no concept of the attitude in Ireland towards the diaspora in the States until I moved to Dublin in 2006.

I was flabbergasted at the disdain - but it all made sense when I quickly learned the stark differences between Irish people and Irish-Americans. That's a given for everyone in Ireland, but I was oblivious - along with most Irish-Americans. Somehow, I'd made it to 24 years spending summers in Ireland and hosting cousins in the States without realising just how much Irish-Americans are the butt of jokes.