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.
To make a sweeping generalisation, Ireland is liberal, modern and more globally aware. Irish America is more religious, more conservative, wildly patriotic when it comes to both countries - and churning out a lot of die-hard Trump supporters.
From my experience - working as a journalist in Ireland for more than a decade and returning to the States three years ago - I have a few thoughts as to why.
I moved to Ireland as a cub reporter in 2006 because I was living and working in Dallas - for my dream company out of college - but I could see the path my life was going to take. I'd have minimal vacation, I'd be stuck in cities I hated for the best years of my youth, and then I'd settle down with a mortgage and a family and a two-week holiday a year to - probably - Florida.
I looked at my Irish cousins taking gap years and moving to places like Dubai and New Zealand. I packed my Irish passport, got a job in communications in Dublin and gave myself a year to freelance and learn the journalistic lay of the land. I needed it. I couldn't pronounce Taoiseach. I didn't know what the Oireachtas was.
So I learned about road frontage. I found out that no one really wants to talk about the Troubles or the Brits or the North, even though I'd been raised with 26+6=1 bumper stickers in my locker and the misconception that everyone in Ireland is obsessed with reunification.
More than 10 years later, I had reported on major national stories from every county in Ireland. And being Irish-American actually helped me get through a lot of doors.
The Irish in the States have always been particularly closely wedded, though, to what they consider their ethnic history. A lot of that has to do with Catholicism. Irish-Americans are holding on to the same values of Catholicism brought over in the 1800s and early 1900s by their immigrant ancestors.
The anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiment their great- or great-great-grandparents faced engendered an us-against-them mentality, and that has been generationally passed down, often buried deep in the subconscious.
As the abuse scandals and the laundries revelations rocked Ireland, Irish-Americans were generally steadfast in their devotion. I have Irish-American friends and relatives who will refuse to watch the films Spotlight or Philomena. The scandals were overblown, they'll argue; the media is liberal and anti-Catholic and out to get the church. "You never hear about rabbis abusing children," is one (false) argument I've heard.
Many Irish-Americans are single-issue voters. If a presidential candidate is staunchly anti-abortion, that is who they will vote for. And Trump tapped into that.
Kellyanne Conway and Mick Mulvaney? Just like me, products of the East Coast Catholic school system. Every date and male friend I had as a teen came from the all-boys' Catholic high school on Long Island once attended by Bill O'Reilly, star of Fox News, before his fall from grace. The academic education is wonderful in these places but the communities are insular.
Even the traditional Irish-American Democratic base from the Kennedy years has skewed more Republican/Conservative in recent decades. It's because they've climbed the socioeconomic ladder, able to afford increasingly expensive schools.
Trump's policies favour the middle class; even I have ended up with more money in my pocket than I would have under Obama (I'm registered as an Independent and don't like to share my political leanings but will happily announce that I did not vote for Trump.)
Because Irish-Americans have advanced while clinging to their immigrant history, however, many also buy in to Trump's anti-illegal (his words) immigrant rhetoric. Their families, they argue, moved to America the 'right' way. (The undocumented Irish seem to not figure in their thought process.) They earned everything they have in their comfortable lives. Why can't immigrants now? They'll deny that these beliefs have anything to do with skin colour.
When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, forget it: there's a fundamental disconnect. For a group that loves talking about historical British persecution, on top of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment in America, there's a distinct absence of empathy - or even effort to understand.
Many middle-class Irish-Americans know or are related to cops and first responders. Battle lines have been drawn here: you're either Blue Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter. In Massachusetts and New York, where I've spent time during quarantine, Blue Lives Matter flags are usually accompanied by Trump paraphernalia and, often, tricolours or shamrocks.
But the pendulum swings both ways. Many Irish-Americans - usually with closer and more recent ties - criticise Ireland for becoming so liberal and, dare I say, tolerant. They are nostalgic for an Ireland that no longer exists, holding onto outdated ideas brought over multiple generations ago.
When the same-sex marriage referendum vote was passed in 2015, it was one of my favourite memories in Dublin. But I didn't dare bring up the conversation with my Irish-American friends and family. Ireland has lost its morality and its way, they said.
Talking last week with the Irish-American mother of a friend on Cape Cod, I said I was writing about the social and political differences between Irish-Americans and Irish people. "Oh - Ireland is way more conservative than the States, isn't it?" she said.
I don't see anything changing any time soon. Irish-American support for Trump will remain strong. I moved back to the States for a job the month after his inauguration and I cannot believe the world I am looking at right now.
I wasn't surprised by his election - I'd also been a reporter in Texas, Alabama and Indiana, Trump strongholds.
The division at the moment I find terrifying. And I've never missed the real, modern Ireland more.