MY parents, my husband and I recently visited the heritage centre in Skibbereen on our way back from a weekend in Baltimore, and though the famine stories told there by their in-house host were of a pain and misery unrivalled, I felt through the sadness another feeling, deeper than the all-encompassing sorrow and that was pride.
A burning national pride. The famine was only a 150 years ago and when you look at our Ireland, this lit up, wifi’d, commercial, bustling, gastro Ireland it feels like that was the Ireland of a thousand years ago.
I felt so much dignity at our collective national resilience.
Look at how far we’ve come — look at how hard we’ve worked — look at where we are now when only three or four generations ago people were being sentenced to death for being poor.
So what can we do about it now?
What can we, the Irish people of 2018 give them now?
Well, some of us can stop pretending to be American to begin with.
I am, as I’m sure most are, very proud to be Irish. Hence my complete bafflement at the phenomena that is Irish people speaking in this new made up accent and using far too many Americanisms.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying people are going around speaking like Frank Sinatra but I am saying there is a new accent in the major cities. It’s difficult to describe perfectly but here in Cork it’s a sort of nasal Montenotte meets the mid-Atlantic and what is truly stunning about it is this new accent is almost always accompanied by substantially elevated levels of Americanisms.
Are people from Ballincollig really “touching base” with the office while they watch their kid (not child) do an “awesome job”. They have their own version in Dublin and Galway (see bloggers for deets)
Yes, there is an infectious oral disease among some people of my generation on this Atlantic salty rock and that is speaking in a way that makes us seem like we are 4ish instead of 4000ish miles off the coast of our western neighbour.
I’m not expecting us to speak like the wild rural women of Reeling in the Years, with their one too many headscarfs tied under their chin and their three too little teeth, of course speech and turns of phrase change over generations, but shouldn’t it be gradual and natural, a sort of linguistical soil creep?
Yet our language has accelerated in American at an astronomical rate.
There are people living in this country relatively close to their parents who sound utterly dissimilar to them, doesn’t that have to be a conscious decision?
I have met so many times through my work a Cliana or a Sinead, living in or around the city but raised in Banteer or Kanturk or some other rural place and they say to me:
“Mom is coming up the next day to help out with the baby”.
The baby who is called Taylor or Tyler or Mason or some other trade.
I’m looking forward to a time these trade names grow in diversity — Panel beater and his brother Handyman.
Also, just to note if while growing up it was ever “Mam” it sure as sunny-side-up eggs isn’t now. Its preferably Mom, occasionally Mum but NEVER Mam.
And on our next meeting to hear them together, mother and daughter, I cannot focus on what either are saying because the huge discrepancy in delivery draws all my attention.
All the while Taylor Swift is astonishing the nation with her profound lyrics playing on the radio in the background. Apparently, she stays out too late and has nothing in her brain, well, that’s what people say. You won’t hear any arguments here, Taylor.
But musical difference of opinion aside, our interest in American life and even politics is starting to greatly out way our own.
So I ask you, this evening if you have children, ask them who the president of America is, and then ask them can they name our President? Do they know who the Taoiseach is?
Evolution is a constant, it is necessary and it is positive, but I can’t help thinking that there is a sub-conscious thought cycle among some of us that Ireland is slow and small and America is fast and big and faster and bigger is always better.
Don’t misunderstand me, this is not an attack on America. America is fascinating place and they have achieved some termendous feats, but so have we, and on much less of a population.
So why, if we are both great independent nations is it us “24/7 waiting in line for Regular Americanos”?
I guess I’m just reaching out to you guys to say lets totally embrace all the awesome stuff America has to offer us, but going forward lets just give it our best shot to like, stay true to ourselves, cause there’s like, 326 million of them and there’s only like, 5 million of us so, you know….. you do the math.
* Aisling O’Donovan lives in East Cork, is married to a dairy farmer and is a self-employed hairdresser and yoga teacher.