Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy Green Beer Day!

As careful readers of my blog may have figured out, I am a bit of a Hibernophile. Oh, heck, who am I kidding? I'm totally obsessed with Ireland and have been since I was ten. I saved my pennies to go for a summer program in Dublin when I was 15. Two years later, I conned someone into paying for a "peace activism conference" that was supposed to solve international conflicts but ended up being a two-week-long drinking session fueled by lots of cheap Russian vodka. In college, I did a junior year abroad in Dublin. I've been back twice since, once for two weeks and once for a month. I don't at all consider Ireland a second home and am not even sure I could live there permanently, but I'm deeply enamored of the place. I don't know where this comes from: I'm not Irish-American, and I don't think I've fallen for the whole sentimental shamrocks and leprechauns thing. My obsessions are as mysterious to me as they are to anyone else.

As a sad, sick Hibernophile, I have generally not been a big fan of St. Patrick's Day. It's too plastic, too commercialized, too dependent on creepy Irish-American stereotypes about Ireland rather than anything genuinely Irish. But I'm slowly begining to come around. Part of it, I think, is that I've stopped being hung up on authenticity. There's nothing really Irish about St. Patrick's Day as celebrated in the U.S., but it is truly Irish-American, and Irish-American culture is an interesting phenomenon in its own right. And there's actually something a bit fascinating about how ethnic cultures get commodified in America. It's not a new phenomenon at all, and it's an important and understudied part of American ethnic history. Instead of being annoyed about green bagels and shamrock shakes, I'm going to see it all as part of the way in which ethnicity gets mangled and recast and sold back to us as something totally new.

So in honor of my new tolerance for St. Patrick's Day, here are some of my favorite Irish links. Sorry there's no green beer or leprechauns.

First of all, as part of their St. Patrick's Day Project, the Institute of Irish Studies at Queens University Belfast wants to know how (and if) you celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Fill out their questionnaire and send them pictures!

Even if you don't like Irish traditional music, you should check outMartin Hayes and Dennis Cahill .They're true to the tradition, but they're also influenced by their classical, blues and jazz training.

On a similar note, Fermanagh-born, Chicago-based flutist Laurence Nugent is awesome.

And lest you think I only like the diddly-dee school of Irish music, I give you The Undertones. (Warning: that link has music. Mute your computer if you're in the library or your boss is around.)

I haven't yet been able to make Phantom FM's internet stream work for me, but maybe you'll have better luck. It's supposed to be a great way to hear new Irish (pop, not trad) music. Phantom is currently pirate but has been issued a license and will be 100% legit starting this summer. Why isn't there more pirate radio in the U.S., by the way?

I think that Hob Nobs may actually be English, not Irish, but I practically lived on them when I was in Ireland and every time I go to Ireland I bring an extra duffel so I can take loads of them back. They are the biscuits of the gods, and they are even better dunked in tea.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?