Irish In America

Trip Start Aug 31, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Thursday, December 8, 2011

Today was my last lit class for the semester. It's definitely gotten on my nerves at times, but I've liked the majority of the books and have even loved some. The students in the class worked so well together, and combined with the brilliance of my Irish professor we have had many conversations enlightening, humorous, and confusing at the same time.

But today the class did some reverse traveling - we brought Ireland into America. Jim brought in biscuits popular in Ireland, because, as he joked, "When they aren't wasted the Irish love tea and biscuits."  As we ate our Fox's and Custard Creams he showed us a video by a band from his home county of Cork - "Where's Me Jumper?" by The Sultans of Ping FC. (Favorite line: "It's all right to say things will only get better - you haven't lost your brand new sweater.")

We tried to get Jim to speak in his real Irish accent and speak real Irish words, but instead he imitated the Tinkers, or Traveling Irish, a group of people that he lived near when growing up in Ireland.  Our discussion about Irish slang and dialects tied in wonderfully with our discussion of language in Star of the Sea.  We also talked about how the Irish don't see language as a way to communicate - they  understand that language represents the meaning of things better than it can effectively describe physicality.  For example, the Irish word for African people means "blue man" because the term "black man" means a devil – black to them is not a skin color, but more importantly shows evil and criminality and sin.  Another example is the meaning of their word for “whiskey” – “water of life”.  He also told us a story about the one time he had friends over and they were drinking, and his mom came downstairs at 3AM in her nightgown and hair curlers with a tray of tea and biscuits.  No one ever came to his house again, he said. xD

This class has slowly made me more and more proud to be Irish, and also more and more sad that I didn't grow up there.  Now I'm disappointed not to have grown up there from a writer's perspective, because I feel I would have a more accurate grasp of language.

However, it was a great end to this class =)

As a side note, I highly recommend Star of the Sea this book to everyone. It's by the Irish man Joseph O'Conner, brother to Sinead O'Conner.  Though it was published in 2002, and it's the first modern book I've seen where you can analyze it.  There's so much to it, things you usually only find in what we consider classics.  Even if you don't analyze it, it's a great story just to read.
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