One thing important to know about me is that I am 3/4ths Irish. My eight great grandparents were Schuster, Reiter, McDonough and McMeel on my dad’s side and Healy, O’Brien, Quinn and Cunningham on my mom’s side. Like many a modern American, my ethnic past was not too important as I was building a career and being a father and spouse and exploring the world. I knew I had some Irish in me and some German, and did not see its importance. It was quaint to know I could call his mom Irish, and she liked beer and having fun.
Little did I know.
All that changed when I began to see the importance of ethnic identity for a person’s well-being and self-knowledge. A professor at Saybrook, Jurgen Kremer, taught him about the field called ethno-autobiography. Kremer recommends to the large number of modern Caucasions who have ethnic amnesia to “de-construct their whiteness” and realize their roots. When on a trip to Ireland with Rita, my mom, in 2004, I could see her starting to reclaim the songs of her youth. The tour guide would sing an old Irish song and my mom could sing along, tapping into a neural network and memory that had long been lost, and my sisters and wife and I would sit in amazement as her Irishness, our Irishness, came up to the surface.
When I saw that level of amnesia, when I say how much had been lost over the generations, in my family, from the famine in the 1840’s to my life 100 plus years later, I got more than curious. I got obsessed.
So, below, under “Related Links” are the links to three papers I ended up writing after a lot of research into the question.
The first is a short version of a paper called “Soul Retrieval through Irish American History.”
The second is the first chapter of my Masters project for Dr. James Hollis on The Celtic Imagination. It starts with a bit of a ribald story from a scandalous event in my high school years. It goes on to describe how the energies within us, the receptive/connecting kind and the assertive/creating kind (aka masculine and feminine energies), have been messed up by modern values. The full title is “Children of the Lost Feminine and the Distorted Masculine: Celtic Imagination as a Healing Force.” Kind of a mouthful, but that is what I am sticking with.
And the third is paper, written for credit like the others so it has footnotes and all, on the history of the Irish and Irish Americans and why all ethnic history is important.