In Chapter 19 of Up She Rises, Rachel impresses Peggy, a fellow teacher, by singing along to the chorus of Drunken Sailor:
“Sure you fits right in, maid,” said Peggy.
I picked at the label on my beer bottle. “My dad used to sing that song.”
She cocked her head. “Is he a Newfoundlander?”
I ignored the present tense. “Irish.”
“We’re more Irish than that crowd in Ireland,” Peggy said, clinking her beer bottle against mine.
Looking at her red hair and freckles, I had to agree.
Last week the Irish Times published an article written by Sinéad Ní Mheallaigh, currently teaching Irish Gaelic in Newfoundland. She says she only fully understood the expression “more Irish than the Irish themselves” when she arrived in Newfoundland. I had to laugh when I read this excerpt from her article:
These people celebrate St Patrick’s Day for a full month. They decorate their houses. They all dress in green for school and work. One bar even has a party on September 17th, marking six months to go. There are a number of Irish-Newfoundland groups here; the Irish Newfoundland association and the Benevolent Irish society both organise annual dances and events. On the morning of St Patrick’s Day, the pubs organise a buffet breakfast from 7.30am, with live music. Schools get a day off to celebrate.
Ni Mheallaigh’s article made me homesick for Newfoundland and Ireland. It’s a lovely piece and well worth a read.
What makes you homesick?