Originally from Boston, Jay Sia is an Irish studies graduate of Hofstra University on Long Island who recently moved to Brooklyn. He works as a video intern for our sister website Irish Central.
Tell us about your Irish heritage.
“Mom’s side is Kirwan, not sure where, but I definitely saw our family crest up in Bunratty Castle in Clare which was very cool. Dad’s side is up in Derry and his great grandmother was born in a tiny barn in Maghera. We got to see that a few years back on a family holiday and that really put things into perspective for me.”
When/why did you move to New York?
I moved to New York about a month ago. After finishing my bachelor’s degree in film studies and production I decided that the Big Apple was where I needed to be if I ever wanted to use any of the things I learned over the last four years. I also really like the feeling of the city. It’s so massive and yet so small all at once. I got lunch with a friend from high school today who works two or three blocks from where I do!”
What was it like growing up in Boston?
A lot of Red Sox, soccer practice and messing around with my three younger siblings and all our friends. It’s been a journey for sure. My father is the hardest working man I know and my mother is the most loving mom I’ve ever met. They’ve made a hell of a life for me and my two brothers and sister.”
Have you ever been to Ireland?
“Yes I have and it was infectious. I plan to either retire there or once I need a change go get a cottage on Inis Oírr and just write and wear wool sweaters and smell like peat forever.”
Who is your favorite Irish playwright or author?
Favorite poet is Lady Gregory and favorite author is Roddy Doyle. My favorite Irish American author is without a doubt Dennis Lehane. That man is a genius. My favorite Irish filmmaker is Martin McDonagh. I think he is an absolute powerhouse of a writer/director.”
Why did you take Irish studies in school?
“It was something that always fascinated me when I was growing up. My grandmother was probably at fault for my die hard interest in it. I have always identified as Irish American and am very proud of my heritage.
“A reason why I minored in Irish studies is because Hofstra’s Irish studies program is not only extensive and effective academically, but it also functions as a familial unit that was crucial in making the transition from Massachusetts to Long Island. The faculty is made up of dedicated, caring people who want to show you what Ireland is, was, and talk about what it might be. The university is trying to downsize it and that disgusts me. Without that program and the caring faculty (who still check up on me like surrogate mothers) I surely would have left school.”
What was the hardest thing about moving to New York?
Saving up enough money to be able to afford to move was the hardest thing. I worked 55-60 hours a week this summer doing landscaping, carpentry, plumbing and the like. It was a lot of fun and it was basically just getting paid to go to the gym and hang out with my best friend.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’d like to get published again. I’d like to sell a script. I don’t know. I don’t even know where I see myself tomorrow, but I look pretty happy.”
You have to listen to this mind-blowing cover of “Africa” in Irish (VIDEO)