East Durham, ‘The Emerald Isle of the Catskills’ that time has, thankfully, forgotten


The ending of the night was marked by, of course, the singing Amhrán na bhFiann (A Soldier’s Song) as well as God Bless America, a clear indication of the successful merging of Irish and American culture in East Durham. The next morning? A trip to Our Lady of Knock for Mass, at least for those whose heads weren’t too sore.

Before driving back to New Jersey, my mother, boyfriend and I of course had to stop into the Irish Centre to catch the showing of the Donegal and Kerry semifinal football match. Perhaps one of the only clear indicators of the distance between now and then, we were able to watch the match on a live feed on the big screen, a far cry from the huddling around a radio my mother and father had to do.

Though I was none too pleased to see that Kerry won’t be headed for the All-Ireland Final next month, the range of ages that were in attendance at the showing proved that the Irish community in East Durham is still thriving, something I am thankful for. The live feed on the big screen showed that East Durham is mindful in embracing only certain forms of technology - it uses what’s necessary, but doesn’t overwhelm itself with inundating modernity.

My mother and I already decided that we’ll be back next year for even more East Durham fun. Hopefully, it’ll still be the same by then, the same it was even as when my mother used to go decades ago, but I have no doubts it will be.