A leading Irish American commentator claims that Irish Americans will like the new Ireland much more than the Celtic Tiger one.
Gabriel O’Malley, in an op/ed for the Boston Globe, writes that many Irish Americans have a tendency to “romanticize the Irish experience.”
He quotes a 1972 article from The New York Times, in which the journalist stops into a Boston pub where a group of Irishmen are complaining about Irish-Americans. One of them says, “The worst race of people you’d ever want to meet,’’ one comments after a sip of Guinness. “Ah, they ruin the Irish image. On St. Patrick’s Day they all dress in green, and as soon as it’s over they go off drinking Scotch. They don’t even know where Cork is.”
O’Malley says that “the Irish have never been exactly what Irish-Americans have expected them to be,” especially over the last 20 years, when Ireland experienced the most drastic changes, including an economic boom, an influx of eastern European immigrants, the Catholic Church scandals and the peace process in the North.
He goes on to say, “At some point, the Irish experience became so removed from that which Irish Americans had romanticized that some began to look to the Irish less as a source of nostalgic reflection and more as a point of aspiration.”
But now, after the economic bubble has burst, and Irish are once again emigrating in droves, the country has, in many ways, reverted to its former self. He credit Ireland’s downfall to “rampant consumerism” and becoming “increasingly American.”
He concludes that “the Irish are about to become more “Irish’’ — and Irish Americans may soon see a familiar sight across the Atlantic: a small island that inspires memories of a place gone by, where their past was born; a place of pain, hardship, and indomitable human spirit, filled with poets and paupers, that has at once grounded and inspired them in their new land, and which may only have ever existed in the reaches of the mind.”