How does it feel to be an Irish American searching for your heritage and ancestry in Ireland?

The Irish have penned many songs and stories about their immigration history but what about those who returned to Ireland for good or those who found themselves returning to their heritage after hundreds of years? This poem, “ An American in Galway” by Steven G. Farrell, explores this concept in vivid detail and the kinds of disconnect an Irish American may feel from Irish people when they visit as a stranger in a country that they hold very dear.

Farrell speaks beautifully of how his surname singles him out, in particular, as a person of Irish descent and yet it seems those that left Ireland have been forgotten as he travels through the streets of Galway.

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A shopfront in Galway. Image: Tourism Ireland.

A shopfront in Galway. Image: Tourism Ireland.

What was your experience as an Irish American in Ireland? Were you welcomed or did you feel that you were just thought of as an American? Let us know about it in the comments section, below.  

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An American in Galway, Ireland by Steven G. Farrell

A music session in a pub in Galway. Image: Tourism Ireland.

A music session in a pub in Galway. Image: Tourism Ireland.

It’s been 200 years

you’ve clearly forgotten me,

but you appear to remember

my name.


I have returned to see you,

reliving the olden times:

I’m a Yankee exile,

staring into shop windows.


Please welcome me home after

my long journey back to the

land that was once mine

as much it is still yours


Three damp days,

wandering in cobblestone streets

buskers sang “Red is the Rose,”

forcing me to cry


Weeping in October

with her on my side,

seeking tea in Galway city

she didn’t notice my sighs.


I’ve been gone for 200 years

you’ve clearly forgotten me,

but you appear to remember

my name.


Rocky roads

old town stone walls,

smelling the turf

O’Farrell lettered above a door.



The donkey knows the way:

to a battered Norman Tower

where a monkish manuscript

provides a lost clue.


Passport identifies

while the green earth

signifies something

more than birth.


Not asking for much

not even a Gaelic greeting

perhaps a nod acknowledging

the wandering Celt’s return.


I’ve been gone for 200 years

You’ve clearly forgotten me,

but you appear to remember

my name.

*First published in The Esthetic Apostle.

Quay Street, Galway City.

Quay Street, Galway City.

Steven G. Farrell's nonfiction has appeared in Boxing News, Scary Monsters, Crime, The Sports Digest, and Lost Treasure. His fiction has appeared in Frontier Tales, Candlelight Stories, The Path, The Irish American Post, and Audience. Professor Farrell teaches in the Speech and Theater Department at Greenville Technical College in South Carolina.

How were you welcomed as an American in Ireland? Let us know in the comments section, below.

What is it like to be an Irish American in Galway? Tourism Ireland