Irish American Wonders Why He Can’t Blend In

Killarney – For big Ciaran McDonnell (37), coming back to his ancestral roots in Ireland was to be a joyous homecoming to the land of his forefathers, but for some reason he can’t fathom every single Irish person he meets can peg him right away as a foreigner.

McDonnell can't understand why he doesn't blend in with the local Irish.

McDonnell can't understand why he doesn't blend in with the local Irish.

Said McDonnell, the owner of a truck repair depot in the Bronx, New York, “I felt for sure that I could escape all the joshing about my red hair and freckles, the presents of Lucky Charms for my birthday, all the ragging that goes with being an Irish American in a multicultural city.”

“Not that I don’t enjoy playing it up with my homeboys,” he added, eager to clear up any potential questions about his manly ability to withstand barbed comments. “But I thought it would be nice to be somewhere where I could just blend in, where everyone is just like me.”

“For some reason, it’s not really working out like that,” he said disappointedly.

McDonnell’s great-grandfather originally came to the USA in the 1920s, after realising that the stubborn desire to beat the English was the only thing that had been keeping him in Ireland, one of Europe’s most backward and poverty-stricken nations.

Since then, the McDonnell clan has exploded across the USA, breeding like Viagra-dosed rabbits to the disgust of their reserved Protestant peers, for whom sex is a sin that everyone – especially the President – must always abstain from. McDonnell is the first member of the family to return to Ireland.

“Yeah, my great-grandfather had a village somewhere down near Killarney,” said McDonnell, standing on the street with a large map of Ireland, wearing an Aran sweater and a fanny-pack, looking around for signposts that had mysteriously disappeared.

“Hey, buddy, can you tell me where ‘Anne-Day-Engine’ is?” he asked a puzzled local man.

“Where?” said the man, looking at the map. “Oh, you mean An Daingean? Just head towards the west and if you get lost ask people for Dingle. Welcome to Ireland!” he said cheerfully, before hurrying on to the one job interview in Kerry.

An Daingean is actually the least difficult road sign in Kerry for Irish Americans to pronounce.

An Daingean is actually the least difficult road sign in Kerry for Irish Americans to pronounce.

“I just don’t get it,” said McDonnell in confusion. “I’ve got just as much Irish blood as anyone here. How the hell does everyone know I’m an American?”

“Just the other day I was in a bar here, or a pub, or whatever you call it, and Kerry were playing Gay-Lick Football,” said McDonnell, before stopping to wonder about that name for a bit.

“Anyway, I asked, and everyone said Kerry were probably the favourites. I said, ‘Hey, that’s great! It’s good to be favourites, right? Gives you a big confidence boost to know that everyone thinks you’re the best.’ They just looked at me like I was from a different planet,” he said in confusion.

“I mean, what’s wrong with everyone thinking you’re the best?” he went on, his perplexity growing. “Don’t they want to be champions?”

McDonnell said he found Irish attitudes difficult to fathom sometimes. “The other day, I was standing at a traffic light when a local senator or DT or whatever you call them here came by in a big fancy Mercedes. I said to a local kid, ‘See that, kid? One day, if you work hard, you could be that guy.’”

"Gay-Lick Football? That's another Irish tradition I don't want no part of," avowed McDonnell.

"Gay-Lick Football? That's another Irish tradition I don't want no part of," avowed McDonnell.

“He just looked at me blankly and said, ‘But he’s a cunt.’ I mean, what kind of attitude is that for a young kid?”

“The funniest thing is that everyone around agreed with him, and told him not to listen to the Yank.”

McDonnell said the only thing more disturbing was how people resented him for not spending enough money. “They kept trying to sell me tacky souvenirs, like their houses, and got all pissy with me when I said no,” said a frustrated McDonnell. “They’d say, ‘You’re a Yank, you can afford it!’ All the estate agents following me and begging me to buy a small cottage for €200,000 on the Anne-Day-Engine peninsula got really irritating.”

As he waited in Shannon for the flight back to America, McDonnell said his trip hadn’t worked out like he thought, but it had awakened a new sense of belonging.

“I can’t wait to get back to New York,” he said with relief.

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