Friday, July 04, 2008

On Being Of Irish Heritage

I love my job. I sit in front of a computer, pull up data and talk with people all day. It beats the heck out of digging ditches or working in retail. The folks I talk with are usually nice and happy for the information and suggestions that I offer.

I normally greet people by announcing that my name is O'Hara. I think that greeting is fairly straight forward. I pronounce it clear as a bell. "OH-HAIR-AH" However the usual comment is, "Oh, like the Airport?" Well no, that would be O'Hare. Or I get, "You say your name is Hair?"...or "How do you spell that? You mean there is an OH", which inevitably leads to the question, "Is there also an apostrophe?".

But the thing that irks me is when I hear someone say, "Oh, so you're an Irishman." Well not really. My great, great grandfather, who was long gone before I came on the scene might have migrated from Ireland. My family never talks much about it. But I'm from Kentucky.

Years ago when I first started going out with the girl that became my wife, her father would taunt me with Irish slurs. "You know that an Irishman is nothing but a N (fill in the N word) turned inside out" or "My daughter could do much better than to go out with an Irishman." I ignored his lack of tolerance and chalked it up to the times in which he was raised.

However whenever someone says to me, "Oh, so you're an Irishman" I have to wonder when they speak with Jose Lopez do they pose the question, "Oh, so you're Mexican?" or when they talk to Janice Ngorski do they say, "Oh, you're Polish" or when Letiesha Jones speaks with them do they pose the question "Are you Black? Well you don't sound Black."

I'm certain the folks mean well and are just making small talk. I go along with it.

Heck being anything Celtic is cool in this age. It's big at Irish Heritage festivals and Renaisance festivals to have a Celtic surname. Now if I could only learn how to play my guitar in DADGAD tuning.

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