Being (or pretending to be) Irish

My forbears on my father's  side came from Ireland as convicts in the 1840s. She for stealing a set of spoons. He for a pair of pants.And they met, and conjugated, when they were both sent to Port Arthur, the hell hole prison in Tasmania.

If we forward a few years --to the 1990's -- imagine Dave taking his young kids into the Queensland Irish Association for the first time.

"This looks allright, " says he to the nippers.

And before you know it, the fam is knee deep in emerald greenery.

But ours is a funny Irishness -- I guess not much different from thousands of other Australians who decide that they'd occasionally own up to being Irish as anything else. Of course, I've never been to the place -- but growing up in Melbourne under the eye of Daniel Mannix  ,the Irish born Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne for 46 years,  St Patrick Day's was always celebrated as  mark of 'our' religion.

Today, suitably atheistic, my daughter and partner are entrenched in the Irish dancing movement (that's a la Riverdance*) and I've messed it with the QIA's drums and pipers and downed my share of Guinness. Helen, my partner, has even written the only history of the QIA's dancers and pipers.

Now as a member of the local ethnic radio station 4EB I find myself a newly accepted component in the broadcaster's Irish group. And me not knowing a word of Gaelic.

So I wear the label as it suits me even though its hardly an identity issue of much substance. But I reckon since the Fenians gave me my skin from which suspicious moles are hacked out annually, I reckon I deserve a bit of pay back in way of my hobby time.

I may play a bodhran  thats' only because I had to give up the 5 string banjo which I used to play clawhammer style. But, you see, I reckon the two instruments have a lot in common  -- the bodhran and clawhammer banjo-ing. I can play O'Carolan tunes on both.

So being "Irish" ain't half bad if you were  in the market for a boutique lifestyle.

*My daughter is in the green and white dress in the pic.

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