You see them or maybe hear them first whatever the case may be in limerick year round especially around paddys day they wear bright coloured clothing and have a couple of cameras hanging around their necks.
They want to know such things as why did we build the castles so close to the highway and how to get to Kounty Kork and Gaalwaye. They are looking for the Mulligans or as it used to be the O’Mulligans before they dropped the O at Ellis Island as presumeably they had to shorten their great grandparents names as their might be confusion with all the O’s coming from the auld country at the time.
And of course they are seeking their heritage their roots God love em.
Now don’t get me wrong, the economy, God knows needs them. And we would not have an Aer Lingus without them and if the crowd up in dublin had their way we would never see them period.
Well I meet them every day of my life for the past nine years here in Michigan in my position as a car salesperson working for a Chevrolet dealership here in beautiful grand rapids Mic.
A day does not go by without the now customary: “are you from ireland ??” Yes!
“Why did you come to Grand Rapids Michigan??”
My standard answer is: “did you ever hear of the federal witness protection program??”
Well it does break the ice.
I thought when I worked in the Royal George hotel many years ago as a lounge boy that all Americans were loaded millionaires every one of them. Well they are not and the ones we get in Ireland most of the time have saved for many years to go visit the auld sod of their ancestors and they worked extremely hard for their money on factory floors etc.
I have to say their hospitality to the irish in particular is second to none. The amazing thing about them is that not one yet has said that I am an American when they ask me if I am Irish.
Now that is for me, dumbfounding. They say I am part Irish, part Dutch, part German but not once has one of them said I am an American.
Now this leads me to believe that our forefathers got around a lot more than they would like to admit. Or is it that the American is a person in search of identity? Well I for one am glad to have them seek the Irish in them, as they exude a pride in their irish roots that makes me wonder if I take my own heritage for granted.
So do me a favour the next time you see one, give ’em a smile and a cheerful hello as I never tire of them telling me what a wonderful country I come from and how warmly they were treated in limerick.
It makes me proud. Almost as proud as they are to be irish.