The Gaelic Soul


I drove 6 hours (one way) this weekend for a St. Patrick’s Day Party. What could possess an avowed introvert to do that?  I believe it was my Gaelic soul.

On my mother’s side, I’m English/Scottish/Irish (with a rumor of Native American). On my father’s side, I’m German. But it’s the Irish/Scottish soul that I identify with the most. I had 12 hours to think about this during my car ride.

Why doesn’t the English part of me resonate? I suspect it’s because England is too civilized. I visited the U.K. when I was 10 (left my appendix in London by accident). England impressed me with its royalty, cities, and groomed farmsteads: a landscaped tamed.

On the same trip, an ancestral tour of sorts, Germany impressed me with its order and the purposeful energy of its people. But neither England or Germany were for me. I recall thinking then (over 3 decades ago – I will not disclose exactly how many decades!), that if I returned, I would like most to revisit Ireland and Scotland.

I suspect this is because they have some wildness left in them, and that stirs my soul. This wildness causes people to depend more closely on each other than does a civilized landscape. It causes a certain kind of camaraderie not found in other places.

I’ve also noticed this interdependence in Newfoundland, Canada. Of course, the Irish brought their culture to Newfoundland, but it’s something more; a dependence of people on one another brought about by harsh conditions.

I recently watched the latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall.” The end of it is set in Scotland, in Mr. Bond’s childhood home – a stark grey stone mansion set in a remote moor. Although Mr. Bond claims to “never have liked the place,” I found myself inwardly cringing as it was shot up and set aflame. Its wild setting and stonework seemed ideal to me.

I suspect the Irish and Scottish in me overrules my other genetic makeup. Somehow, I inherited that soul more than the others. Who knows how this happens? All I know is that when I hear an Irish fiddle or bagpipes, there’s no force that can keep me from moving. I adore contra-dancing (like square dancing or line dancing but with a Gaelic bent) and ceili dancing.

And I would drive 6 hours when I had the opportunity to attend a bona-fide St. Patrick’s Day party with many friends and co-workers, complete with a blessing by a Catholic priest, bad jokes, and good music.



4 thoughts on “The Gaelic Soul

  1. Hi, Marie. I enjoyed your post. As I am from Newfoundland, I was wondering if you had a connection to it. You are right about the different way of life here. Of course, with recent progress and a more global economy, things aren’t the way of the old days, but it is still unique.

    • Hi Jennifer – I spent about a month in Newfoundland back in the late 1980s as part of the National Audubon Society’s Expedition Insitutute to learn about environmental issues. We hiked Gros Morne Mtn., lived in a fishing village (Conch), ate seal meat and had a wonderful time learning about the local culture.I would love to go back there, too. That’s so cool that you are from Newfoundland! Thanks for your comment.

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