And as for me….
Seventeen years since I made Ireland my home, I am still a ‘blow-in’ in my local rural community, but being invited to (and attending) all the local weddings, I also feel I belong. When we just moved in to our little piece of Heaven, the locals were intrigued: two girls, a strange language, not Catholic (not even Christian, for God’s sake). They asked around, talked about us (oh, we know!), and then, gradually, opened up. We got help if we needed a hand in the garden, we had people stop for a short chat on the way to the fields when they saw us walk the dog, and one day, to my utter bafflement, one local farmer even stopped by to offer me his son. ‘We have planning permission for this site, and I am sure that if my son knew that there is someone here waiting for him, he would come back from Australia,’ he said, and when I politely declined his generous proposal he said, ‘And what about your sister’? A few years down the line, and after the marriage referendum was passed, our neighbours, who made sure we knew how happy they were for us, simply asked us when we were going to have our ‘day out’.
We still do not go to Mass or to the pub, but we do feel included. And, finally, after years of attempts at growing potatoes (‘sure, it’s easy, you just put them in the ground’), this year we seemed to have passed this ultimate test (just to learn that you don’t just put them in the ground after all; you actually need to give them a lot of TLC), I feel I may have overcome my final hurdle for Irishness. Oh, and ever since my citizenship ceremony in Dublin, and I mean literally on the way home that evening, I started to believe we could actually win the World Cup. Or at least qualify….