The Tower Pulse

My View: Digging up my roots

Anna Cornell '20, Staff Writer

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Ever since I can recall, I have always felt like I’m on the outside. I am the only natural blonde in my family, and I am by far the palest person. I have freckles from head to toe, and growing up I was always considered to be the runt of the pack.

On top of looking different than my relatives, half of my family are Presbyterian while the other half are Catholic, so saying the Our Father at gatherings was always chaotic.

My mom’s side of the family are Irish and Scottish, but my dad’s side are German, Polish and Hungarian. Therefore, no matter how much I wish to belong I will always be a mutt. Not part of one specific group, yet a small presence everywhere.

However, just like the Island of Misfit Toys, I recently felt like I found my people during my recent trip to Ireland. As soon as I embarked off the plane, I knew something was different, but I just couldn’t figure out what.

As the minutes turned to hours and the jet lag had less of an impact on me, I knew what it was. I belonged.

The people there had the same skin tone, freckles as common as the green scenery, blonde hair wasn’t a needle in the haystack and everyone was Catholic.

On top of blending in I was able to do something that growing up in the melting pot of cultures I never thought would be possible: I saw the house my ancestors lived in, went to their burial site and met the part of my family that never left the island.

The first day of the trip, my brother, mom, dad and I drove the smooth- paved roads, soaking up the clean and green outside that surrounded us (we had a driver, Gerard, who transported us everywhere for the week we were there).

It was almost like spending a week in Heaven on earth, so why would my ancestors want to leave? Here, most everyone was raised on the same beliefs, the natives were some of the most friendly/helpful people I have ever encountered and all of the meat could be traced back to local farms.

For that question I needed insight from the last full blood Irish in my american family, my grandmother (grammy), born as Susan Kathryn Cleary to two 100 percent Irish parents.

According to grammy, her grandfather Brennan who was Irish had been living in the United States ever since the time of George Washington, but her grandmother had been visiting a cousin that lived in New York from Ireland solely to have an adventure. Some time during her grandmother Susan’s trip she met grandfather Brennan, got married, then never returned to Ireland.

When it was my turn to leave Ireland this past spring break I didn’t want to come back. I didn’t want the American dream that most immigrants search for nor did I want the adventure my great grandma wanted. I couldn’t seem to part with the country that my ancestors were so eager to leave behind.

Coming from the country of individuality and “everyone is unique” it was nice to be in a place where I could be one with the people and be amongst everyone else. It was fun to belong.

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1 Comment

One Response to “My View: Digging up my roots”

  1. Marie Kudej on May 14th, 2019 7:30 pm

    Anna, what a wonderful view on life. Realizing the blessings that other people have in other countries, and that what we think is top notch here in America is not always the most desirable. Respecting your heritage ! Cool. You are an awesome young lady with a great writing talent and I suspect many other talents. ( I do not have any Irish heritage in me, but I have been to Ireland twice, and would go again in a minute ).

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My View: Digging up my roots