"A few months ago, I took my wallet full of money and credit cards and a large suitcase to a limousine that drove me to the airport and 7 hours later I was in Ireland driving to a luxury hotel. A few days later, I was standing in the stone barn in Raheendanore where my paternal grandfather for whom I am named, the oldest of 14 children, slept before he left for Brooklyn 35 years before I was born. The cows and the horses shit in that barn and I suppose he went outside the barn and around the back to shit there himself. I had spent the previous night in a re-constructed oat barn on a nearby farm which had been ingeniously converted to a luxury guesthouse. Dada had two years of schooling...... Grandma had one year and the house she grew up in in Ballinlough was a stone hut serving as a chicken coop when I first went to Ireland in 1972. (The house that replaced it was a nice cottage but still didn't have running water or a toilet when I was last there in 2010.) Still she knocked my father on the head when she heard he called a kid up the block a derogatory ethnic term and told her pride and joy, "He's as good as you are."...... On the other side of the family are famine Irish who sent three sons including my great-grandfather to fight with the Union. One of my great-grandfather's brothers, Daniel Curtin, is buried at Antietam. They all came from shitholes, I guess you could say..... I grew up in a nice house, went to Fairfield University, UC Berkeley and Columbia University, have two cars and two pensions, a profession I enjoy practicing and no complaints. There are lots of places I can go and things I can do today. I know where I came from and I remember the brave, loving, family-oriented, hard-working people who paid the price for the privileged lives I and my children are living.
What I really can't do is pull up the ladder they climbed to place me on top. I cant' pull it up and say to those down at the bottom, people who look different from my people, but have the same family-oriented, work-oriented values,"Sorry, times have changed. The country has changed, people like you are no longer needed. I guess it's tough in the shitholes you came from, but that's none of my business. The luck of America ended with me and mine."
I can't do that and if they start sending those kids back who grew up here, then I'm going to take all my meds with me and do my best to stand in front of the paddy wagons-----(Who do you think those wagons were named for anyway?)"