Monday, March 17, 2008

The Irish Connection

No, it's not a drug thing. It's a six degrees separation kinda thing. When I was little, growing up in a Brooklyn tenement, working class, but quite decent, Cubans were a rare thing. The Irish, however, were everywhere. In my innocence of history, of "Irish need not apply" and "bog trotters" epithets, I thought the best thing in the world would be to be Irish. This way you could be accepted; you didn't have to worry all the time; and you got to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Well, demographics and I changed, but I still got a kick in my college history class on the history of the British Isles out of the knowledge that one branch of the Celts who populated the British Isles was Iberian in origin. Today, I'm reading Penultimos Dias when I find that no less an Irish group than the Chieftains had acknowledged the connection, specifically in the Galician music that made its way to Cuba. Oh, yeah, and Ry Cooder's involved there, too. Then in MaT's blog, which is at its best when he is exercising his considerable knowledge and writing ability on his own material and not deconstructing the work of others, there is an enlightening bit of Cuban history.

Now some things made sense, like the bagpipes when I went to Club España in NYC, and the jiglike folk dances. Aha. I personally claim no kinship, since although some of my forbears were gallegos in Cuba, the kind that jumped ship in Cuba when people actually wanted to emigrate there, they were not actual gallegos, as they hailed from the Canary Islands. Anyone from Spain in the Cuban lexicon was tagged a "gallego;" in the same way anyone who was of Jewish stock, from Europe, and even from Lebanon was tagged as a "Polaco." For the longest time, I was very confused and thought there were many Polish people in Cuba. But as far as I can remember those were the two ethnic distinctions other than Cuban. Oh, I forgot "Chino."

But anyway, I forgot the corn beef, which I don't like anyway, and the cabagge, so tonight it's going to be boliche with broccoli- it's smelly enough- on the side. Close enough, don't you think?

Oh, and before I forget, Happy St. Paddy's Day to all!.

1 comment:

Ms Calabaza said...

Eventually, we realize we are all the same family. Boliche and cabbage sounds awesome . . .