Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today Everbody's Irish - even me

That is a family picture. That is my Great, Great Grandmother, Mary Elizabeth McNamara - Maher . Next to her is my Grandmother, "Dottie".  That imposing woman - (can't you just feel her?) - came from Ireland in 1892 with every penny she possessed sewn into the hem of that voluminous skirt of hers. Dottie, her granddaughter, was the daughter of an Irish woman who was the widow of Irishman James O'Farrell with one child, who became a governess to an English man, William Hunter, who was a widower with, I think, 8 kids of his own. So Dottie was half Irish, half English.

That's about as far as it goes for the pure Irish Family history. Dottie married a Polish man - Leo Rosenski, had my Mom who married my Dad, half Italian, half Brazilian..... and produced me - a mutt. I am the sum of the Immigration Experience.  And what did I go and do? I married a Jewish boy! - Ain't that America?

So in my family- the looks range from olive skinned, dark haired lovelies to pale- pale-
This is why I identify so strongly as being Irish. It's the only thing that showed up on the outside. I have an Italian stomach- Brazilian rhythm and a Polish sense of direction(I kid). My face - has been smacked with a shillelagh.

Countless times in my life- I have had strangers look at me- stare and say "OH.... She has the map of Ireland on her face." - which is kinda nice to hear to a kid who had such a mixed up background. I'm not well grounded in Irish traditions- I know much more about my Brazilain heritage and the Italian food. I went to Brazil @ 17. It was a life changing experience to stand on ground that you know your people came from. - But everyone (and everyone there is gorgeous) called me "linda gringo" and I spontaneously combusted from all of the sun. This is me - in front of Jesus' gigantic toe in Rio- contemplating how grateful I am for the clouds that day.

I ate my way thru Italy on a highschool tour - gazed at the stylish beautiful people and spontaneously combusted from all of the sun.

I have put off my dream trip to the Emerald Isle for 10 years. I am close to making it a reality, I can feel it in my bones. I want to stand on that ground and see the green hills and the rocky coast. I want to breathe the air- and have my skin feel at home. I want to see where Mary Elizabeth McNamara had her farm that she sold to have the money she sewed into the hem of her skirt.
I suppose it's a longing to belong to something. Some tangible proof that it's not just my face - but maybe something deeper will connect.

I can't rattle on in Gaelic or sing IRA protest songs. I didn't have a Aran sweater  til my husband bought me one, which I had a violent allergic reaction to the wool - and can't wear. It's nice to look at tho. I'm the human equivalent of a bottle of O'douls to all of you  Guinness pint people.

But I offer you this as proof of Irishness......

I danced the jig in 3rd grade with my dance school. I got in the front row. Cause I was so freakin' Irish looking.

It's the freckles. My Grandmother had them. She had more freckles than there are stars in the sky. As She got older that freckled skin turned translucent- and it looked like the freckles danced on top of a pool of water. Now that I'm getting older - I see it happening to me.

I shall freckle til the day I leave this earth- maybe they'll merge and I'll finally look tan instead of spontaneously combusting - from the sun.

Happy St Pat's Everyone! Happy Day to be Irish! No matter how much or how little! 

 We're doing the Green Thing Over @ The Sketchables too this week!


patti said...

Kelly, I absolutely love your illustrations, and you crack me up. Thanks for sharing your drawings, and thanks for being you.

I'm a wannabe illustrator, just getting back into the swing of things and I'm so happy that I've found your site.

Happy St. "Patti's" Day!

Patti Gabrielson

Kelly Light said...

Thanks Patti!! I raise a glass of green seltzer to you!

Michelle Henninger said...

Love, love, love your dance photo! haha! Both of our girls took Irish Dance a few years back. The looked so cute wearing gillies!

You make Ireland proud!

Kelly Light said...

Thanks Michelle!- Happy St Pat's to you and your bonnie lass-es.!:)

Nina Crittenden said...

Kelly- you are TOO cute! My sis got the freckles, I always wished I had some, too! Happy St. Pat's, my friend! :)

Kelly Light said...

Happy St Pat's Nina!! I'll gladly loan you some freckles!

Jennifer Noel Bower said...

Oh my gosh! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. Your self-deprecating humor had me in stitches over my work station. I am a huge fan of your work and now the personality behind it, to boot. (don't ask me what that Irish grandmother always said it to me.) Here's raising a glass to the funny women lacking melatonin everywhere.

Kelly Light said...

Jennifer- Thanks for the holla back that was enjoyable and heartfelt! We must laugh at ourselves - keeps our hearts light!

Herb O'Brien said...

Hi Kelly,
I am so proud to know you and the person you've become. You are a credit to yourself, your family and the entire art community (not to mention the Irish)!
Herb O'Brien

Ang said...

I love the way you write. The irish dancing girl pic is adorable and the last photo of you is beautiful!