Saturday 22 September 2018

Is he Irish

By David Medcalf

'Da, is Eldrick really Irish?' asked Persephone as she flicked stray soda bread crumbs from the front of her bánin sweater.

'Of course he is, Persephone. He's your brother - how could he be anything but Irish?'

'I was just wondering,' said our daughter, a frown creasing the cutely freckled brow beneath her mass of ringleted hair.

'Well, all I can say is that his mother is Irish, his father is Irish and he was born in Ireland. On a prima facie basis, as they say in legal circles, Eldrick appears incontrovertibly Irish.'

'Hmm.' Persephone rose from the table after putting aside her much thumbed copy of 'Peig'.

'You don't sound convinced,' I struggled to find the killer argument. 'Put it this way. He holds an Irish passport. He has always resided in Ireland. He is as Irish as, as, as…'

'Saint Patrick maybe?' She smiled ruefully. 'Except that Saint Patrick was probably Welsh, or French, or Basque, or Italian, or just about anything but Irish.'

It was my turn to frown before turning to some of the great inspirational leaders of our country, past and present: 'Listen, he is as Irish as James Connolly or Eamonn Devalera or Leo Varadkar.'

'Ha! Connolly was Scottish. Devalera was American. And Varadkar has a healthy dose of Indian in his make-up.'

'Persephone, what on earth is this all about?'

'It's just that Eldrick doesn't like potatoes. How can he call himself Irish if he doesn't even pretend to like potatoes?' She headed off to practise her harp and make a Brigid's Cross.

What she said about the potatoes is quite true. Our son has taken to boiling up great vats of rice. He arrives home from school and reaches for the Uncle Ben before changing out of his uniform or switching on the PlayStation. That way he has an alternative to the steaming spuds routinely served up with dinner.

On the basis of his dietary preference, there is a strong prima facie case for suggesting that he is more Cambodian peasant than Irish teenager. Granted, he condescends to eat chips but then the whole world eats chips. And just to annoy me, he calls them fries. Just to appal, me he slathers his fries in oceans of ketchup. Eating fries drowning in ketchup signals that he is a member of Generation McDonald but reveals nothing of his Irishness or otherwise.

Following the conversation with his sister, I looked at Eldrick in a new light and began to feel that there was more to the issue raised by Persephone than potatoes. What soccer team does he support, for instance? No, not Manchester United, the classic sporting refuge of every Irish sports fan. No, not Celtic, nor Rangers.

Instead, he has recently begun following the high profile fortunes of Paris Saint Germain, whose only conceivable Irish connection is that they have a goalkeeper called Kevin - and he is German. This interest in 'PSG' as he calls them was kindled less by sporting romance and more by reports that their centre forward is paid in excess of €800,000 a week. Perish the laughable thought that he might identify with Finn Harps or Shelbourne. No chance.

With Rory McIlroy in the doldrums, his number one golfing hero is a young player with the most un-Irish name of Hideki Matsuyama. Come to think of it, his first choice clothes brand also appears to be Japanese, though the nearest he has ever been to the Land of the Rising Sun was a family holiday on the Isle of Wight. The only fashion brand I was even aware of at his age was Saint Bernard.

Our son's musical tastes are a largely closed book to me but I noticed that he repeatedly played a song called 'Hunter' by an act called Gelantis - who sound like an up-market ice-cream but who turn out to be a Swedish 'electric dance' duo. Swedish? Well, that's not so bad - echoes of ABBA.

I raised this subject of his taste in tunes with Eldrick and he made the most extraordinary statement. He said: 'When I die, I want reggae played at the funeral. Full volume. Bob Marley.' I wandered off dazed to look for my dear wife.

'Hermione, is Eldrick really Irish?'

Wexford People

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