There is a truth to being an expat that you may be a local, but will always be a bit of an outsider looking in. I am totally American to everyone here in Ireland. Nearly nine years has not earned me a place as an Irish person, but I understand maybe I have not earned it yet. Though my boys were born here and the older one has a clear accent. He tells me he needs to go to the bathroom… in Irish. So, at home we are a medley of cultures and it suits us. I am proud to be an American. It is part of my melting pot upbringing and genetic composition.
When I go home though, my brain has been retrained by Irish life so when someone says “My husband is Irish.” I actually think her husband is Irish, of Ireland, with parents and family still in Ireland. But, no. I used to accept that Irish or Italian meant descent in America, but living abroad has made me even prouder of my American heritage. My ancestors fought in the American revolution, civil war, and helped earn the life they worked hard to create. It has contributed to who I am and I love that. It has been about 160 years since my family lived in Ireland, and now I am doing it again, but as an outsider.
So, when an American arrives in Ireland for vacation and says, “I am one-seventh Irish, we could be cousins.”, the Irish roll their eyes a bit. It is one of those big secrets that no one puts in the tourism commercials, but it is out there and present.
Here are related articles and forums that discuss this in case you don’t believe me:
What say you?