I’d never heard the phrase “America is a melting pot” until I made it to college. A lot of classes I’ve taken have revolved around the idea that, whether or not “The American Dream” is real, it is/was an idea that people from all walks of life bought into, traveling long and far to try and make a living in the U.S. Even bearing this in mind, to think that Ireland of all places would have such a strong connection with the American South is hard to believe. But, in fact, it does.
“The perception of the American South as being essentially Anglo-Saxon minimizes the quite unique contribution the Scotch-Irish in particular have made to many areas in southern life […]” This quote from Kieran Quinlan’s Strange Kin: Ireland and the American South is the first suggestion that there is a strong connection between Ireland and the South in the U.S. He compares the two by saying Ireland is “a land with a strikingly similar historical experience of defeat, poverty, and dispossession.”
In the interview with Gavan Lennon, many of the same sentiments from Quinlan can be heard revolving around the two locales. Lennon calls out America’s way of thinking, stating that the South is look at as the place where “all the bad stuff lives.” Quinlan notes in the introduction for Strange Kin that Ireland is viewed the same way in the Isles. Ireland is “the problem.” Lennon also notes how Ireland had their own “Civil Rights Movement” not long after the U.S./South had the famous Civil Rights Movement in the late-70s to early-80s.
The connection between the two is certainly there. It is complex in many ways, yet simple in others, stretching beyond what could possibly be seen with no real research. “They exist, all too really if often unwillingly, as the untamed peripheries of their respective civilized centers.”
“North and South Elsewhere.” About South from Soundcloud, July 2016, https://soundcloud.com/about-south/s04-episode-1-north-and-south-elsewhere .
Quinlan, Kieran. Introduction. Strange Kin: Ireland and the American South, by Quinland Louisiana State University Press, 2005, pp. 1-18.