Coming Out Irish

Over a year ago, my mom’s friend Aunt Kath did an ancestry search on our family and found out something shocking: we’re Irish.

me with red hair. maybe I should’ve guessed.

My mom was super excited to find out about this. My sister Amy and I were not. We spent a long time in the denial stage of grief.

What were we grieving? Our so-called Scottish heritage and our sense of distinction.

^ yes, that pale, freckled face ^

In elementary school, my three best friends were Claudia, Caitlin and Erin. They were all 50 or 100% Irish. They were all Catholic. They all went to religion classes after school at St. Patrick’s. I wasn’t one of them. Sometimes I gave up stuff for Lent just to feel included.

Despite my pale, freckled face, we were zero percent Irish. My freckles must have come from our Scottish blood. There aren’t a lot of fun Scottish cultural traditions celebrated in New York. It was kind of boring.

But one summer, Amy and I visited our aunt, who’s legit Scottish (married in). She told us the true story of William Wallace and made us watch Braveheart even though we may have been too young. And from then on, I was cool with being Scottish. I even went to Edinburgh and got my photo taken with that Braveheart impersonator guy.

I don't have the pic but this guy's famous credit

I don’t have the pic but this guy’s famous

So, after my whole youth spent not being Irish? Feeling like not quite an insider on St. Patrick’s Day? After coming to be proud of my non-Irish roots? Now, I find out I’m Irish?

I guess what upsets me most is all the wasted years I could’ve been having more fun. I would’ve worn “Erin Go Bragh” t-shirts like my friends in elementary school, and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” pins a little later. I would’ve partied harder and drank more. Ok? I’m upset about all the green beer I didn’t drink. Just, I’m allowed, ok?

Well, I still don’t feel Irish, whatever that feels like. Last year I wasn’t ready to come out of the Irish closet. But this year, I might as well go for it.

This past Sunday was the Huntington St. Patty’s Day parade. We had beautiful weather and there’s no better time to celebrate new-found Irishness.


Amy’s shirt says she’s not Irish. I was in charge of the shirts and I wasn’t sure if she was ready to come out yet. It’s a personal decision.


See, I thought kilts and bagpipes were Scottish? Or are they Northern Irish?


yay Daisies!


one of many local Catholic schools


this girl needs to be on Humans of Huntington (no, that’s not a thing)


toddlers are lazy


This is St. Pat’s school, where all my friends went to religion classes. It’s a whole school of cheerleaders, apparently.



Let’s keep the party going! This Sunday, I’ll be out in the city, but mostly avoiding the parade because, crowds ugh.

Do you have any heritage that makes you proud/ashamed/confused?


  1. Fun fact: despite being the tallest girl in my 2nd grade class, I was the shortest girl in my religion class. Why? Because somehow I was the only girl in my religion class (this was before I skipped a grade and Erin and I were the only 2 girls in our religion class). But being the shortest girl in my religion class meant that when I made my first communion I was sitting on the end of the row (we were arranged by gender and then by height). And that meant that I got to be one of the kids who brought the communion up for mass. I was very excited about this.

    Nitpick: I’m actually only 25% Irish, but I get it from both sides. This does not make your story of the loss of your non-Irishness any less true.

    • Yeah I sort of remember that at your first communion. I was very excited for you too. So… when you skip a grade, you get to skip a year of religion too? That doesn’t really make sense.

      Yeah, yeah, something like that. I always think of you as mostly German but all I knew was that you had a claim to Irishness and I didn’t. How did your family get to be Catholic anyway? Story for another time I guess.

  2. Janet Barry says:

    Jilly—-Passover is coming—that’s part of your anscestory too! Maztel Tov!

  3. I thought bagpipes were Scottish, too! I’ve learned something here today–thank you.

    Good luck with your new heritage. I think you actually have a pass to get fall down drunk on green beer this weekend. Or maybe that’s just anyone with NO kids? Ahhh the good old days… ;)

    • No, don’t take my parade as evidence! Who knows what’s going on in Huntington? Go back to having learned nothing.

      Sadly, I will probably not get fall down drunk. But I’ll try to get my hands on at least one green beer. If I could just go back to college…

  4. Great pics. I remember going to that parade a few times, then hitting the bars in Huntington to drink a lot of beer and hook up with some Irish lasses!

    BTW – you are your sis are babes. Just sayin’.

    Enjoy the weekend!


  5. It happens.
    Astro Gremlin recently posted…Funny Irish Toasts Old and NewMy Profile

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