Made In Ireland


Written by Daniel Alvarez and Carrie Nichols

Often referred to as a terrible beauty, Ireland boasts an enlivening culture and landscape that has attracted people from all over the world to stand witness to its rugged splendor. From its regal castles, colorful cities, and gift of the gab, Ireland cherishes its very foundations. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s important to realize the cultural significance of this seemingly obscure holiday.

The phrase ‘the luck of the Irish’ has been the common light many have viewed Ireland under, but historically this hasn’t always been the case. Looking back, Ireland has suffered through British oppression, famine, risings, and a civil war.

These troubles have caused many Irish to immigrate to the United States, not for lack of love of country, but rather in search of a better life. Woodgrove itself holds a modern day immigrant, Officer McCarten from County Down in the Northern part of Ireland. McCarten came to the U.S. in search of adventure, and loved it enough to stay. Despite that decision, he never completely left Ireland behind.

“I play traditional music. Whistles and pipes, Scottish music as well. I played pipes back in Ireland, but over here I taught myself to play whistle. I guess when you’re away from home you’re looking for something to remind you of that.”

McCarten also grew up in the height of what has been termed as ‘the troubles’ during the 1970’s. A time period which revolved around religious tensions and the Irish nationalists in the north wanting to join the free Republic of Ireland and break from British rule. “Growing up in that time, it was the height of a lot of bombings, a lot of shootings, a lot of tragedies, but you’re used to that, because that’s what you grew up in,” says McCarten.

Life in Ireland has grown much calmer since McCarten’s time, and those in the United States now wish to get a taste of the Irish culture themselves. Woodgrove Senior, Katelynn Tansley, does Irish dance competitively at the McGrath Academy of Irish dance, and loves how it connects her to Ireland.

“There’s a lot of Irish culture with the dancing. Especially with the music and the mannerisms in how we are taught. My favorite part about it would be the sounds of the hard shoes, and how balletic the soft shoes are,” Tansley says.

The distinctiveness of Irish culture is what draws people to such a small country. Carissa Casey, who is the editorial director of “Ireland of the Welcomes” magazine, and who lives in Bray, County Wicklow in Ireland, says “It’s a tiny little country that, by right, no one should really have heard about, but everyone has. Wherever I’ve travelled people are always delighted to hear I’m Irish. I’m not quite sure what they expect, but it’s lovely to get such warm greetings everywhere.”