Joseph Caldwell on Ireland

Joseph Caldwell on Ireland

As for Ireland—my grandparents came from Tipperary, probably in the mid-nineteenth century. The famine may have had something to do with it; records are hard to come by. My grandfather Caldwell was born in 1819, but there’s no birth certificate because, until much later in that century, the indigenous Irish were not included in censuses, like the slaves in America.

As second generation Irish-American, I was schooled in Irish patriotism at an early age, which is why I sent Kitty McCloud [in the Pig Trilogy] to Fordham, where she developed—and embraced—an intensified nationalism that matches my own. (It’s said that American Irish are more nationalistic than the Irish themselves. I’m not sure I subscribe. Then, too, we American Irish can revel in a patriotism that required no sacrifice of life or freedom.) There’s strain of romanticism in all this—which, I suspect, lies at the core of the trilogy. I loved writing it—particularly the parts where I’m mean to the English.*

More about my Irish allegiance: Early on, my older sister Sally—a year and a half older—taught me a song—“The Wearing o’ the Green”—which we often sang. I can’t remember all of it but the refrain was:

She’s the most distressful country

that ever you have seen;

They’re hanging men and women there

for the wearing o’ the green.

Also: One year, on St. Patrick’s Day, my mother realized she was putting an orange in each of our lunches. Orange, of course, is the color of the Anglos. She wrapped them in green tissue paper.

*After all, they were a bit mean to us.

Joseph Caldwell, author of the Pig Trilogy


Ireland Picture