Slouching Towards Bantry

A journey is a hallucination. -- Flann O'Brien

Saturday, March 18, 2006

England Out of Dogtown

They come every year as surely as Cromwell's army invaded Ireland, loud, boisterous, obnoxious foreigners, all. Tis the price of living in St. Louis' designated Irish-American neighborhood. Mind you, it's far from an exclusive ethnic ghetto. Growing up nearby, in a area that somehow has been annexed into the larger Dogtown community in recent years, there was a smattering of Greeks, Italians and Jews. The Burkes and Hogans and Cardinales and Kasinases all lived amongst each other. And in St. Louis, it's impossible to get away from the German immigant population. They would call it "diversity" today, although nary a black face was to be found in my elementary school. Segregation aside, second and third generation American families of European descent in St. Louis were more interested in assimilating back then, finding common bonds that united them. Now the trend is to single out what makes us different. But, of course, on St. Patrick's Day everybody is Irish. So they begin arriving from the hinterlands by the droves by mid-morning, the suburban hordes, who wouldn't live in Dogtown if they were paid to do so and have no idea where the island of Ireland is even located let alone what its history and people are all about. They clog the streets with traffic, get drunk, make noise and then, thankfully, leave. It's only one day not 600 years, but it's more than enough for any native to tolerate.

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