Slightly Bemused writes:
It is St Patrick’s Day, and I have an American daughter who is, obviously, also Irish. A proper Irish American.
It took me a few years, but I finally managed to correct a few things for her.
1: It is St Paddy’s Day, not St Patty’s. Patty is a girls name, and no disrespect to them, it just is not correct in context.
2: As an Irish person, there is no need to wear green. We already know we are Irish, we have no need to prove it to anyone else.
3: During Lent, Sundays do not count (seriously, check it out), and neither does St Patrick’s Day. Although that last is more by lack of observation rather than sanction.
4: While she does not drink, seriously, green Guinness? There are crimes against humanity and crimes against the Irish!
Little Slightly hopes to come over later in the year and study music for a semester. If she gets it it will be just up the road in Maynooth, and yep, had to correct her pronunciation on that. Her teachers told her she was wrong after, and she basically told them that if her father, who lives less than 10 miles away, tells her how to pronounce it, that is how she will pronounce it. I am not sure if it is genetic, but I love it :-)
Anyway, she can only come to Ireland if she can prove she has Irish heritage, and I am brought right back to when we got her first Irish passport. As my daughter, she not only has Irish heritage, she is a full Irish citizen.
Did you know it is very hard to give up your Irish citizenship? Her cousin, also born in the US but my eldest brother’s son, whose mother is also Irish (from the same Maynooth) when he turned 18 was told by the US authorities he had to choose.
The Irish embassy told him to choose the US. The US authorities then took his Irish passport, sent it to the Irish Embassy, who promptly sent it back to him.
So when I applied for Little Slightly’s first passport (she was about 6 weeks old) I had to do it through the Irish Consulate in Chicago. I needed to prove I was Irish. So I sent in my long form birth cert, a copy of my marriage cert, and just in case, a copy of my baptismal and confirmation certs.
I got a phone call. it went something like this:
“Hello Slightly. Are you really Irish?”
“How long have you lived in the US”
“I never have”
“Why are you here?”
“Because my wife is American, and we wanted Little Slightly born here so one day she might be President”
“We have a problem with one of the documents you gave us. The birth certificate is in a foreign language, and was not issued by a court”
I point out here, the official issuer of Irish birth certs is the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. So, yep, the marriage cert was coming up soon. Also, the long form birth cert has both Irish and English on it So, me:
“Ehm, you know that that language is the official language of the country you work for? And was issued by the correct official body of that country you work for?”
This did not go down well, and many delays were placed in our way, including questioning if my daughter actually existed. Needless to say this was frustrating. Little Slightly was born early February, and we were approaching St Patrick’s Day.
On the day after, I called a friend in the Department of Foreign Affairs back home. We had Little Slightly’s passport in a week, most of that time the shipping from Dublin.
Now instead of me, Little Slightly has to prove she is Irish to her college. So I am going with a repeat of my history and sending her a copy of my long form birth cert (not issued by a court) a copy of my marriage cert, and just in case, a copy of my baptismal and confirmation certs. Why not, can’t do any harm. And may help with Maynooth.
I am tempted to go for overkill and share a document I needed for my marriage in our local Church, but I was allowed to keep. It is called a Nihil Obstat which I think means no obstacle, basically I had not previously been married.
This was issued to me by the Archbishop of Kosove, and had wax and tassels and was on actual vellum. The man liked me. When we first met, it was just after their war with Serbia, and he needed to talk to the Vatican. I set up our satellite phone, and handed it to him, walking away so he could talk in private.
He was a Bishop when I met him, he was an Archbishop at the end of that call.
Slightly Bemused‘s column appears here every Wednesday.