It’s an Anglo-Celtic Thing

I am an English Protestant with an Irish Catholic name.

I was born in England and I have English parents, grandparents, and all but one English great-grand parents. The other great-grand parent was a Catholic Irishman named McCabe.  He joined the British Army as a drummer boy and served in India during the Raj.  He then settled in north-east England, a hotbed of rampant Methodism.  Well, maybe not rampant.  You can’t really have the words ‘rampant’ and ‘Methodism’ in the same sentence.

He got engaged to a Methodist girl, who was promptly paid a visit by the local Catholic priest.  The priest warned her in no uncertain terms about burning in hell if she didn’t convert, marry in a Catholic ceremony and raise good Catholic children. Apparently my great-grandfather took umbrage at this and decked the priest, thus sealing my religious fate.  True story.

I’m glad I have this Anglo-Celtic ethnic background because it gives me a wide perspective on the world, especially concerning the whole tragic Catholic/Protestant, Irish/English conflict.  I feel able to see the world through the eyes of people on both sides. As a result I have a very balanced personal stance on the issue: I hate everybody, including myself.

It does get hard sometimes to keep a balance between my dual ancestral imperatives, and there are times when one or the other will get the upper hand and take over for a while. It’s a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, except its George and Patrick.

When the George side takes over, I think things like “I wish I didn’t have an Irish name!  I’m English!  I wish I had a good English name; something really Anglo-Saxon like Alfred Wolfsbane or Harolde Bloodaxe.  Then Irish people won’t overhear my name and say ‘So its Kevin McCabe is it now?  Irish to be sure! Come and sing Fenian songs with us’.   Instead they’ll whisper to each other ‘Don’t mention the Fenians, there’s an Anglo-Saxon over there and he’s got an axe’

Then there are the times when my DNA’s Irish Catholic minority takes over.  I go directly to the nearest Irish Pub, get extremely hammered on Guinness and start head-butting people.  Happy fiddle music fills the air as other Irishmen seize the moment and start breaking chairs over each others’ heads.  The other clientele (who are not being attacked) just laugh and shake their heads and say “Those crazy Irish, they’re such lovable characters!”

I must emphasize that these outbreaks are rare and short-lived.  Most of the time, I manage to walk that fine line, with my various traits blending into a normal, healthy Anglo-Celtic whole.  That is, I get reasonably hammered and carry a small hatchet.