Thursday, May 05, 2005


One of the first things my parents told me when I was a tot was that I was Irish, and anyone who wore orange on St. Paddy's day, or in any other way impugned our ancient tribe, was to be considered an enemy for life. Little did I know that after a lifetime of defending the Hibernian honor, on my first trip to Ireland, I would be promptly disabused of the notion of my Irishness. I might have "the head of an Irishman," I was informed, but I was, in fact, a yank.

"You mean I'm not Irish?" I asked the gentleman who was the bearer of this earth shattering revelation. I was utterly crestfallen. Might as well have been told that my ma was not my ma.

"With all due respect, miss, you're not," he said, kindly laying a reassuring hand on my arm. (The ancient tribe is nothing if not kind.)

So okay, I'm not Irish. I'm a yank with the head of an Irishman (I think that means I look the part.) In any case, I am, like much of the world, a huge fan of the literature. Obsessed is actually a more accurate word for it. But then I am not a person of tepid interests; for me, it's obsession or nothing--another quality I blame on the heart of an Irish woman that beats inside my yank clothing.

To promote my obsession, I'd like to pass on a couple of great links that I've discovered:

The first is a fairly exhaustive catalogue of Irish writers created by the author of 'The Fabulist', Philip Casey, with brief bios, list of works, and links to websites: Irish Writers On Line

And then there is Sigla, an eclectic webzine, filled with reviews, commentary on all manner of subjects, poetry, and an intriguing new genre of flash fiction for the A.D.D. generation: short stories told in twenty-five words or less.

It was through Sigla that I was introduced to the new word of the day: Shitegeist. Now is that a great word or what? First writer to use it in an original sentence wins a beer at the local pub on me.

Oh yeah, almost slid away without confessing to the truth about my name. Patry Francis. Now that's a name with a rather nice sound to it if I do say so myself. The only thing is it's not my real true name. It's a name I picked up through a precipitous marriage at 19. In fact, the name may have been part of the motivation for the marriage. I know it sounds dumb, but I was nineteen, okay? The name on my birth certificate is Doody. Fodder for creative teasing from my classmates since grade one. In high school, when I researched the name and found that Doody actually derived from the more taunt-resistant O'Dowd, I tried to persuade my father to change it back. But Dad was proud of his name, however--another Hibernian quality, I suspect; and he wouldn't hear of it.

Now, after years of successfully burying my name, I find myself oddly nostalgic for it, and almost as proud of it as Dad was. It is a moniker that is truly mine in a way that Francis never will be no matter how many things I publish under that by-line. And it's more than just a name, it's an identity. The identity of a dispossessed Irish woman, and a yank. We're a feisty lot, us Doodys...With a name like that, I guess we'd have to be.