I Used to be Irish: Leaving Ireland, Becoming American
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Like so many Irish girls, 18-year-old Angeline Kearns saw her handsome GI as a rescuer from the grey skies of Ireland to the Hollywood-tinted USA. She flew happily away to the States in 1957—a bit scared, but blessing her luck.
But she quickly learned that America was not Ireland. The cheerful family life she had known in Dublin’s Irishtown was a world away from her husband's sober Maine Protestant upbringing. Adapting to Cold War America, appearing to be the perfect wife, the happy shopper, the all-giving mom, became an endurance test.
Then a childhood trauma came back to haunt her.
Working her way out of her depression she went back to school and then to university (an opportunity, as she bitterly notes, not offered in de Valera’s Ireland) and began exploring a whole new life, personal and political. She, who used to be Irish, had become American.
Over two million Irish women have gone to the US in search of liberty and happiness. In this sharply observed memoir Angeline Kearns Blain movingly evokes the culture shock, trauma and re-invention experienced by every immigrant.
A. & A. Farmer
Blain, Angeline Kearns, "I Used to be Irish: Leaving Ireland, Becoming American" (2009). Faculty & Staff Authored Books. 51.