The Irish in America


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Day 24 of Irish American Favorites: Vince Flynn

vinnieThis morning, at the Cathedral of Saint Paul just up the street, is the funeral of Irish American writer Vince Flynn. I’ve purchased many of Flynn’s political thrillers over the years, but never read one. Since the late 1990s, Vince Flynn provided me with a “sure thing” when it came to buying gifts for my dad. Dad would always offer the book to me when he was finished. I declined every time – not a big fan of thrillers.

My dad knew “Vinnie” since the mid-1980s. Dad was an assistant football coach at the College of Saint Thomas when Vinnie was on the team.  Since I didn’t really like football, anytime I went to the games, I found other ways to pass the time. One way was to look at the game program. As I perused throster,  I paid special attention to the players with Irish last names. And there certainly were lots of them!

At one time, I could have told you what number any given player wore during the period my dad coached at St. Thomas, but that was a long time ago. Vinnie could have been #89…not sure.

So many people I know love Flynn’s books. They rave about his story-telling and great characters. Even my mom, whose literary preferences lean heavily toward Jane Austen, jumped on the Vince Flynn bandwagon. I guess it is about time I see what all the fuss is about this Mitch Rapp…

Click here to read more about Vince Flynn’s life and career.

When I hear the Cathedral bells ring later this morning, I will think of the Flynn family. The world may have lost a great writer and the Irish American community is less one proud member, but his family lost a beloved son, brother, uncle, husband, and father.

Rest in peace, Vinnie.

vinnie2

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Day Two of Irish American Favorites: F.Scott Fitzgerald

F_Scott_Fitzgerald

He may not have identified himself as Irish American, but that’s what F. Scott Fitzgerald was, and since he is one of my favorite writers, it stands to reason that he  would make my list of favorite things about Irish America.

So, did Fitzgerald have a problem with his Irish heritage? He was a complicated man. I may live up the street from Fitzgerald’s birthplace in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but that does not qualify me to analyze his personality and motivations. I will leave that to Fitzgerald experts who say his denial of his Irish ancestry rested in the fact he was embarrassed by his mother and her Famine-era immigrant Irish roots. His father’s genealogy was preferable – an established Maryland family and distant cousin to Francis Scott Key, Star Spangled Banner lyricist. Much less ethnic, much more American.

The climate in America was different in the early twentieth century. Americans didn’t often celebrate their heritage like we do today. They just wanted to be American. And if they had aspirations of joining the élite in American society, like Fitzgerald did, then it would be prudent to down-play your ethnicity – and your religion. Funny isn’t it, how things change? Just look at how Tom Cruise embraced his Irish heritage while doing press in Ireland a couple of months ago. Seemed like a bit of a stretch to me.

Fitzgerald wrote novels (The Great Gatsby, This Side of Paradise) and many short stories, but I think one of the best things he wrote was a letter to his eleven-year-old daughter in 1933, instructing her on what to worry about, what not to worry about, and what to think about. Click here to read the letter.

 Of all Fitzgerald’s witty observations, this is my favorite quote:  Nothing is as obnoxious as other people’s luck. 

Fitzgerald birthplace

Fitzgerald birthplace