Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Roots of smart-assedness

Being 50% Irish and 50% Polish has always been an interesting aspect of my life. Very little is known about the history of the Polish half of my family...for reasons also unknown. Those who know it don't share it. It's a weird situation, but anyone who knows my family understands that this is just the way we are. My exposure to the Polish history in this family is limited to my grandfather's rants about Polish people being better than Irish people. Then my grandmother tells him to shut up and they both go back to their business. Nice, right?

The Irish half, however, is outspoken and proud to a fault. Family get-togethers used to always constitute getting drunk and singing/crying about "the old country" even though many of them have never stepped a single toe in Ireland. They are a family who is very proud of their history and their people, and I've always been taught to respect that. I've done my own bit of research into where this part of my family came from and have loved listening to the stories passed down over the years. My great-great grandfather, the O'Keefe half of the line, came from the county Cork. My great-great grandmother, from the Flavin line, is said to also be from the Cork region, but my grandmother seems to think she came from the county Clare, a part which is now known as Shannon.

Anyway, at a family picnic last weekend my grandmother told me a quick little story about how her family came to be known as the Keefe's rather than the O'Keefe's. Apparently my great-great grandfather was quite the pisser and he changed his name formally because a Keefe got his paycheck before an O'Keefe did. I have no clue how accurate this story really is. It seems far-fetched to me, but judging by the jokesters and smart asses in this family, there's a chance that this story is completely possible.

My curiosity in my heritage over the years is growing stronger and I'd really love to learn Gaelic. Tricky, I know. My friend Elis mentioned using the Rosetta Stone software to learn Japanese. Based on her experience and reviews I've gotten from other people, I guess this is the best way to learn a foreign language without sitting in a classroom. I'm bummed because the Rosetta Stone website doesn't list Gaelic as an available language, and so now I'm stuck and looking for a bit of guidance. Anyone know of a good starting point? I'm lost.

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