A hibernophile is someone who loves Ireland and all things Irish. Is it weird that I am a hibernophile, although I have not one drop of Irish blood? My sister got her DNA analyzed and was pronounced 3% Irish, which we thought was odd for a Jewish girl. However, months later the DNA testing company notified her that the result was wrong.
I could see loving an exotic country to set oneself apart from the crowd. One of my friends, at age 70-something, goes to Thailand every year to get her Southeast Asia on. But America is full of Irish-Americans who have valid claim to the Irish culture and homeland. What right do I have to identify with all things Irish, to say “Slainte” when toasting, to wax rhapsodic when I talk of Ireland? Am I a “Plastic Paddy,” the derogatory term for Ireland-lovers I discovered in Wikipedia?
From the moment I stood in Kinsale admiring the view on my first day in Ireland, I knew that Ireland is special. I knew that I was, somehow, connected to Ireland. I can’t say what it means to be Irish, but I can say that I love Ireland. I want to learn about its villages and waterways. I want to understand its history so that I can understand its present. I want to know Dublin like I have known Washington, D.C. and New York. (I want to marry Glen Hansard, but that’s another issue.) Friends always me ask if I will move to Ireland, but there are probably some immigration laws in my way. Also, my family is here and I am still an American. But I am a proud hibernophile. Do not judge me.