An actor, movie maker and author finds camaraderie and a sense of belonging in many visits to his ancestral homeland.
Arriving in low spirits from a dreary London, I kissed the ground the first time I visited Ireland as a very young man—my friend snapped a photo of me doing it. My father’s family had come to America from the “Old Sod” generations earlier, but that vague awareness carried little import in my life at the time. Why I dropped to my knees and kissed the tarmac like some kind of youthful, heathen pontiff, I couldn’t explain to my bewildered, camera-toting friend. By the time we left three weeks later (we had intended only a weekend getaway), I had begun to understand my impulsive act.
In the mid-1980s, Ireland was a poor country, yet we were welcomed with an openheartedness that allowed me to relax in a way I’d not previously experienced. I felt strangely at home, in a fashion that I had never felt in the suburban New Jersey of my youth. In Dublin and Cork, and especially in the Irish countryside, I felt myself received.