This week, I am curating the twitter account @ireland.
It is exhilarating, terrifying, exhausting and honestly one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.
Born in Ireland and raised in Australia from the age of seven, I have the experience of many migrants of belonging to more than one country and of missing the one I’ve left.
In some ways, it’s ridiculous for me to feel homesick for Ireland. I left there as a very young girl in 1972 and I have lived most of my life in Australia since then. There have been many visits ‘home’ and I lived with my uncle and aunt in Dublin for 6 months when I was a teenager, going to the local school and all. But my family, husband, children, friends, career and life are in Australia, which I happily call home.
I’ll also be going home (to my other home, Ireland, do try to keep up) in July this year and could not be more excited. I love so many things about Ireland but the main thing is that it’s Irish. I know. That’s a circular statement, but maybe other migrants will know what I mean.
People speak in Irish accents everywhere you go and it gives me a lovely warm feeling inside. I sometimes forget to answer or respond because I’m focused on feeling that delicious feeling.
The syntax – the arrangement of words and phrases – when Irish people speak English is divine. I don’t even know if I can explain this one. They add words to the beginnings and ends of sentences that don’t need to be there technically, but make the sentence better somehow. By making it more Irish-y. It’s a thing.
There is an intelligence and depth to the humour that you don’t get outside Ireland. (OK I’ll admit at this point that the blog I’m writing is not an objective assessment of Ireland and all things Irish, but when did I ever promise such a thing?)
There’s live music playing in pubs and there’s no sheet music or apparent conversations or decisions about what will be played. Someone just starts and others join in. How do they know which tune it is?
In Ireland, you can buy Tatos in the shops. Just like that. And eat them. And lick your fingers.
I rest my case.
Anyway, the twitter curating. Ireland is currently 9 hours behind Melbourne, Australia where I live so I am asleep during the day in Ireland and vice versa. I didn’t know if it would work, but it seems to have done so. I have a full-time job so it’s probably turned out to be OK as I’m not sure how I would have gone if I was trying to work and curate/tweet all day at the same time.
As it is, I curate and tweet early morning and late at night. I’ve stopped speaking to my family, I haven’t washed properly in days and I’m not getting enough sleep but I don’t care. It’s so much fun and so addictive.
I’ve been offered advice through the account about where to visit in Ireland, learnt about what @ireland tweeps do for a living and for joy, heard about the ways people maintain their physical and mental health, helped promote various protest/social cause marches and events beautiful and helped promote an appeal for a bone marrow donor (know anyone half Croation/Balkan/Greek? If so, please go to http://findtanadonor.com/tanias-story and see if you or someone you know can help).
I am very taken with the #WeAreIrish campaign started by Úna-Minh Caomhánach, an Irish woman with Vietnamese heritage. Tired of racial slurs and stupid questions, she started a campaign to capture images of people who are Irish, but don’t look Irish, and are regularly asked “Where are you really from?”. I tweeted about this and loads of people retweeted and liked and engaged and asked questions. And then out came the racist trolls with their ludicrous notion that they get to decide who is Irish and who is not.
The irony of me – being an Australian who has not lived in Ireland for over 40 years – being considered Irish by the idiots but Una-Minh – who lives there and is actually Irish being considered not Irish by the same idiots was not lost on me.
I suspect it was lost – along with many other things – on the trolls though. I used to feel sorry for trolls but having now seen first-hand what they say and do, I now have no empathy or compassion for them. I see now that they deliberately say appalling things designed to offend and hurt and then sit back to observe and enjoy the reactions and pain they cause. There’s no excuse for that. I don’t care how terrible your life has been – racist trolling behavior is reprehensible and sub-human. (If you’re reading this and you’re an ugly little troll, go to your room and deactivate your stupid made up account with 25 followers. We’re not interested in your opinions).
On a happier (and somewhat related) note, I discovered what a small world it is. On my first day curating, an @ireland follower saw a video of my dad, Barney, who lives in Australia and recognized him from the summer/winter Irish language schools my dad has taught at during visits to Ireland over the years. We engaged over that and my mum and dad loved hearing about it. Then after I saw them tweet about their program and got in touch, a community radio volunteer did a shout out to my uncle and aunt in a tiny village in Clare.
Curating this account is a joy. I’ve had so many laugh-out-louds at tweets and so many lovely exchanges with people. And I’ve learned so much. I recommend curating to anyone who is interested in learning about Irish places, passion and social movements and who wishes to experience the warmth, intelligence and wit that Irish people are known for.
I hope some of the people I’ve gotten to know a little will follow me at my usual account (@MarciaDevlin) and I can follow you back and I can hold onto a little bit of this beautiful Irish experience.
Thank you to everyone who has engaged this week. I will be sad when it ends tomorrow, but I guess it will be good to have a shower and re-introduce myself to my family.
Slán for now (yep, learnt some of the language as well – is there no end to my talents?)