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CELTIC-L  February 2008

CELTIC-L February 2008

Subject:

Re: Questions of identity

From:

Gil Hardwick <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:38:44 +0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (188 lines)

Hi Kenneth,

For most of us out here in places like Australia there has always been a 
very clear distinction between ourselves and the English; most 
pointedly, that is, the Anglo-Saxon and especially the established 
Anglican Church on the one hand, as against Kirk, and the Roman Church 
on the other.

In those places where government funded schooling was deficient, 
generally speaking we traveled "two roads" as Aboriginal people say in 
reference to the fact that they send their kids to school, but also 
during holidays take them out to learn their traditional culture as 
well. Our old people would take us children on their laps and make us 
learn differently, telling us clearly there were different ways of 
looking at things. A lot of the old men would take us out shooting; 
outdoors anyway, making us learn how to live in the bush and be 
self-sufficient.

Also a lot of the family in the old days were instrumental in setting up 
our Presbyterian boarding schools, and no less in pressing for 
flexibility and tolerance in our new constitution in the lead-up to 
Federation, especially in Land Law but also in the broad disbursal of 
powers we see today.

Where the enforced policy in Australia was for many, many years to quell 
the speaking of languages other than English, quite brutally at times 
with children being canned repeatedly for their lapse, the authorities 
never succeeded in quashing other social and cultural habits of ours 
including Sunday School picnics, celebrations of Christmas for example, 
and most particularly our large gatherings not just for games but most 
noticably weddings and funerals when all the families would attend and 
as often fights breaking out over some resentment or other.

People often considered us a proud, fractious, willful, disunited, 
disobedient lot but any from outside who came in to criticise would soon 
feel the solid front against them.

Three further matters stand out. The first is that family history and 
genealogy, and keeping track of all the different relatives, is almost 
obsessive. We all know our origins and who we are; we all know how we 
came to be here. If someone was not sure they would know someone who did 
know. The family historians and story-tellers are very highly regarded 
and often spoken about.

If things came to the worst could return to the various old places and 
settle in pretty much as we left. That may sound a little ambitious 
because of course there are differences now, but a lot of us have been 
back and forth over a long period without fuss. New people arriving here 
from Ireland and Scotland, as well as the West Country, likewise quickly 
rejoin the conversation.

The second concerns the fact that our people are excellent farmers, 
especially livestock husbandry; cattle horses, sheep. We are very close 
to the land, and I do not mean that in a loosely patriotic way rather 
concerned with providing for the family and keeping things going. There 
is a depth and a patience there that you simply do not see in the 
industrialised, hierarchical races.

The third matter finally is not unrelated to that closeness to the land, 
or 'God's Creation' as we say; in being what we call being 'fey'. There 
is an 'otherworldliness' about a lot of our people; not everyone but 
enough in each generation to keep the thing potent and alive. This 
especially is where we are far more similar to Aboriginal people here 
than to anybody else.

The thing hardly needs to be mentioned without causing a murmur rippling 
back and forth in a gathering, where your English will scoff derisively.

One of my recent novels exploring this business between Scottish 
pastoralists and the Aboriginal people on their stations has just won a 
national literary award for Best Fiction. It will be announced this week 
I think.

In that I am happy to see that the notion is still close enough to 
people's hearts for it to have such an impact.

Gil

Kenneth Smith wrote:
> Hello Gill and all following and contributing to this thread--
>
> First it was a question of ethnicity, and I asked the question of my 
> father when I was still quite small, perhaps age 10 or so, what people 
> did we come from.  Those questions became intensified with the 
> television series "Roots" back in the 1970s in which the ancestral 
> lineage of an African American was traced back in time to how their 
> family came to the US drawing from the oral history of the family 
> regarding preserved African words. My father had replied we were 
> Irish, but he gave hardly any specifics other than that his 
> grandmother had been Irish.
>
> When I entered college in 1976 I began to do research and this was 
> when I first began to understand that Irish culture at one time had 
> been a Gaelic culture, and was different from our own. I purchased my 
> first Irish language grammars at this time, and the large Focloir 
> Gaeilge, which I still find difficult to read.
>
> It was when the May 1977 National Geographic appeared in which the 
> feature article was devoted to the entirety of Celtic culture and the 
> extent to which European Archaeology could state certain things about 
> that culture.  It was at this point that I understood that the Irish 
> were part of a larger people, a Celtic people, and that their own and 
> larger culture was separate from others because of certain things, 
> like language, religion to some extent in the ancient times, and the 
> music and dance across regional difference from one part of the Celtic 
> realm to the other.
>
> This was in the days before genetics, and most of the conclusions were 
> still based on the 19th century invasions theory made popular during 
> the 19th century, then later developed by Maria Gimbutas in which she 
> replaced Baltic elites where "German" Aryans had been. It gave me a 
> point of identity, that I had come from something larger and more 
> ancient than southern US culture. I began studying what Irish culture 
> and the larger Celtic culture meant.
>
> Recently I learned that genetic tests were available and thus paidfor 
> a service to help de-mystify my questions about my paternal lineage by 
> which the name Smith had come down to me. It confirms that more than 
> just a Celtic contribution from the paternal great grandmother, my 
> Y-chromosome comes from a Celtic population as the Y-chromosome is 
> passed father to son through generations largely unchanged, and the 
> degree to which it changes is a science understood by geneticists. I 
> then began to find out that I was not genetically related to other 
> Smiths either in the US or Europe in existing DNA databases, and 
> learned that I had more genetic cousins who were named McMahon, 
> O'Rourke, McTierney, et al. I also checked the MacGowans of Ireland, 
> and I am not related to any of them either.  I also determined I have 
> some kind of lineage in common with Colla Uais of Dalriada and 
> Ireland, and through him to Conn of the Hundred Battles. It's 
> possible, perhaps probable.
>
> So it is a way of knowing who I am, perhaps why I have the kind of 
> temper I have, which will be the death of me. There is wealth in 
> knowledge, and in this kind of self-knowledge particularly.  Many of 
> the descendants of the Irish, Scots, Welsh and others in the southern 
> US have absolutely no idea from whence their ancestors came. Some ask 
> the questions I asked; most do not. My father certainly did not. For 
> instance I recently informed the husband of my son's Cub Scout pack 
> that "Kelly" is the "recent" anglicized spelling from the old way. 
> This individual was absolutely surprised there had ever been an old 
> way (e.g., "Ceallaigh").
>
> Cionaodh
>
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Gil Das" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 11:35 AM
> Subject: Questions of identity
>
>
> As a follow on from my previous message,
>
> (for those living away from their suspected land of origin), at what 
> point
> did you realise / suspect / hope (which one?) you were of 'Celtic' 
> origin ?
> did your parents / grandparents have the same feelings - i.e. is it 
> part of
> your family traditions that this is your heritage (I'm really 
> interested in
> at what point / generation this ancestry became important / 
> re/emphasised)?
>
> Can anybody sum-up what 'being Celtic' means to them; and what cultural
> attributes define this identity?
>
> These are questions that may inform my research, so I'd be grateful for
> responses
>
> Thanks very much in advance,
>
> K
>
> You can unsubscribe yourself by logging in on the list archives page 
> at 
> https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A0=CELTIC-L&X=36DAE1476AF514EF73, 
> selecting the 'join or leave Celtic-L' link and going through the 
> unsubscription routine there.
> You can unsubscribe yourself by logging in on the list archives page 
> at 
> https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A0=CELTIC-L&X=36DAE1476AF514EF73, 
> selecting the 'join or leave Celtic-L' link and going through the 
> unsubscription routine there.
>
>

You can unsubscribe yourself by logging in on the list archives page at https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A0=CELTIC-L&X=36DAE1476AF514EF73, selecting the 'join or leave Celtic-L' link and going through the unsubscription routine there.

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