Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-12 > 0914343670

From: Rob Hilliard <>
Subject: Those Wacky Diasporas
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 11:21:10 -0500

SI Listers,
It's true that 'diaspora' has the same root word as 'disperse', and it may
refer generally to any dispersion abroad. It was originally used most
commonly in reference to the Jewish settlement outside Palestine as
mentioned in an earlier post, but in recent years I believe I have heard
it most frequently used in reference to migration from the south of Ireland
as a result of the famine, etc., particularly with an emphasis on the
relocation to North America, although certainly including relocations to
other parts of the globe as well.
At any rate, I expect it can be argued
(and given our ethnic proclivity, I have no doubt it has been and will
continue to be) that Ireland has endured two distinct diasporas (??-
this damn dictionary doesn't list a plural) - one from Ulster in the 18th
and early 19th centuries and one from the southern portion of the island
in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. That being said, I have not even
the remotest intention of arguing this point.

So, enough semantics, let's get to what really counts: MY OPINION.
It happens that the thread relating to visiting distant relations came up on
the list shortly after I had an experience of this sort myself. Through my
good fortune, and the involvement of several people on this list, I've had
the good fortune to find several new (to me), living, breathing relatives in
the past year. All of these had ancestral ties to Ulster and, not coincidentally,
all had ties to western PA as well.

Might it be possible to argue that there has been a diaspora of SI here in the
US from their first settlement areas (Cumberland and Ohio Valleys, Carolinas,
New England) to the rest of the US and Canada? It would require a good
stretch of the word 'abroad' in the definition, but, food for thought, eh?

Where were we? Oh, yes, my new family members. Over Thanksgiving,
we were invited to spend an evening with a couple of these new relations.
One of these you are all quite well acquainted with, as she is none other
than the Listmistress with the Mostest (ah, whatever), Linda Merle. She
was back visiting her family and they were gracious enough to extend an
invite to me and mine.
So there we were. Via the 'Net, I'd known Linda and her sister, Laura,
for more than a year (This, however, does not prevent her from misspelling
my name - No "y", Linda. I'm cutting a switch for our next get-together
if you don't quit that.) Through our frequent correspondence, she'd proven
herself to be witty, charming, and a damn good researcher; essentially a
recipe for a great evening of SI discussion - minus the whiskey since her
brother-in-law wouldn't pony up.
So, in finest SI form, what was my initial reaction? Total discomfort, of
course. What would they think of me? Would I measure up as a member
of THEIR family, not just mine anymore (frankly, my dad would tell you I
don't even make it on that count)? Should I take my kids to their
house or not? (Corollary: What is the most expensive household item they
might have and could I afford to replace it when my daughters break it?)
Should I shave my beard or could I remember to brush the crumbs out
of it without my wife having to smack me under the table? Was Linda
really one of those ax-wielding maniacs who use the Internet to lure
naive innocents like me (snicker) into their homes only to make haggis out
of them?
(for the record - kids went along; beard stayed on; no axes, nor haggis,
were observed)
As it turned out, of course, it was a delightful, but far too short evening.
Laura's restored Victorian home is gorgeous; the company, which also
included their wonderful parents (who live not 15 minutes from where I
grew up), was outstanding; and we all quickly realized that there wasn't
going to be nearly enough time to cover all the genealogy that we wanted
to. The only faux pas (French for "Oh crap!") was that my wife accidentally
mortified them by trying to sneak crab meat into her 'vegetarian' artichoke
dip. I expect to forgive her sometime after the first of the year.

If you haven't dozed off by now and if your teeth aren't aching from all of
the sugar I'm shoveling, you're probably wondering why I bothered to share
all of this now. I submit that, no matter how much it may appear that way,
this is not simply a gratuitous attempt to get a really cool Christmas gift
from Linda by slathering her with praise in an international forum. Rather,
I'm simply trying to point out that, even for someone who is immersed up
to his posterior regions in the field of genealogy, who is quite sure of the fact
that he is related to the family in question, and who is required to travel no
more than a half-hour drive to meet these good folks, there is most certainly
anxiety before and during that initial visit. I'm quite positive that were all
the conditions in the previous sentence not true, or worse, if the visitors
were in fact invading my home by their own invite, this anxiety could
easily be great enough to want to call the whole thing off.

My $.02. Merry Christmas (Linda-I'll drop you a separate note and let
you know what my favorite color is.)


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