When I had the good fortune to travel to Ireland a few years ago, I was almost sent home at the first airport customs checkpoint because of how little money I was carrying. The thought of this happening had never crossed my mind--I'm American for crying out loud! Biggest military power in the world, ever heard of us? Everybody loves Americans, right? Can't I do anything I want? Not exactly. Penniless Americans aren't that popular. But, as it turns out, everybody loves Texans, even broke ones.
Though Irish by descent, my "Texas heritage" would be a trait I would learn to play up in the coming months, even exaggerating (or faking) a Texas accent. I shrugged and claimed ignorance when asked for the 50th time who killed J.R., and I nodded and smiled politely upon hearing the 60th joke about oil wells and horses littering my front yard. Stereotyping is generally a two-way street, and I just as easily could have teased my fine McFriends about their renowned proclivity for alcohol, but, since I wasn't buying, protesting seemed against good cultural relations--or at least good bar etiquette.
Those who are not alcoholically inclined or easily pigeonholed by two-dimensional stereotypes shouldn't worry. Good-natured cultural exchange is still within reach at the 19th annual North Texas Irish Festival, a well-rounded and even educational affair. This year's festival focuses on Irish-Scottish links. Festivities include an Urchin Street Faire for children, step-dancing presentations, the requisite vendors, food, storytelling, various Celtic exhibits, about three dozen international and local musical groups on seven stages, Irish drum (bodhran) and guitar workshops, and an introduction to Celtic wind instruments.
The North Texas Irish Festival is 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Fair Park's Esplanade and Automobile and Centennial Buildings. Tickets are $11, or $17 for a two-day pass. Call (214) 821-4174.
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Unfortunately, here, a Texas dialect will not help anyone stand out, and claiming Ewing family ties won't get any favors, so it's time to start brushing up on the brogue. Erin Go Bragh, y'all.