My Father Left Me Ireland
An American Son's Search For Home
Narrated by Michael Brendan Dougherty /
National Review senior writer Michael Brendan Dougherty delivers a mediation on belonging, fatherhood, and nationalism, through a series of letters to his estranged Irish father.
The child of an Irish man and an Irish-American woman who split up soon after he was born, Michael Brendan Dougherty grew up with an acute sense of absence. He loved his mother but longed for his father, who only occasionally returned from Ireland for visits. He was happy enough in America, but desperately wanted the sense of cultural belonging that his Irish half-siblings seemed to enjoy. When his first child was born, Dougherty knew he wanted to give her that kind of solid connection to her heritage.
Aware that he was becoming a cliché--the Irish-American who wants to be more Irish than the Irish--he began to study Gaelic. He buried himself in Irish history and learned old songs to sing to his daughter. Most significantly, he began writing letters to his father about what he remembered, what he missed, and what he longed for, realizing along the way that his longings were shared by many of his generation. These letters would become this book.
Many Americans today, of all backgrounds, lack a clear sense of cultural heritage or even a vocabulary for expressing this lack. And as the national conversation about identity becomes increasingly polarized, people tend to avoid talking about their roots altogether.
In these deeply felt and fascinating letters, Dougherty offers a new way for all of us to think about who we are, where we came from, and where we're going.
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