Irish on the Inside

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Tom Hayden first realized he was ‘Irish on the inside’ when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ in 1969. Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden’s parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability.

In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism. Assimilation, he argues, has led to high rates of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and domestic ...

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Tom Hayden first realized he was ‘Irish on the inside’ when he heard civil rights marchers in Northern Ireland singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ in 1969. Though his great-grandparents had been forced to emigrate to the US in the 1850s, Hayden’s parents erased his Irish heritage in the quest for respectability.

In this passionate book he explores the losses wrought by such conformism. Assimilation, he argues, has led to high rates of schizophrenia, depression, alcoholism and domestic violence within the Irish community. Today’s Irish-Americans, Hayden contends, need to re-inhabit their history, to recognize that assimilation need not entail submission. By recognizing their links to others now experiencing the prejudice once directed at their ancestors, they can develop a sense of themselves that is both specific and inclusive: ‘The survival of a distinct Irish soul is proof enough that Anglo culture will never fully satisfy our needs. We have a unique role in reshaping American society to empathize with the world’s poor, for their story is the genuine story of the Irish.’

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Every Irish American (and everyone in Ireland, too) should read Tom Hayden's brilliant and passionate book ... startlingly refreshing.”—Kerby Miller, University of Missouri

“Few Americans, and in fact few observers of any nationality, have written about that tormented province [Northern Ireland] with such sympathy and clarity, and it’s a relief to encounter someone taking the American political and journalistic establishment to task for its pro-British bias ... a work of the poetic imagination, lovely, imagistic prose”—Andrew O’Hehir, New York Times

“If you only read one book about Irish America, this should be it.”—Niall O’Dowd, Irish Independent

“Reveals Tom Hayden as a dreamer and a rebel. Could any Irish person ask for a greater honour?”—Martin O Muilleoir, Editor, Andersontown News

“Stirs our complacency and forces us to rethink what being Irish is all about.”—Patricia Harty, Editor, Irish America

“Tear down the lace curtain, dump the fruit and wake up, Joey. It’s timeto be something besides tired. This book is history over amnesia.”—Frank McCourt, Los Angeles Times Cover Review

“Tom Hayden’s Irish on the Inside is the stuff of great awakenings—not merely for Irish-Americans but for the descendants of every immigrant who ever embraced the revolutionary ideals of justice and solidarity that are both Irish and American.”—John Nichols, Capital Times

Los Angeles Times
Irish on the Inside is packed and demanding. You'll be charmed, perhaps, by Part I but, again perhaps, puzzled, mystified and at-swim in Part II. Read Part II slowly and, whether you agree or disagree with Hayden's uncompromising views—pro-Sinn Fein, anti-colonialist—you'll find it a valuable guide to the craziness of a troubled area.
Publishers Weekly
Hayden, a leading student activist in the 1960s and now a California state senator, writes about finding his Irish roots in a book that will have many Irish-Americans up in arms with its take-no-prisoners, leftist spin on Irish history. But he makes some very good cultural points. He speaks, for instance, of the "colonization of the mind" and how this affected the Irish under British rule and as immigrants in America, which largely started with the potato famine of the 1840s. Hayden's humor is mordant and dry as he takes on such "experts" on the Irish as former senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who thought the Irish lacked intellectual curiosity), and former governor Pete Wilson of California, who boasted of his Irishness while running anti-immigrant ads. He speaks of growing up in an Irish-Catholic family which could have come out of a Eugene O'Neill drama; his admiration for John and Robert Kennedy, particularly the thoughtful, saturnine Bobby who emerged after the death of JFK. Hayden then goes on to report on everything Irish in America, from the Molly Maguires and the "forgotten" San Patricios, to the politics of the wild Fenian revolutionary, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa. He then gives his spin on the struggle in Northern Ireland and how it was sabotaged for years by such Irish-Catholic luminaries as Tip O'Neill, Ted Kennedy and former House Speaker Tom Foley. Some of his points will outrage the Irish establishment in this country, but Hayden makes a strong case for his leftist interpretation of Irish and Irish-America history.. (Oct. 25) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
During the 1960s, Hayden was in the forefront of social justice activism, but the conflict in his ancestral homeland was not part of his agenda. Hayden's family had long ago suppressed its Irish identity to merge into Anglo-American society. That changed in 1968 when civil rights marches in Northern Ireland awakened in the young radical an awareness of his ethnic identity, and later friendships with Northern Irish activists Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness revealed the connection of Old World struggles with those in the New. This work is both a memoir and an examination of Irish and Irish American history. Unfortunately, much of Hayden's analysis is overly simplistic, accepting as self-evident claims the text does not otherwise support. For example, several times he asserts without qualification that the Irish Famine was "the greatest upheaval of nineteenth century Europe" conveniently ignoring such disasters as the Napoleonic Wars or the Revolution of 1848. As a personal memoir, however, this is a revealing look at Hayden's youth and his journey of self-discovery. Recommended for larger public libraries. Christopher Brennan, SUNY at Brockport Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pugnacious autobiographical treatise, in which former California state senator Hayden reclaims his Irish identity. Hayden's family emigrated to the US during the years of the Famine and quickly assumed the assimilationist role, both out of a desire to survive (the "wild Irish" were perhaps as despised as Natives and African-Americans, though they had an ace up their sleeve: the right to vote) and out of the shame that accompanied the Great Hunger and the subsequent flight into amnesia. Here, Hayden tells his story of regaining his Irishness, and why. In the Irish soul he finds appealing elements: rebelliousness, moral idealism, communal ethics, mysticism, all still in circulation despite the best efforts of the church and an occupation state. He finds in the language and music a cultural diversity akin to biodiversity, not only an intrinsic value but a strengthening and protective character for society writ large, for it is at once very much itself and inclusive. Equally attractive are historical ties of the Irish to radical movements and their experience with servitude: As both victims and victimizers-Hayden draws upon the treatment of African-Americans by the American Irish during the latter half of the 19th century-he also considers the Irish experience invaluable in examining how racial attitudes are formed, and how it can be subverted to form links with the nonwhite world through a common history of colonialism, starvation, poverty, and threats of genocide. The heart here, though, is in Hayden's time spent in Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland, and his efforts to understand-more so, to live-the unfolding of Irish history as it is played out along political,economic, and human fronts. An electric piece of emotional archaeology and a welcoming back of an ethnic spirit-nonconformist, open, ancient-that anyone could be proud to claim.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859846162
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2001
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Hayden
Tom Hayden has been a leader of anti-war, civil rights, and environmental movements in America since the 1960s. A California State Senator for eighteen years, he was part of the US Commerce Department delegation to Northern Ireland in 1995, and has authored legislation to include the Famine in California’s school curriculum. He is the author and editor of many books including Reunion: A Memoir and Irish Hunger.
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Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgements
Pt. I Irish on the Inside
Che Guevara, C. Wright Mills, and the Problem of Split Identity 22
What is an Irish Soul? 26
Growing Up Unconscious 30
Excavating Identity 37
The Long Day's Journey to Success 42
Suburban Dreams 50
Drinking, Sexuality, and Assimilation 55
Worldliness and Its Skeptics 63
Emmet and Paine: My Irish Radical Past 68
The Forgotten San Patricios 73
The Molly Maguires 75
Gangs are Us 78
An Alternative Assimilation 81
The Sixties Made Me Irish 85
Vietnam and the Irish Americans 88
Pt. II Going North
Northern Ireland, September 1976 121
Visiting the Republic, 1976 140
The Eighties: A Political Opening 145
The MacBride Principles 150
Return to the North, 1992 158
A Second Visit with Martin McGuinness 161
A Meeting with Gerry Adams, Belfast 163
Adams the Diplomat 178
The Colonized Economy 181
The Greening of the White House 194
The Handshakes at Stormont, October 13, 1997 204
Good Friday 211
The Parades Crisis 214
The Role of Police in War and Peace: The Patten Commission 238
Heart of the Matter: South Armagh 246
Back to Danny Morrison's 261
Pt. III Recovering the Irish Soul
The Republic: Corruption or Reform? 273
Notes 291
Afterword 306
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2002

    More Irish than the Irish themselves

    (Review from The Irish Times) Having worked with, and written about, Irish America I was excited to get this book. But my heart sank when I saw the dust jacket, a sort of the wraparound Irish tricolour done as the American flag. The cliché is true, you can judge a book by its cover, and my heart sank further when I read the first line, concerning `..the millions of Irish people forced by the Great Hunger of 1841-55 to become exiled immigrants to America.¿ So it¿s millions, now, and the Famine went on for 10 more years than we knew about. No wonder the Famine is described here, repeatedly, as `the greatest upheaval of 19th century Europe¿, completely ignoring the Napoleonic Wars and all those Revolutions which tore Europe apart. The Famine looms large in this strange and humourless book, as does just about every other perceived historical grievance against the Irish. Hayden¿s central idea is that Irish-Americans are shamed by their heritage, news perhaps to those of us who have seen the drum-pounding St Patrick¿s Day Parades in every American city. He recounts how the immigrant Irish were marginalized and ghettoised by the WASP establishment but this is so well documented now as to be a Hollywood cliché, and yet Hayden treats it as a new discovery. He then proceeds to make what, for a liberal Senator, is a rather tasteless comparison, that the Irish experience is still somehow akin to that of the genuinely marginalized, such as blacks and hispanics. Irish-Americans, in his eyes, are a sort of perpetual psyhic underdog, instead of the more familiar fat-cats of corporate boardrooms and an ethnic group which dominated the police and metropolitan politics. Hayden treats his own experience with ethnicity as an illustration of some perceived wider situation - thus the book¿s title - but there is little research here or new interviews. Instead, we get Hayden¿s personal journey, and bits of his reading. He too, it seems, denied his ethnicity, until he came to Northern Ireland and got involved with Sinn Fein. As he saw it, the denial of respectability to the Republican movement was akin to the Irish American¿s denial of their heritage. It is an interesting parallel, although in its banal solipsism and absorbed self-pity, it may tell us more about the Irish¿American mindset than Hayden thinks. Predictably, his perception of the North is of the most simplistic kind, and often stunningly naïve. The Unionists are barely mentioned, and only as an ugly colonial leftover. The British are constantly demonised but IRA violence is rarely mentioned, Indeed, one could read the entire book and not realise that Sinn Fein had an armed wing called the IRA. But Hayden is a smart man who has the details and writes fluently. Thus his language is not the Brit-bashing balladry of your average Irish-American, but the `liberation speak¿ of the glibly informed. To begin each chapter, he mixes quotes from Seamus Deane or Eavan Boland, with quotes from people like the sister of Robert Hamill (savagely murdered in Portadown) an insensitive use of genuine victims to make some vague political point, but in this he may be similar to his Sinn Fein friends, whose names he endlessly and glowingly endorses. (Incidentally, how did that once interesting feminist poet, Eavan Boland, become among the most sentimental of `Famine¿ poets? ). One feels for John Hume here, as he tries to convince Hayden that the McBride Principles, will lose jobs in Northern Ireland, but Hayden, sitting in his well-heeled Californian kitchen, won¿t hear of it. He knows better than `mistaken¿ John. And this is what is so aggravating about the book. Hayden is not just lecturing us about Irish-America, but about Ireland too. Can one imagine an Irish politican writing such a finger-wagging tirade about America ?. Sadly, however, such books are the reason why so much of Irish America is unpopular in Ireland. It reminds me of a friend in New York who was harangued abou

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    Posted April 26, 2011

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