Described as a ‘one-woman show chronicling the life of Kate Kerrigan’ Am I Irish Yet? lays bare her problem as soon as she opens her mouth. No one would guess that she is in any way Irish. Her point, of course, is that being Irish is not defined by a way of speaking, an accent or the brogue. Being Irish is about what’s inside you; how you feel and where you sympathies lie and if you can add being born as second generation Irish with parents from Ballina, Co. Mayo and Killoe, Co. Longford, with the name Morag Prunty, then surely that should be enough to make you qualify.
Fascinating, often surprising and always worth reflecting upon
Her childhood, however, and hence formative years, were spent growing up in Hendon, north London, after a short spell in Scotland, until her mother decided she didn’t want her to have an accent from there. She married an Irishman and has two (Irish) children and has spent thirty-five years living in the Republic. So is she still a ‘Plasic Paddy’? It seems that people can change the description as the mood takes them.
In the 80s it suited many to see her as one of the ‘Bombing Irish’ yet in Ireland she was introduced to people as one of the ‘English cousins’. Living in London she was under threat from the same bombs as everyone else, even though her whole family were IRA supporters. She was working in a hairdresser’s next to Harrods in her late teens when the bomb went off in 1983. This and many more anecdotes, stories and accomplishments are forthcoming to illustrate the complex situations in which she has found herself over the years and the enduring issue of identity which will never leave her.
There is humour in her passionate and serious message, because that is the nature of life when you are dealing with people whose understanding of your situation is either completely lacking or totally misguided. It’s also refreshing to hear an angle on being Irish that is almost never expounded. Indeed that is one of her reasons for doing this show. Quite where it falls on the entertainment spectrum is difficult to say. Much of her performance sounds like an interview or late night chat show with an absent host. We hear the answers and can only surmise the questions.
Am I Irish Yet? Makes a valuable contribution to the identity debate; the answer to the question, “Where are you from,” that is asked of so many people from all over the world. In an age of diasporas the answers, like her show, are fascinating, often surprising and always worth reflecting upon in terms of how we perceive people.