With a name like Bailey, you’d expect that, way back in the beginning, I’m connected to this guy. Thousands of years ago in a place now called Clonycavan he was ritually killed (sacrificed?) and buried in a bog, preserved by the unique chemistry of the peat until recently, when he was dug up and put in the Irish national museum, where I saw him today.
His name, his culture and his identity are lost to time, but the Irish still claim him as one of their own, a connection back to a time before memory.
And that’s how I’m connected to him. My name, which I share with a popular brand of liquor, connects me in the public imagination with a time before my family’s remembering, and many Irish people would still claim me as one of their own. But the whole story of how that came to be was buried, ritually — sacrificed? — only to be unearthed later with much guesswork.
If you haven’t heard, I’m in Ireland for Chris Dbd and Sarah Hardy wedding. I’ve never travelled Europe, and I am so glad the happy couple invited me here and gave me a reason to see all of this. In part, it’s because my Mom’s parents were born in Europe, in a country that no longer exists, and I’ve heard so many stories about the place.
In another part, it’s because I’ve been learning a lot about reconciliation and white dominant culture these last few years, and many folks have encouraged me and my fellow white people to pay attention to our roots — to learn and understand that we come from somewhere, that our culture is not a default but an import. That to have heritage is to recognize and respect the heritage of others. And, to reconnect our culture and heritage to its own place, so that we can respect the indigenous culture of the place we now live.
So join me as I ponder these questions through Ireland, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. It’s going to be a fun trip, and even more fun to share it with you.