Irish American Mairéad Geary On Blogging
A - Inspiration for my blogging springs from my life long habit of being a bit of a daydreamer. Sometimes I might see an American signpost for a place name that reminds me of Ireland. Little things my kids say and do can stir my motherly need to write about their exploits. And of course, I love to write about my homeland, Ireland.
No matter how many years I spend living in America, Ireland will always tug on my heartstrings. I suppose part of my blogging is a journey to try to discover why Irish Americans feel so connected to Ireland.
Your description of my blog as “upbeat, informative, joyful and fun” is like music to my ears. Many Irish books and memoirs tell of miserable Irish childhoods. My school days in Ireland were full of joy, love and a deep feeling of belonging, and these are the happy memories I strive to share with readers.
I really enjoy cooking and sharing my Irish recipes on my blog. I have loved to cook since I was a very young girl, with baking my absolute favorite. When I first came to America I experienced many disappointments when my cakes didn't rise like they should, or my tea scones were as hard as hockey pucks. It has taken many years for me to tweak my mother's old Irish recipes, and to discover American ingredients that best resemble those found in Ireland, so that I can finally say I am pleased with my Irish American cooking. More to the point, my husband gives his seal of approval when he claims something tastes “just like my mother used to make.”
A - I wrestled with the idea of starting my blog for some months, before finally taking the plunge, writing a few posts, and sticking them on the internet for all the world to see. I feared being vulnerable through sharing my thoughts, thinking it might trigger a desire to hide from the world. Then I decided to look deeper at myself, to have faith in my own ability to write, to share meaningful memories, my love for my adopted land, and that of my birth.
I am so thankful I hit that “publish” button for the very first time when I launched my first post. I can’t believe I might have missed out on the joy, hope and satisfaction readers bring to my world through lovely comments and e-mails. On my blogging journey, I have discovered the courage of creativity, and the connection of community.
A - I recommend blogging using the Wordpress platform. I have heard it is easier for search engines to find posts on a Wordpress blog, but I am far from a technology expert. I have run into some technical difficulties along the way, but even with my limited computer knowledge I have been able to figure things out.
For information on traveling to Ireland I like to read the blog Got Ireland. It is written by a Corkman who spent many years living in California. Here is the link:
I enjoy reading Wee Kitchen for wonderful recipes and photographs from Ireland. Elizabeth McNally is an American whose family hails from Northern Ireland. She is a fantastic photographer, who loves to share Irish recipes with a very creative twist.
A - Many of my readers are Irish Americans who feel a deep connection to Ireland, the land of their ancestors. I love to read their comments and stories about how their families came to America. Sometimes my turn of phrase reminds them of words their Irish parents or grandparents used when they were growing up.
Other readers find my blog through Google searches, especially for Irish recipes. The two most popular recipes on my blog are for Irish potato cakes and Guinness Beef Stew.
Anywhere from 500 to 1000 readers visit my blog every day. The first two weeks of March my blog gets very busy, with many readers searching for Irish recipes to cook for St. Patrick's Day.
A - I often receive e-mails from fans thanking me for my recipes and ramblings. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed and might be asking myself why in the world am I spending so much time blogging and writing, an e-mail pops up in my inbox that answers that question for me.
Here is one such e-mail from a reader:
“I came from Ireland in '95 and 18 years later I am still here.
I was looking for an Irish pancake recipe and picked yours because it said “Shorove Tuesday”. I know you had to be from Ireland. I can't believe it—mushy peas, sponge cake, Christmas food and all your other information and entertainment. Thanks—this is what I need right now. Since I had my children I think more and more about home. I never ever look at websites, but this one has my attention. Hope you keep it up. I'm also proud to live in the USA. It has given me so much.”
Another reader contacted me to let me know about her first trip to Ireland, a dream come true for her. Here is what she said:
“This was my first trip home and I must confess I was a little scared and unsure about finally having a dream come true. But I must say I was not disappointed. The Irish people are amazing.
The countryside is breathtaking and the food is everything I ate as a child—yummy family food. I still can't believe I was able to have one of my life dreams come true. I now understand the pain and sorrow my great grandparents felt when they left home, but I also celebrate the remarkable legacy they built, and I am proud to be part of their story. I have to tell you, I found my heritage. I understand my story. And I too am proud to be an American Irish mom, wife, daughter, woman. Thank you and please keep writing to remind us all, about who we are, were we came from, and who our children can become…. “
When I read e-mails like these, I realize why I write. There are many of us out there on an Irish American journey and I hope my little corner of the world-wide web, is one where we can share our stories.
I wish I could say I have discovered an app or some piece of technology that could keep me on track, and productive when it comes to writing and blogging. Alack and alas, as a mother of four I get side tracked very easily, and no matter how well I plan things in my head, no day goes according to that plan. And so, my advice is to be flexible, fly by the seat of your pants, and always remember, family comes first. No blog post is so important that there isn't enough time for a cuddle to soothe hurt feelings or to find a bandage to cover backyard war wounds.
In five years time I hope I will still be writing, probably sitting right here at my kitchen table tapping away on my keyboard. I really enjoy the process of writing and find it very relaxing once my kids have been tucked up in bed and peace finally descends on our home. Then my imagination runs riot, and I can lose myself for hours creating new blog posts and working on my historical fiction novel set at the time of the Irish famine. Hopefully I will have finished my saga in five years time and I will be a published author... fingers crossed :)
My dream for ten years time would be to own homes in both Ireland and America. I would love to be able to live between both countries, be closer to my family in Ireland, yet always knowing that America is my home too. I better get working on my novel and make sure it's a best seller for this dream to come true.... if only I knew the secret formula for writing the next big hit.
I think another blog for me would be solely dedicated to cooking and not just featuring Irish recipes. I love to try new foods, tweak recipes, create dishes or “concoctions” as my husband loves to call some of my more exotic fare. But remember, he's an Irish man, who thinks salt and pepper are spices.
My only suggestion to you, Noreen, is to keep doing what you are doing. You write from the heart, sharing personal stories, with a beautiful Irish American flavor. You know the true story of the Irish in New York, not the Hollywood version. You have lived and experienced the real Irish American dream, which is built on hard work, a deep sense of community and pride in who we are. Your love of New York and your Irish heritage shines through your writing.