In small rural Irish villages the term ‘blow-in’ is often used to classify anyone not born in the immediate surrounding locality. In other words a blow-in is a person who has relocated to an area, who has no roots there.
Using Irish terminology I am a ‘blow-in’ to Kentucky. In fact I’ve been a ‘blow-in’ to New York, New Jersey, Florida and Texas.
Now, you can become a ‘blow-in’ by marriage, and trust me it may take many years, even until you reach your Golden Anniversary, to lose this seemingly not-so-honorary title.
You may have been born less than thirty miles down the road from your new abode, but for all intensive purposes you are still a ‘blow-in’.
Definition Of A Blow-in:
The geographical lines used to define ‘blow-in’ status are mysterious, and cannot be aligned to any contour line or marking on a topographical map.
Only the locals of each and every village know who qualifies or who doesn’t qualify as a ‘blow-in’, but here are some of the eligibility requirements I am aware of ….
You might be a blow-in if ….
- you were not educated in the local schoolhouse;
- you cannot name every hill and townland within a five mile radius of your new home;
- you don’t hail from a long line of ancestors with deep rooted ties to the locality;
- the intonations of your accent are not in perfect sync with the linguistic pathos of the locals;
- you do not roll your “RRRR’s” with the exact same vibrations the local accent requires.
The people of County Cork where my forebears hail from, love to use the term ‘blow-in’.
They have grown very accustomed to ‘blow-ins’ over the years, from Spanish sailors whose ships washed ashore during the Spanish Armada debacle of 1588, to colorful hippies arriving in West Cork.
Today’s County Cork blow-ins are creative thinkers, land-lovers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and ocean lovers. Blow-ins settle in Cork from all corners of the world, but especially from Germany, The Netherlands, America, England and Scotland.
I often wonder if these new settlers grow alarmed upon first hearing the term ‘blow-in’.
Despite my Cork ancestry, I’m well aware that if I chose to return there to live, then I would be a ‘blow-in’.
Now you may hail from a long line of ancestors born and reared in an Irish locality many years ago, causing you to assume you are an honorary local.
Alack and alas, you are still a ‘blow-in’. If your ancestors emigrated to another corner of the world to make their fortune, then upon your return to their native soil, you are still none other than a ‘blow-in’.
Flattering Or Unflattering Title???
Now don’t grow disheartened. This term is not as derogatory as it may seem upon first hearing.
Believe it or not, you may even be called a ‘blow-in’ to your face. It is a very acceptable term for every day conversation.
Being a ‘blow-in’ does not signify you are not welcome, even though to most who do not understand the nuances of Irish life and speech, this term may appear very insulting.
In fact when calling someone a ‘blow-in’, locals may simply be letting you know they recognize you are new to the area, and they are ready and willing to help in any way they can.
Some Irish people even introduce themselves as a ‘blow-in’. A Kerry woman settled in Cork will always tell you she is a ‘blow-in’ to the Rebel County.
Perhaps, acceptance of this title is a way of letting locals know one’s home county will never be forgotten.
I often wonder if newcomers to Ireland feel welcome, or do they always feel like outsiders, who “aren’t from around here.”
Did the term ‘blow-in’ evolve from our medieval, clannish Irish ways?
Is it a reflection of our Irish pride, especially pride in our place of origin?
Have you ever been called a ‘blow-in’?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but please feel free to join this light-hearted conversation in the comments section below.
On Being A Blow-in To America …
Wherever the winds of change have blown me across America, the people of my adopted states of Kentucky, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and New York always made me feel welcome. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for adopting this Irish ‘blow-in’.
And so today I salute ‘blow-ins’ everywhere. I hope you feel welcome in your new homes and honored for the diversity you bring to your communities.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings),
Irish American Mom