But it’s not just the Irish and the Yankees anymore. It’s the Haitians and the Dominicans, the Cape Verdeans and the Vietnamese. And that, of course, is a good thing.
Quinn mentions the title of Noel Ignatiev’s book, How the Irish Became White. “To me, that puts the whole equation on its head. It wasn’t how they became white, it was how they stayed Irish through that process, how they didn’t give up that sense of themselves.”
The new question, perhaps, is, how will the Irish become brown? Quinn remembers a photo essay in Time magazine showing a series of multiracial kids. They were Polynesian and Jewish and Italian. But the most common ancestry in the group was Irish. “That,” he says, “is our destiny, and that’s a great thing. To be a common element in this mass miscegenation, which I think is the best thing that can happen in America.”
Boston’s Irish are scattered now. All over New England, and America, and the world. As frontman for Dropkick Murphys, Ken Casey spends more than half of every year touring the country and the globe with the band — acting, in effect, as ambassadors of Boston Irish culture. (“The world’s biggest ballbusters,” he calls his people.)
“We travel all over,” Casey says, “and you see every night at our shows, there’s a little contingent of Boston transplants. I think as the close-knit Irish community spreads out, it’s very similar to the way the Irish themselves were. They emigrated all over the world, and took their personality with them.”