It was a cold, damp day of the kind that the Irish call summer. I’d paid my respects at the modest grave of William Butler Yeats and then meandered over to admire a narrow, windowless tower built to guard against marauding Danes a thousand years ago. I was en route with my mother to Galway for dinner with yet another gathering of cousins. She had planned this trip to call a halt to any further erosion of my Irish identity by immersing me in our enormous Gaeltachten clan.
After a week of this and gallons of tea, I was cherishing a moment alone. Standing by that ancient tower, braced against the wind off Sligo Bay, I was startled to recognize that I’d never felt so American. America claimed me as this ancient tower did not.