Join Editor-in-Chief Joshua Heston along with Ethan Grubaugh as they talk about St. Patrick’s Day, the history of the Celts, Hillbillies, and more.

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Links to stories discussed:

The Celtic World

Irish Games in the Hills

Watch behind the scenes on SOTO Media YouTube

Been thinkin’ about… The Celts.

Ancestry counts. And some parts of our ancestry seem to counts more than others.

Growing up, it was difficult for me to make sense of the world and I got angry often. I loved my hometown. I loved my family. But something inside longed for a compass of sorts: a three-dimensional true north of culture and meaning and past.
Wherever that was, I knew it couldn’t be bought at the local Kroger’s grocery store.

Over the course of my childhood, certain moments resonated profoundly. The horned king of Disney’s The Black Cauldron (which admittedly terrified me). Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. The lyrical poetry of All the Silver Pennies (“You must have a silver penny to get into fairyland…”). A love of poetry, of storytelling, and of taking to reading like a duck to water

And the fact that words never came uneasily, nor the memorization of poetry.
In the rolling hills of Iowa — brown and green hills that seemed to stretch forever to the western sun’s path — I began to listen to my grandpa’s stories. Amid the tales of carpenters’ accidents and Rocky Mountain breweries and the best crab meat to be found off the coast of Seattle (“so sweet you don’t even need butter”), I began to notice other bits and pieces of information: Great-grandpa was a “bench-legged little Irishman.” The Gwinns were of an old Welsh family. And Grandpa’s grandma was Zenith Beals, a “tall, gray-eyed Welsh woman with second sight.”

And so, as an adolescent, I charted a long course toward self-discovery, learning that some of my ancestry was indeed Celtic (Welsh and Irish) but that in me. And also that my Celtic ancestry chose to assert itself with over-arching strength.

The writings of W.B. Yeats, the songs of Enya and Loreena McKennitt, the crazy steps of Irish dance, the black Irish temper, the desperate need for personal independence.
I can tell you, this journey has been a pain in the ass, oft-tempered with misunderstanding, sometimes by the hands of those closest.

But without folks like me, this old world would be a terribly boring place. So like a four-leaf clover, consider yourselves lucky to have the “blessed children of Danu” in your midst. There’s purpose in our madness.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. Oh, and long live the Celt!

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