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It’s now that time of year when Irish festivals spring up around the world, tall leprechaun hats are donned and sales of Guinness soar. On St. Patrick’s Day, from Toronto to Tokyo, you can dance a jig in your “authentic” Irish-themed pub and celebrate the cultural influence of the Irish diaspora throughout the world.

It’s an appropriate time to think about “Irishness” and how it differs from “being Irish.” My subject matter here is the connections between Ireland and Irish emigre communities throughout the world, but it applies equally to all manner of emigre communities — from the relationship of Italian-Americans to Italy, Yoruba-Brazilians to Nigeria or Korean-Japanese to Japan. I’d also like to explore how bicultural tension can affect relationships with other cultures, including Japan.

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