Robert Greaves was an Oxford Don who followed his much younger American wife to a professorship at the University of Kansas. I was one of a handful of students who studied British Constitutional History under him. We'd sit around a conference table in the Spencer Library, discussing original source documents, and, thereby, piecing together the roots of British order and, thereby, the roots of American order.
Professor Greaves was a short, rotund, elderly gentleman with a cultured drawl, a ring of white hair surrounding a bald pate, and a pair of reading glasses embedded on the tip of his nose. Peering over those glasses, he would often interrupt a disquisition by fixing me with a bemused look and stating, "Now, let's hear from Doctor Funnell [he referred to all his students as 'Doctor') for the Irish perspective on this subject." The resulting dialogue customarily took a variation of the following form:
Dr. Funnell: Why would I have an Irish perspective, Professor?
Prof. Greaves: Why, the surname, Doctor Funnell. Of course, your family is Irish.
Dr. Funnell: I was born and raised in New York.
Prof. Greaves: There are more Irish in New York than Dublin.
Dr. Funnell: That may be, but I'm from upstate, not the city.
Prof. Greaves: The Irish always were a wandering lot. Come now, out with it. Give us the Irish perspective, but only in prose. No poetry or song.
I loved that class.
One of the things I remember clearly was his observation that the power of Irish persuasive ability lay partly in their gift of music and poetry, especially when applied to the subject of rebellion.
"Why," he said, "I listen to that music and want to grab a gun and shoot my family."
Karan Casey and Michael Mac Goldrick make me feel similarly, only it's not my family I want to shoot.
Not that anyone gives a tinker's damn.