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  • Ringsend native publishes memoir on American life

    Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

    Angeline Kearns Blain, a woman raised in 1950s Ringsend who today is an adjunct professor of sociology at Boise State University in Idaho, has published a memoir. “I used to be Irish” is being lauded by critics for its insight into a story too little told: the experience of Irish women emigrants.

    Angeline Kearns Blain left Ireland at the age of 18 in 1957 to become the wife of an American soldier she had met at a Dublin bus-stop.  The streetwise young woman had been consciously focusing on Americans as romantic targets in order to escape her working-class life as a cinema ice-cream seller. After settling in New England with her conservative, Protestant husband, she eventually settles in Idaho Falls where her husband gets a job at a government nuclear research facility. She would suffer a nervous breakdown and a marital breakup before turning to education and a career in academia.

    The Irish Independent says “Her memoir is extraordinary, told with blunt honesty and scathing with. It’s a long way from the flats in Ringsend to being a professor at an American university”.

    The Irish Times review notes the subversive nature of Kearns Blain’s story:

    I Used To Be Irish exposes both the gender and class fault-lines not traditionally attended to in accounts of emigration: Kearns Blain’s overtures to a fellow Dublin woman emigrant marooned alongside her in a backwater town are spurned when the Loreto College graduate in question discovers that Angeline left school at 14 to scavenge dumps. The memoir upends the popular image of the Irish emigrant, that of the raw country boy pining for rural simplicity in a debauched foreign land: Kearns Blain is a streetwise Dubliner who knows enough about American popular culture to initially act the pure Irish colleen to beguile her GI, a teetotaller Puritan who later winces each time Angeline lets slip some obscene Dublin colloquialism or orders a shot of whiskey.

    Angeline Kearns Blain has also written a memoir of her Dublin childhood, called “Stealing Sunlight”.

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