14 October 2011
1 hour, 44 minutes
Ireland House Oral History Collection, Archives of Irish America, New York University
Mike Farragher (b. Jersey City, NJ, 1966)
Excerpt No. 1
Growing up with strict Irish Catholic parentsDisc 1, Track 2, 14:04– 15:58
Transcription of Excerpt No. 1
MD: So you and your brother went to church every week then, with your parents?
MF: Absolutely every week. That was a rule of the house that was non–negotiable and...
LA: Into adulthood
MF: Laughs. Yeah. But I think the Irish, you know, going back to your question about being raised Irish American. Because we were in such an enclave, we didn't really know that there was another way to be raised, right? So it's not until you go to college or something that you see how other people were raised. And, you know again, there's a sense of sacrifice, there's a sense of family. You know we were joking about it before the tape went on, it's that, I know my parents are very proud of me but they won't really tell you that too much because that they don't want that to go to your head. And, you know one of the conversations we had before the tape started was, I just graduated with my masters degree and one of the gifts I got, as a congratulations, was a t–shirt that said, "Ejit" and you know you could think, "well that's cruel," but it's not because what it says is, you know, "congratulations, we're proud of you and don't get too big of a head." So I think that's a real thing about Irish American, being brought up Irish American, and Irish by the way, Bono has often said that as well, it's that, you know the Irish will never let you get too big for your own head. So, there's an element of, you know, if you want to psychoanalyze that, I think there's some of it around you're always trying to prove yourself because you're not always getting that level of affirmation. And, then eventually when you get comfortable enough in your own skin you kind of let that go. But that was definitely, a major driver I think because you, the part of the immigrant dream is that you do better than your parents did. So that was an expectation.
Excerpt No. 2
Going to Ireland as a ChildDisc 1 Track 3, 00:24:57–00:27:15
Transcription of Excerpt No. 2
MF: It was always a very, very emotional experience. Yeah
MD: Even when you were a child?
MF: Even when we were a child. Yeah, very vivid memory of that.
MD: So when you were over there what would you and your brother do?
MF: We rode the horse, Tom. He was a gray horse, I'm sure he's in a glue factory right now. I don't know where he is, but God rest his soul. We fed chickens, we caught eggs, we were delighted that the eggs came out of the chickens, we never saw that. We rode the horse Tom, we milked cows, we birthed cows, we just lived a farming life. I mean if you put a gun to my head today could I udder, you know could I milk a cow? I don't think I could but then, of course, they're all automated now but I definitely have those experiences. I remember a calf being born and I remember sheep, you know, being born as well, that was a great experience.
LA: How did, you guys said that you were emotional, but when you go over there as the American cousin, was, how are you accepted or treated or did you, were there gatherings of people that would come in when you were there or was it just, did you just sort of blend in?
MF: I think the thing that stills moves me, and it still moves me just talking about it, is that my aunts and uncles always say, "welcome home." So, you always feel so welcome. You know, they view you as "you're home." You know, whereas, somebody would say, "oh my aunts and cousins are here but you know there was some of that but there was always a very, very welcoming "you're home now." You know, so, I always feel that when I go over.
MD: So do you consider Ireland kind of like a second home to you?
MF: Absolutely. Yeah. And I don't really buy into reincarnation or anything like that but there is that sense when you're walking between your uncle's house and next door in your grandmother's house, there's that little blacktop there and you just feel, that's where your dead––, that's where your grandfather, you know, had a sudden heart attack in that field and all of those things you definitely get a sense that you're not walking down that road alone. It's really great.
Excerpt No. 3
Seeing the Ad in The Irish VoiceDisc 1, Track 6, 55:16–57:41
Transcription of Excerpt No. 3
MD: What first attracted you to journalism? Was it in college or when you were like a teenager?
MF: No it wasn't, it was actually, you know, I read The Irish Voice every week, for years and that was a place I kept up with my culture and my day job by the way is I'm a director of sales for a women's health company, a molecular biology company, so writing is not what I do full time, it's just my fun career. So I had just had a million dollar order at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, in my briefcase, I went into the gift shop and I read The Irish Voice and there was an ad that said, "Wanted: Music Columnist," and I forgot about the million dollars in my bag and that's when I knew, like, there was something not in my life that needed to be there so I, I was around thirty years old and I wrote, I B.S.ed my way into The Irish Voice and gave them some writing samples and they gave me one little column, and then it was a half page, and now I have the whole page. And...
MD: So you had no prior journalistic experience?
MF: No, no, and it was just...
LA: What samples did you send them?
MF: Laughs. I don't even remember. I think I, you know, I wrote one or two things in, in college but nothing, I don't even remember how I did it but I beat out some pretty decent people from it I later found out so I'm pretty amazed but there was just something, that was sort of that "St. Paul off the horse" moment for you when you go, something's not right in your life if a million dollars in your briefcase didn't excite you but that did. So, I later found out that, you know, writing doesn't really pay the bills or, it takes a lot of money to be Mike Farragher, let's just put it that way, so you always need to have the day job, but I've told my boss, any boss that I've ever worked with, what's really great about my life is that I, I have a creative outlet so that when I go to work on a Monday morning it's not "Uhh, it's Monday", you know, because I'm living a really full, balanced life. The creative element of writing for The Voice, having that weekly discipline, having that weekly outlet to express yourself has made for the most delicious life, just the most extraordinary life.