Like any good Irish-American girl, I love tea and scones¹ and all kinds of potatoes, and I root for Notre Dame. I listen to Irish reels and can play Danny Boy with just the right amount of melancholy. I have a medal with images of St. Patrick and St. Bridget. I wear a Claddagh ring and can recite Yeats. And with my red hair and freckles, I look as Irish as they come.
Very few actual Irish people—as in, residents of Ireland—are named Erin. Over there, it’s used as a poetic name for the country² and very rarely as a name for an actual person. Before I was born, my parents told their Irish friends that they were thinking of naming me Erin. Their friends were surprised and said, “That’s like naming her America!” (Obviously, my parents were undeterred.) So no, Erins do not live in Ireland, though the name is as Irish as can be. Erins are most often third- and fourth-generation daughters of families who want to reconnect to their Irish roots. Their name reflects the heritage and traditions they hope to maintain, even as they are immersed in a new culture.
I’ve visited Ireland twice, the first time when I was eleven.
I visited Dublin again during my year abroad. In other European countries, I felt like I stood out as a foreigner (especially living in Italy), but in Ireland I got the impression that people assumed I was Irish and were surprised when I spoke with an American accent. It was nice to feel like I blended in with the crowd for once.
¹ The gluten-free ones are just not the same.