A Co. Tipperary woman, who has lived in the United States since the 1980s, has written a memoir of her experiences growing up in Ireland and as an immigrant living in the United States.
Imelda Cummins-DeMelkon’s book “The Modern Voice of An Irish Immigrant” is currently on sale at The Bookworm in Thurles and is available in Kindle form through Amazon.com.
The freelance writer from Mitchel St., Thurles says her book recounts her life growing up in Co. Tipperary as one of a family of 12 children. Her childhood summers spent at the farm of her grandparents, the Lawrences at Kilconnell, Cashel (located between Fethard and Cashel) are fondly remembered.
She said her childhood experiences will remind many people of how life in rural Ireland used to be.
The book also deals with Imelda’s move to the United States in the late 1980s during the height of the country’s last major recession when she was in her early 20s and her life as an Irish immigrant in America. She recalls that at one stage eight of her siblings were living in different parts of the United States. Imelda initially lived in New Jersey and taught religion at Catholic schools.
Her plan was to stay for just a year but she ended up settling in the US. She married an Armenian-American and the couple moved to rural Virginia where they has lived for the past 17 years with her husband and son.
In the book she says she draws parallels between her and other immigrants who strive to hold onto their identity through immersing themselves in their native culture. In her case, she recalls running ceilis and teaching Irish classes.
Imelda, who taught speech and drama at Rockwell College before emigrating, says she chose to live in Virginia because it was very like Ireland. “It’s rural, it just feels like home and the people of more friendly there.”
And even her choice of school for her son was influenced by her experiences of growing up in Ireland, opting for a small school with similar values to the one she attended growing up.
Imelda says she also deals in the book with the issue of aging parents and how to best look after their needs.
She points out in the book that one of her motivations for leaving Ireland in the 1980s was to break free from the strict upbringing of her dad. The book describes how that journey has now come full circle and she concludes that ultimately we share more than we think with our parents and that all families have conflicts, which can be resolved if we are willing to work at it.