My late father was German, but my mother is a full-throated Irishwoman, born Mathilda Gertrude Edwina O’Donnell. You don’t get much more Irish than that without potatoes coming out of your ears, a shillelagh whipping the kids’ backsides and “Danny Boy” playing through the speakers of your mind at full blast. (That's Tillie on the left, Fred on the right, with me and my wife between,
Now, a caveat. I was named for my mother’s grandma O’Donnell, who was born Anna Korzeniowski, in New Bedford, Mass., in 1867. Anna’s dad was Polish, her mother English. Dana is a Polish name, and sounds as much like Anna as my sister Michael’s name sounds like Mathilda. It took me six decades to figure all this out – the Polish origins of Dana are why I’m the only Dana Blankenhorn you’ll ever see or hear from (a great present from my mother to the Internet age). But my grandmother was born a Cooney, and they’re even more Irish than the O’Donnells.
What this means was that I just had to make a pilgrimage to Ireland. I had to go to Ireland, in the worst way.