“A lengthening chain in the shape of memories”: The Irish and Southern Culture

Irish rockers U2 are committed fans of B.B. King and wrote the song "When Love Comes to Town" at his request. Bono and Adam Clayton of U2, in Raleigh, North Carolina, 2009. Photographed by Audrey Popa.

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“A lengthening chain in the shape of memories”: The Irish and Southern Culture

by William R. Ferris
Southern Cultures, Vol. 17, No. 1: The Irish

"Irish rockers U2 are committed fans of B.B. King and wrote the song 'When Love Comes to Town' at his request. The song introduced King to important new rock audiences."

To explore the relationship between Ireland and southern culture is for many southerners an intensely personal journey. My own family has Irish ancestry on both sides. Because of those ties, I have always felt an affinity for Irish history and culture. When I first read James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in the late fifties as a student at Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, Joyce and his protagonist Stephen Daedalus spoke to me in a deeply personal way. I embraced the book as a manifesto for my own rebellion from the web of politics, religion, and family that defined my life in the American South.