Festschrift for Tadhg Foley
Edited By Maureen O'Connor
Tadhg, Let’s Change the Subject James P. Walsh 215
Tadhg, Let’s Change the Subject James P. Walsh My Dear Cousin Tadhg, Let’s change the subject. Through five decades of correspondence I marvelled always at your multidisciplinary interests while you endured my single focus: the Irish experience in the West was different from elsewhere in America. Tadhg, it’s breakout time for me. Goodbye Irish Studies. Hello Women’s Studies! Yes, Women’s Studies. Here’s why. I expected my retrospective in Donald Jordan and Timothy J. O’Keefe’s Essays on Good Fortune to validate my life’s great work. The very wisdom of the Western Thesis would extinguish rival, heretical views on the mean- ing of life among the Irish out here in California. Not so. In his well-done review for the Irish Literary Supplement the arbiter of Irish American stud- ies, Lawrence J. McCaffrey, put the standard interpretation back on life support. The old history still rasps. Tadhg, remember that Studies article on Peter C. Yorke that you and I co-authored thirty-five years ago? Larry put spin on its meaning, thus questioning the Western Thesis. He also leaned on Janet Nolan’s Servants of the Poor for Irish women schoolteachers. By doing this Larry vouched for Nolan’s application of the standard Irish victimization theme to Cali- fornia. Now, at career’s twilight, I’m supposed to accept the San Francisco Irish as the Boston Irish, zinfandel and hot tubs aside. Fortunately, Tadhg, I’ve found a new life’s-great-work. Women’s Studies calls. It’s been dramatic. This conversion experience struck while researching my two-volume history of San Jose State University....
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