The Irishness of Bruce Springsteen
Did you know that the Boss, Bruce Springsteen, responsible for such albums as Born to Run, Greetings from Asbury Park and The Rising is Irish?
By Conor Hogan
Itâ€™s a well-known fact that if a person achieves global fame in the world of art, entertainment, politics or sport then there is a very good chance that they have some remote link to our glorious, wet rock in the North Atlantic.
If any sort of a link can be established, regardless of how remote, then we own that individual and we can rightfully expect them to publically attribute their greatness to the Irish blood in their veins, appear on the Late, Late Show and ultimately lead the St Patrickâ€™s Day parade down Oâ€™Connell Street.
The boss, Bruce Springsteen, may have a Dutch surname, but heâ€™s as Irish as dipping Tayto crisps in Red Lemonade.
Springsteenâ€™s great great grandmother on his fatherâ€™s side was a woman by the name of Ann Garrity, who hailed from Rathowen just outside Mullingar in Co. Westmeath. Like so many, she emigrated during the Great Famine, arriving in the United States in 1852. She settled in the town of Freehold in New Jersey â€“ the town Bruce himself was born in 97 years later.
The Bossâ€™s paternal grandfather, Fred Springsteen, was the son of Anthony Springsteen and Martha Ann Oâ€™Hagan, and was of 50 per cent Dutch and 50 per cent Irish heritage. His paternal grandmother, Alice Springsteen, was of 100 per cent Irish heritage. Overall, he is 37 per cent Irish, which is more than enough for us to claim him.
Springsteen was raised Catholic and attended the St. Rose of Lima Catholic school, where he was taught by Irish nuns. He had several run-ins with these women, who would often beat him or instruct other children to do so.
His Irish heritage and especially traditional Irish folk music and hymns have greatly influenced his career. One of his more recent songs, American Land, tells the story of how America was built on the backs of immigrants including the Irish.
Lines include: â€œI docked at Ellis Island in a city of light and spire/I wandered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire/We made the steel that built the cities with the sweat of our two hands/And I made my home in the American land.â€
Springsteen first played in Ireland in 1985 at Slane Castle and in the last ten years has performed almost annually here. His exceptional popularity never seems to wane â€“ tickets for his concerts tend to sell out in less than half-an-hour.