London Journal


“I felt like I snuck into the country.

For many months, I worried about how to answer the woman at the customs counter in the airport. All my life our dialog had been the same:

“What is your purpose for coming to this country?”


“How long will you be staying?”

“Three to five days.”

I was quite worried how to answer this time. “Coming to live here” and “No idea.” didn’t seem appropriate answers.

I also had the fear that I would be turned away the instant I opened my mouth. This trip, I was going to use my Irish passport for the first time. One look at the passport, one listen to my New York accent, and I would be exposed for the fraud I felt I was. How dare I claim Irish citizenship when I have never set foot in the country.

Well, I have a great-grandparent who was an Irish citizen. When I was 5 years old, a law was going into effect that would no longer allow people to claim Irish citizenship that far back the generational lines. So, on the day before the law went into effect, my father filed for my citizenship. Sixteen years later, I stood on the customs line, Irish passport in hand.

It was my turn at the customs counter. I silently handed the woman my passport. She typed something in her computer, swiped my passport through her reader, and handed it back to me.

“Have a nice day, sir.”

Colin Gregory Palmer
London Journal

© 2003 CGP

Image: © 2003 FLEE.COM.