I am Irish, I guess, because I don’t know what else to be. I am half German, but being German never came easy to me.

We are a melancholy lot; I am. That is why we sing and laugh so much, because we are so very insecure in our melancholia that we feign happiness. Then our options aren’t closed out until we are absolutely sure.

We follow obituaries and hospital reports, faithfully eager to be the first bearer of sad news, that we can gather more into our inner-celebration of human deterioration and our wellbeing by comparison. And when mankind won’t accommodate us, we write pages of songs and poems on the death of a snowflake. … ‘The melted tear running down the windowpane of life.”

But love is the basis of real Irish tragedy. It suits their sentimental souls to be tortured by affairs of the heart that are frustrated or unrequited. The Irish love to love, but they are really in clover when they are losing at it. And through generations of training and traditions, they have developed their own unique standards of chivalry and stupidity, which keeps them happily unhappy.

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They are so frustrated and frustrating that they seldom marry each other. In point of fact, they have been leaving the old sod for generations, seeking a more sane approach to gratification and procreation.

However, all in all, they can be an interesting people, and I even know one I like.

Bill Hogan, born and raised in Wheeling, W.Va., is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and worked in the worlds of finance, real estate and alcoholism rehabilitation. Bill has six children and three grandchildren. He and his second wife, Susan Hogan, served in the U.S. Peace Corps from 1987-90 in Benin, West Africa. Now retired, he is a trustee of the Schenk Foundation, an artist, a writer and self-proclaimed “highly skilled dispenser of bull.”