Lakes of Pontchartrain

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
My Father's Side of the Family in Ireland
My Father's Side of the Family in Ireland

For as long as I can remember, music has been a staple of family gatherings. Whether I travel to Dublin, Ireland, or my relatives visit New York City, we are sure to have a talent show with acts ranging from belly dancing to stand-up comedy. My cousin Barry’s musical performance of “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” is what I look forward to the most. The lyrics tell the story of an Irish immigrant who settles by Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, Louisiana. There are aspects of hardship reflected in the narrative including financial burdens and feeling like an outsider. However, the warm feeling engendered by this song is a result of the acts of kindness which are performed by a Creole girl with whom he falls in love. I am reminded of my father’s immigration from Ireland to New York City in the 1980s. Upon arriving, he shared a small apartment with thirteen other Irish immigrants. He has worked two jobs since. My father now knows enough people that he can help other immigrants get work. My parents, like the Creole girl, taught me to welcome everyone in our modest two-bedroom apartment. Like the man described in the song, my dad fell in love, in his case with my mom, who is a native of Queens, New York. The song is representative of the immigrant story and will continue to serve as a connection between my American and Irish heritages.

Place(s): Dublin, Ireland New York, NY
Year: 1980

– Maya Tierney

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant