When I was born, my parents named me Elizabeth. My great-grandfather was an Irish day laborer in St. Paul, and my great-grandmother was his sweetheart from Wicklow. She worked as a maid in a large Dublin house until the violence unleashed by the British armed forces after Easter 1916 caused her to flee. I sometimes wonder how Siobhan and Ciaran would react if they knew their great-granddaughter was given the name of a peerless imperialist; a tyrant who oversaw the plunder and repression of the Gaelic polity; a colonizer of Irish soil, whose land was cultivated by the labor of indigenous pagans; the unsexed queen of plantations confiscated from the victims of her martial law and brutal, English power.
Recently, I have set my mind to reclaiming the culture and language stolen from my ancestors. It was not just Elizabeth I with her imposition of Anglican law that ransacked my birthright, but the Christian missionaries who erased the original Druid faith and sullied its memory with gross depictions of magic tricks squashed by the phallic interventions of a English-appearing, whitewashing God on behalf of white, male saints. Everything, from the practices of surnames to the oppressive nostalgia for the British imperial “golden” age, have convinced me that all of my hxstory, all of my being now, is a direct result of the cishetpatriarchal system, which has, like a tick embedded in the brain of humanity, leeched and degraded the essential dignity of human life through the imposition of harsh, socially enforced categories that compel the continued systematization of deconstructed, dehumanized ideologies, no better enshrined than in late-stage capitalism.
Biróg, the name of a familiar in Irish folklore, represents a new thread to a past that was violently pillaged by the colonial impulses on hxstory. It is the name I chose for myself, the name that self-actualizes my identity, my culture, and my unique ancestry.
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