I live in Greece, and when the Greeks started charging huge fees at the airport to non-Europeans who overstayed their
3-month visas—hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars—I began resorting to, how shall I say, extreme methods to get out of and back into the country to see the woman I was living with. Cherchez la femme. At one point I threw my passport in the wash to get a new one without date of last entry so I could bluff my way past. The Canadian embassy in Greece didn't like that.
(Two months later we were broken into by druggies who stole my new passport. Guess how much the embassy liked that.)
Enough. I went to the Irish embassy and applied for citizenship, which meant European citizenship, and indefinite happiness.
A grandfather from Belfast, such as my own, will get you either British or Irish citizenship, since both governments claim the north, but the Brits require five years' residency. Not so the Irish. These latter do however demand certificates of Gramps's birth, marriage and death—in the original, if you please, not photostats.
Turns out there were three William Parkers born in Belfast in the
1880's, and no real way to tell which was mine—which made it ify with the Irish embassy people here—as did the Anglo-Norman name. Scarcely Irish. Indeed, Grandpa Bill was adamantly the other thing, very Orange, considered himself an Englishman. (I have both sides in me, and they hate each other.)
The marriage and death certificates were got from Toronto by a friend at the Canadian embassy (who also escorted me to emigration during the passport scam), and even with his bureaucratic expertise, not to mention yank, twarn't easy. My grandparents were married in an Anglican church in deep-downtown Toronto pre-WWI, which church has changed denominations seven times since then, including some non-record-keepers. But it was done.
Humbly presenting my documents I pointed out that Grandma Parker had been a Welshwoman, and that my father was all Scot: I'm three parts Gael!
Hmm, they said. Well, we’ll send the paperwork to Dublin. You should know in a year. And what do you do for a living? I’m a writer, I said. There was a barely detectable tone change. What kind of things to you write? Novels, I said; poems; stories. Could we see one or two of your books?
That was Thursday. On Monday I was Irish.