Today in 1872, Arthur Griffith was born in Dublin. He was passionate about Irish history, which drove him to become a member of the Gaelic League where he rubbed shoulders with other Irish activists and cultural leaders. He was a bit of an anomaly. His devotion to the Gaelic League led to Griffith joining the Irish Republican Brotherhood where he was surrounded by many ideological opposites. He was inspired by Charles Parnell and wrote for many radical papers while he was growing up, but he was also ultra-conservative and widely reported to be an anti-Semite. While his IRB friends were planning a complete revolution, he was more in favor of a dual monarchy system, a sort of co-partnership with England. He was against any form of communism or socialism and was largely anti-union, but was in a room talking policies with James Connolly—the driving force behind Irish socialism at the time—on many occasions. Continue reading →
Next week I will begin writing from the other side of the United States – I’m only going to New York for a couple of weeks but I am excited to experience it on a different level than I ever have before. Do any of my readers and fellow writers live in the Big Apple? If so, I am looking for suggestions of what to do and where to go while I visit, since I’m going to be there for a decent amount of time. It is to be my final trip before the centenary in Ireland next year, so I want to make the most of it.
Please comment if there’s something or somewhere that is not to be missed, or if you know about an amazing coffee place, because I am spoiled rotten living here in the bay area. I’ve seen Ellis Island and most of the touristy things already, and am visiting the Mckittrick Hotel again as well. I’ll be there over Easter and am hoping to find a commemoration, since I will miss the one here in the bay and some good traditional music too. I’m looking for all manner of things – Irish or not – though by now it’s probably apparent that the topic is a passionate one for me. That said, where do you like to go when you visit or live in New York?
“A rebel is one who opposes lawfully constituted authority and that I have never done.” So said one of the most devoted Republican women in Irish history, Mary MacSwiney. I’m sure she believed in that statement with all of her heart—as she did a free Ireland—but it’s guaranteed the English did not feel the same way. To them, Mary MacSwiney was the one of the worst and biggest female rebels, not only in Cork but in all of Ireland.
On this day, March 26th, in 2007, a historic meeting was made in the North of Ireland. Ian Paisley, an avid Protestant firebrand known for his “Never” phrases sat down with the other side of his coin, Gerry Adams, who led (and leads) Sinn Féin. The two men hammered out an agreement at Stormont that promised to form a power-sharing partnership by May 8th of that year. For the first time, the ideological opposites were able to come together and reach an agreement that was mostly fair for most of their constituents . Both Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Former British prime minister Tony Blair hail this first meeting and agreement as “a reconciliatory and transforming moment in British-Irish history.”
So if you’re wondering why I’ve been a little quieter over the last week or so, it is due to the wonders of technology!! I have enrolled in an Irish history class given by Trinity College in Dublin…and it’s both free and online. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather attend in person – but I can’t seem to find anyone who wants to give me a free place to stay and a free education in Ireland yet (imagine that!) so this will have to do.
We are only in the second week of the course and you can still join in, if you feel like making up a week or two. I added the class late and have been playing catch up as well. It’s not really credited anywhere, but you can get a souvenir certificate at the end of the course and did I mention that it’s FREE?!? Even if you don’t learn much that you didn’t already know, it’s worth the non-existent pennies or euros.
Join me in my education adventures and give this a shot. (Also, if you are a bazillionaire and are feeling like a generous benefactor, you can always send me to Ireland for a real degree. You never know unless you ask, right? Are you listening universe?)
St. Patrick’s Day. Every year people celebrate this day by punishing their livers and making poor wardrobe choices, with stereotypical and sometimes truly awful T-Shirts. The fake accents yelling out over loud music get worse and worse as the pints keep coming and if you’re lucky, you may get a little Irish parade or traditional music in there somewhere too. It is not the solemn celebration one would associate with a Saint, but rather one that is decidedly sacrilegious in the eyes of the church. And you know what? I absolutely support it, (with the exception of the racist and stereotypical garb and the fake accents,) because anything that removes the original intent of this holiday is just fine by me. After all, this is not a celebration that has anything at all to do with snakes, but rather it is one that celebrates the defeat of free thinkers and ancient traditions. St. Patrick (who was NOT Irish, by the way) has the dubious claim to fame of driving all the snakes out of Ireland…but science has confirmed that there were no snakes at the time. Of course, Christianity uses the metaphor of snakes to talk about evil temptations and the devil himself….and following that metaphor, Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland means he drove out what he considered to be the wickedness – he conquered Pagan Ireland.
The New Yorker has just published a surprisingly in-depth article on Jean McConville and Irish history in the North – just in time to take advantage of the 15 minutes that most Americans devote annually to Ireland around St. Patrick’s Day. It’s brilliant timing and the article is very well done, even if it does rehash a lot of old information and it is certainly another strike at Gerry Adams and his past. It is clear yet again that this case will continue to haunt those who may be involved in it. No matter what side of the spectrum politically that you may fall on, this case was undeniably brutal. A single mother of ten, Jean McConville, was dragged out of her home at Divis Flats in front of her children, and wasn’t seen again until her body was discovered decades later. She is one of the “Disappeared” – people who were murdered by the Irish Republican Army whose bodies were never supposed to be discovered. Her story is the albatross around Gerry Adams’ neck and one that will never disappear again. Continue reading →
So you want to move to America? Whatever for?! Unless you are in a “third world” country, chances are your health care is better, your education is better, your work schedule is better, and people are probably kinder where you already are. Considering the weakness of our dollar, our union-busting corporations that are considered people, the current political climate, our abhorrent race and gender issues, and our militarized police force, I would encourage you to think again before coming to the “Land of the Free.” However, since a lot of people are still interested in moving here, I thought I’d go over some of the most common ways to accomplish it and throw my observations into the mix. We are hard on our immigrants—legal or not—and there are several things to consider. Here are some of them, wrapped up in the most frequent ways to get into good ol ‘Merica. Keep in mind, this isn’t even about the path to citizenship. These are just things I’ve witnessed while watching people try to obtain semi-permanent residence and entrance into our work force. Citizenship is even more difficult. Continue reading →
On this day in 1857 Thomas James Clarke was born to Irish parents at Hurst Castle in Hampshire, England. It’s more than a little ironic that one of the biggest strategists behind Ireland’s future revolution was born on English soil. In fact, his father was in the British Army and the family did not return to Ireland until Tom was seven years old. They settled in Dungannon, a Fenian stronghold that had suffered terribly during An Gorta Mor – Ireland’s Great Famine. The scars of that disaster were still all around him and from his earliest years, Tom hated the English establishment. He was determined to fight against it however he could.
A few months ago, I shared a love story. My dear friend Jody found the man of her dreams through the magic of technology. Unfortunately for the two of them, Kevin was half a world away in Raheny on the outskirts of Dublin and Jody was here in California. Trips between the United States and Ireland can get pretty expensive relatively quickly. At some point in the future Kevin might have moved away from Raheny but he did not want to come to America at all. That was never in the plan. However, even the best laid plans change and he did end up coming here for Jody. At first, everyone on both sides of the puddle worried a bit but there was no need. Kevin is delightful and Jody has never been happier. I was thrilled for them when they got married a few months after his arrival at San Francisco City Hall and it has been my privilege to watch them grow into an amazing couple.