The Irish have always flocked to America’s shores for one reason or another. Some have argued that the Irish built America itself, despite its inherent distrust and discriminatory attitudes toward them. And just how did the U.S. repay them for their work? Not well. America treated the Irish horribly. There were anti-Irish riots. There were “No Irish” signs. The Irish people were used and abused for years but they kept coming and eventually they became part of the fabric of the country where many thrived. It’s safe to say that without them, the United States would be a very different place.
Today there are 34.5 million people in the U.S. who claim an Irish heritage, which is nearly 30 million more than the entire population of Ireland itself. This includes the few hundred thousand Irish-born people who currently live and/or work in America legally but it doesn’t count the estimated 10,000-50,000 Irish people who are not legally supposed to be in the country. These folks usually settle in so-called “Sanctuary cities” like New York, Boston, and San Francisco where there are large, established Irish communities and city law enforcement agencies that do not contact or cooperate with immigration officials unless absolutely necessary. Itcreates an illusion of safety but the pervasive threat of discovery is serious and it’s getting more dire every day.
The Museum of Free Derry has temporarily removed its most controversial exhibit and Linda Nash and Helen Deery have brought their around-the-clock protest inside the museum to a close. All parties will meet again next week with a mediator to negotiate how to proceed when it comes to the exhibit that was created to remember the victims of the Troubles from Derry.
Last year on International Women’s Day I was in Derry, exploring the murals that were off the beaten path. I found many honoring the women of the area – including one that was painted in honor of International Women’s day itself. I find that looking through my pictures of them now is just as inspiring as it was then, and I think sharing my favorites on both sides of the puddle is especially powerful on today of all days.
Peace. It’s an elusive concept to many countries, tribes, and populations. The idea that there will ever be a time without war is a dream. It is one that everyone claims to hope for but in reality, hundreds of thousands of politicians, economists, religious leaders, generals, neighbors, soldiers, and contractors work against the concept every day. A world without war is a type of idealism that can sum up the beliefs of bleeding heart liberals, traumatized veterans, moderate conservatives, and true libertarians alike…but it has no place in this world that we live in today, outside of philosophy and imagination. As Robert Heinlein said, “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.”
Voices from the Grave is the topic of the day, or rather another result of its existence is. The bestselling book made headlines when it was published and not just because it was a gripping, page turner. It made headlines because almost as soon as it was published, it sparked off terrible controversy, a multitude of investigations, and court battles that continue to this day. In fact, now there’s a whole new chapter.
Sophie Bryant was born on this day in 1850, into a time when women did not receive much education or have too many professional options. She was lucky enough to be largely home-schooled by her father who was a math professor at the University of London, and by private governesses that he hired. She became fluent in many languages and fell in love with math and science. She was an exceptionally strong student.
Kathleen Lynn was an anomaly among women at the turn of the century in Ireland. She was extremely well educated, which was very rare for females at the time, and she was a doctor – not a nurse – which was an incredibly unusual profession for a woman of that era. She faced discrimination and difficulty in the field for many years due to her gender and it made her a strong suffragist and a very tough woman.
‘Irish Lives in War and Revolution: Exploring Ireland’s History 1912-1923‘ was the name of the online class that I just completed thanks to the partnership between Trinity College and Futurelearn. It certainly lived up to its title, but not in the way I expected. Gone were the heroic tales of Patrick Pearse, Constance Markievicz, or Michael Collins. In their places were the voices, letters, and stories of the average person, struggling to get through his or her life in Ireland during periods of protracted conflict. It featured soldiers and volunteers pretty equally and it was really well constructed. I had a fascinating six weeks and I can’t even begin to tell you how much inspiration it gave me or how many historical events have a new twist (or ten) to think about after taking the course. Thousands of people worldwide took this class online, so I guess the first thing that must be said is way to go Ireland – people like you! And the next is a huge thank you to the teachers, mentors and researchers because this class was really enjoyable and educational.
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?)
Yesterday’s post about the best schools to get your Irish Studies programs needs an update. I went straight for the online program – the only in the world – based in Galway because I’m a non-traditional student who can’t quit any of her 3 jobs for class time. The list I posted yesterday shows a partnership for that program with a U.S. school in Colorado but the links didn’t work when I tried them. I contacted the school in Ireland and while there used to be a partnership, it no longer exists, and you have to sign up for the program through Galway directly.
No problem – I’m still totally excited. Except for one thing – a whopping €12,750.00 per year international student fee….which applies since the partnership isn’t valid anymore. That is on top of the class fees and things that are needed to complete the course – which I thought was definitely update worthy, since U.S. students can’t get federal aid for those courses either. Alas.
It makes me sad, as the idea of an online program really opened some doors in my brain – but I will have to just table that again. I will continue to study as I have for the last 20+ years and be satisfied without a paper that tells other people that I’ve done so. For those of you that can take traditional classes – or afford nearly 13,000 euros, still check out that list since there are options. The Galway link was so enticing – and if you could manage that – the class looks as if it’s extensive and lovely.