Saturday, March 16, 2013

St. Patrick's Day: Time To Talk About Ireland

            Ever since late childhood,I've had an unfortunately troubled and divided attitudes towards the Irish heritage that is actually a huge part of my identity. I've always had a strong sense of embarrassment that the first thing most people think of on St. Patrick's Day is going to parades and pubs,and basically using the occasion as an excuse to drink more alcohol than they should. Cultural stereotypes aside,I really never understood why this is. When Irish immigrants first came to America,it was into a society that instantly vilified them as ignorant,poor and unclean. And were the victims of sometimes extreme prejudice as a result. Add to this the years of needless fighting during my generation between Irish Catholics and protestants and it was very difficult to be proud of that side of my heritage. Only recently have I actually began to strongly resolve this sense of internal ambivalence.

           This resolution of which I speak occurred only this week. While on YouTube one day I began viewing a series of videos about the Chernobyl Children's Foundation. This organization is devotes itself to providing aid to children on Belarus,Western Russia and the Ukraine who have had lifelong illnesses and deformities as a result of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in 1986,and whose native towns and nations lack the resources to care for them as well as they'd like to. This foundation was founded by Adi Roche-a native of Tipperary,Ireland who since 1977 has been actively campaigning on issues relating to the environment,peace and justice in her native country and around the world. At one time an employee of Aer Lingus, Adi took redundancy in order to work full time for the Irish Campaign For Nuclear Dismemberment and,in 1990 she became the first Irish woman elected to the board of directors for the International Peace Bureau in Geneva. 

       Seeing for my own eyes the level of intelligence,caring and deep benevolence with which Adi Roche has worked with her foundations,even by travelling into the  areas of Western Europe most affected by Chernobyl personally to oversee the different humanitarian efforts,it is an ideal demonstration of most positive qualities that Ireland can offer. It points to the inner strength and bravery to be socially responsible that runs historically through the Irish culture for centuries. It's a crucial part of the Irish cultural continuum that many countries,especially the United States,has not given nearly enough credence to in my personal opinion.  Anyone who,like me,had a negative opinion on this upcoming holiday would be well advised to seek out more information on Adi Roche and people like her. Which is why I am providing a video on this blog about her foundations which,as a warning to younger viewers,may require some viewer discretion  So I'd like to conclude by wishing everyone a very happy St.Patrick's Day!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Andre. We are a little nation, a small rock in the Atlantic. Interestingly our population is about the same as that of LA. Yet today (and indeed every other day) we punch above our weight in every nook and cranny of the world. We are presidents, musicians, business people, teachers and sports people and as you mention philanthropists (research a little more and you'll find myriad of Irish organisations helping globally including LA) . We are not only accepted but welcomed with a 'smile' in every part of the world (even in space as seen a few weeks ago on the space station!) In my travel experience, speak to different cultures and always with a smile they will happily tell the tale of an Irish person they met, worked with, laughed with and had a pint with. We have made mistakes like any other nation and yet we have never been to war with any other and we rarely have an agenda. We are among the most highly educated people in the world, we are poets, musicians business people and yes we have a very healthy disrespect for authority :) Why do you think that the wonders of the world from Sydney to London to New York to Atlanta, from Mumbai to Red Square will light up green today..think and be very very proud of us! Heres what we'll be doing here in Ballina, County Tipperary today - we'll watch the little parade through the village, scouts, some tractors, some free sweets, and we'll laugh out loud with family and friends (and some new ones no doubt) we'll then adjourn to the local pub, sit by the fire and drink a pint or 2 (or maybe even 3 if the 'boss' allows!). Tonight we'll watch the news to see how the world has celebrated this little rock in the ocean and once again we wont take ourselves too seriously, wont overanalyse it all and we'll again smile :) Happy Paddys Day Andre!