I have never worn my Irish ancestry on my sleeve. Besides which, I'm only half Irish. I almost invariably forget to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, and while I did my share of pub crawling, as well as crawling home from pubs, getting spit-faced in celebration of my forebears has seemed less appropriate as the years have worn on. Besides which, St. Patrick did not rid Ireland of snakes.TO BE IRISH IS TO KNOW THAT IN THE END THE WORLD WILL BREAK YOUR HEART. ~ DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN
But I am celebrating this year for a couple of reasons:
Because it's the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, the failed rebellion against the English occupation that is the foundation story of the Irish Free State. The protesters, including a cripple who could not stand on his own, were shot by a firing squad in a dramatically brutal if failed attempt to rid the Irish of their identity. In fact, it was a crime to be Irish in Ireland until well into the 20th century.
I'm also celebrating because of the Irish diaspora. There are some 70 million of my kinfolk worldwide, and The Donald notwithstanding, we need to remember in that context that it has never been more important for America to welcome others, whether Guatemalan ex-pats or Syrian refugees. Please.
Did you know that some of Barack Obama's forebears are from County Offaly? Mine are from County Mayo, and we both still have distant relatives in Ireland.
If you live within a reasonable distance of Newark, Delaware, there is a terrific new must-see exhibition -- "A Terrible Beauty Is Born: The Easter Rising At 100" -- on display in the Special Collections Gallery on the second floor of Morris Library on the University of Delaware campus.
Special Collections has one of the finest collections of Irish literature outside of Ireland and the U.K. The iconic centerpiece of the exhibition is a copy of the rare first edition of William Butler Yeats's Easter, 1916, along with political broadsides, manuscripts, letters, periodicals and graphics that show the significant role print culture had in inspiring patriotism, relaying news, spreading rumors and construction Ireland's national mythology over centuries of British colonial rule and suppression.
HEADLINE QUOTE FROM W.B. YEATS'S EASTER, 1916