Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s my annual holiday round up of news and features about the Irish and Irish America.
Annual Washington Festivities
Barack and Enda … Enda and Donald … Donald and Leo. The mid-March Washington meeting of U.S. president and Irish taoiseach has changed each of the last three years. Given the political uncertainties for both leaders, we could see another pairing in 2019. What’s more important is that Ireland, including the north, continues to receive this annual day of unmatched attention.
Coverage of this year’s early meeting:
- Trump touts Irish ties, but jokes about country’s taxes, The Washington Post
- Trump signals support for deal on undocumented Irish in U.S., The Irish Times
- Trump and Leo become ‘fast friends’ yesterday (just don’t mention Doonbeg), TheJournal.ie
St. Patrick’s Parades
- In the digital age, it’s possible to watch the Dublin parade from anywhere in the world via Ireland’s RTÉ Player.
- In New York City, marchers will carry a banner demanding “England Get Out of Ireland” for the 70th year, the New York Times reports.
St. Patrick’s Churches
For several years I’ve made an extra effort to visit St. Patrick’s churches in my travels. See my full list. Here are a few favorites:
- Belfast, Northern Ireland: Given the city’s long history of sectarian strife, the opportunity to practice my Catholic faith felt infused with extra meaning and significance.
- Rome, Italy: The church’s foundation stone was laid 130 years ago as Irish tenant farmers battled absentee landlords. The Vatican’s response to the trouble wasn’t welcomed back home.
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Typical of the Eastern U.S., the parish and earlier iterations of the church date to the early 19th century, when Irish immigrants helped to build a vast system of canals, railroads, and turnpikes. A new building and vibrant Irish-American community were established by the early 20th century.
Fading of the Green
“The ranks of Americans who trace their ancestry back to Ireland – long one of the most prominent subgroups in American society – are slowly declining,” Pew Research reported a year ago, citing U.S. Census Bureau figure in an update of its original 2015 post.
The trend continues. The latest available data in the 2016 American FactFinder shows 32.3 million American identify as having Irish heritage, down from nearly 36 million in 2006. This map used to be much greener:
The American Conservative offered a review of Breandan Mac Suibhne’s book, The End of Outrage, which “studies the Irish habit of ambivalently accepting the present while willfully forgetting the past.”
Under the headline “Slow Fade of Pennsylvania Irish,” the review by Charles F. McElwee III continues:
The dispersing of Irish Catholic hamlets to suburbia, accompanied by the closure or demographic change of parishes, has further erased remnants of this once identifiable cultural tribe. … Millennials will likely be the last generation to fully comprehend … [Irish Catholic] tribal qualities. The Irish Catholic experience peaked during the Second Vatican Council, but has slowly faded with the death of older relatives, the changed cultural makeup of urban neighborhoods, the dissolution of cash-strapped and scandal-ridden parishes, and an overall indifference towards tradition in this modern era.
Euros and Greenbacks
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ireland released “U.S.-Ireland Business 2018: A Two-Way Relationship.” The 92-page report tells the story of how over 700 established and new U.S. companies continue to invest in Ireland; and how up to 400 Irish firms now have operations in the U.S., while 300 more export to America. U.S. firms employ more than 155,000 people in Ireland; Irish affiliated entities have more than 100,000 workers on their payrolls in all 50 states.
Fields of Green
- There’s been a small uproar (tempest in a pint?) since January, when ESPN’s Max Kellerman suggested Notre Dame University should ditch its “Fighting Irish” mascot as a “pernicious, negative stereotype of marginalized people.” Writing in the The Federalist, Matthew Boomer responded: “As an Irish-American and Notre Dame alumnus I am happy to explain why calling for the leprechaun’s head, far from being a blow for justice, is an utterly futile and self-serving exercise in which one attempts to establish progressive bona fides by tearing down an actual symbol of progress.”
- With baseball season just a few weeks away, former news researcher Bill Lucey bats home a nice post about “Baseball and its Irish Roots” on his DailyNewsGems blog.