One hundred seventy years after “Black ’47,” the worst year of Ireland’s Great Famine, the 26-county Republic is now considered the world’s most “food secure” nation, according to a new report.
The sixth annual Global Food Security Index is based on food affordability, availability, quality and safety. Other factors include access to financing for farmers and prevalence of undernourishment. The report was designed and constructed by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
See the details for Ireland‘s first place finish score of 85.6. The United Kingdom, including the six counties of Northern Ireland, ranked third at 84.2, behind the United States at 84.6.
While The Irish Times has not yet reported the Economist’s finding, the venerable daily could not resist the appetizing news that eight Irish restaurants have received the Michelin Guide “Bib” award for “good quality at good value.” Four of the trendy eateries are in Dublin city, while the other four are in counties Kildare, Clare, Galway and Down.
It’s long, long way from the 19th century potato blight.
St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, with chapel to the right.
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has decided to remove three seminarians from his dioceses at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, due to “an atmosphere of strange goings-on” at the national seminary. Martin is transferring the trainee priests to the Irish Pontifical College in Rome, according to The Irish Times.
In May, The Irish Catholic reported on “allegations of a gay culture in the seminary were made in an anonymous letter to the Irish bishops.” Martin would not comment for the 1 August Times‘ story on whether those allegations weighed on his decision.
In this June analysis, former Irish Catholic editor David Quinn said the seminary is in need of significant reform:
“…[I]f Maynooth was a place of dynamic orthodoxy (absolutely not to be confused with rigidity and fundamentalism), it would be attracting considerably more vocations. If the seminary sounded a certain trumpet, not an uncertain one, it would be attracting more vocations, and if these constant worrying stories about Maynooth dried up, not because they were suppressed, but because the seeming problems were dealt with, then it would attract more vocations.
I spent some time walking around the County Kildare campus during my recent visit to Ireland. Students were gone for the summer, and most of the buildings were locked, including the beautiful late 19th century chapel that I had intended to visit.
Bust of St. Patrick inside one of the college’s academic buildings.
The 2016 class of seminarians (and this blogger reflected in the image.)
Irish Central posted a story about efforts to erect a life-size bronze statue of Irish rebel John Devoy in his hometown of Naas, County Kildare. Plans call for raising $45,000 for the commission and installation, which is targeted for September 2015, six month before the Easter Rising centennial.
Here’s a quick glimpse at Devoy’s fascinating life, from his 1871 exile to America as a convicted Fenian to organizing the rescue of other Irish rebels imprisoned in Australia. He influenced Irish politics through the Land War period, the Rising and War of Independence. I highly recommend Terry Golway’s excellent biography, “Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America’s Fight for Irish Freedom.”
Here’s a link to the John Devoy Memorial Fund to contribute.
I’ve written earlier of Tim McDonnell’s efforts to start a food collection to help feed the hungry in Tampa through the Salvation Army in the spirit of St. Patrick. It’s been quite an accomplishment for the former executive director of Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center since he arrived in Tampa about two years ago.
Tim just got back from his third trip to Ireland/Northern Ireland at the beginning of October. (His mom is from Brownstown, Co Kildare; his paternal grandparents from Westport, Co. Mayo and Bruree, Co. Limerick.) Below is Part 1 of Tim’s guest post:
The Spirit of St. Patrick
Absolutely worth visiting is the St. Patrick’s Trail and all of the St. Patrick sites on the northern half of the island (where St. Patrick spent his time). The top 3 ‘must do’ sites, though, are: 1) the St. Patrick Centre exhibition and his grave in Downpatrick (he is buried alongside St. Brigid, St. Columcille, and Arthur Guinness’ grandfather – truly ‘holy ground’! – next to Down Cathedral); 2) St. Patrick’s first church at Saul – one of the more spiritually engaging sites on earth, comparable to the experience we had at St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sisteen Chapel in Vatican City (as my friend Tim Campbell says “Saul is very ‘thin’…..the distance between heaven and earth there is very slight”); 3) Croagh Patrick – we lucked out with clear skies and were able to climb Ireland’s holy mountain, where St. Patrick fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and by legend ‘drove the snakes out of Ireland.’ It will take a bit of faith and endurance to get all the way up, particularly at the top with the loose rocks and vertical climb – but it is the most spiritually rewarding thing that I have ever done, and it also blesses all climbers with the best views on the island.
The view from the summit.
Also worth visiting is Ulster Scots country up in the northeast. People of this heritage informed us that they believe that Northern Ireland is a Scottish province on the island of Ireland and that calling the Ulster Scots Irish is like calling Canadians Americans. They also told us that the inhabitants of Ireland were referred to by the Romans as the “Scoti” in the 4th and 5th centuries and were known to be part of the Gaelic kingdom of Dal Riata, which spanned the west coast of Scotland and the eastern part of Ulster in what is today’s Northern Ireland. They characterized the creation of the Ulster Plantation of the 17th century, which helped lay the foundation for a few hundred years of conflict, as ‘just the Scots returning home.’ Interesting stuff and worth a bit of homework. Although the history, cultural dynamics, and politics are a bit complicated, the north is breathtakingly beautiful, and the people are as welcoming as anywhere else on the island.
Check back within the week for Tim’s thoughts on food in Ireland and a story of the country’s most famous jockey. MH