Tag Archives: Antrim

Irishman Shane Lowry wins Open at Royal Portrush

Republic of Ireland golfer Shane Lowry has won the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. It is the first time since 1951 the Open has been held on the island of Ireland. The earlier tournament also was played at Portrush, on the County Antrim coast, and won by Englishman Max Faulkner.

Irishmen Fred Daly of Portrush; Padraig Harrington of Dublin; Darren Clarke of Dungannon, NI; and Rory McIlroy of Holywood, NI; have also won the Open, but at courses in England or Scotland.  The tournament was first played in 1860.

“Forget the demarcation between the North and South of this island: the Irish stand as one when it comes to golf,” Alistair Tait of Golfweek reported. “As far as Irish golf fans are concerned, Royal Portrush is an Irish golf course.”

The course at Royal Portrush opened in 1888, 33 years before the political partition. During the Troubles, the IRA bombed six buildings in Portrush town in August 1976, with no fatalities; but shot and killed two Royal Ulster Constabulary officers in April 1987 … nine days after Lowry was born in Mullingar, County Westmeath, in the Republic.

Now 32, Lowry lives in Clara, County Offaly, also in the Republic. It remains to be seen what impact, if any, his victory might add to ongoing discussions of reuniting the island of Ireland, which are mainly driven by the likelihood of a chaotic Brexit. I’ll update this post with any related commentary.

My wife and I look forward to visiting Portrush later this month.

Irishman Shane Lowry as he nears his 2019 Open victory. Image from theopen.com.

Irish labor built Pennsylvania’s famous Horseshoe Curve

ALTOONA~As the Great Famine began to ease in the early 1850s, about 450 Irishmen began working on an extraordinary engineering project in south-central Pennsylvania. Their accomplishment remains in place today as a vital segment of the American economy.

Working with only picks, shovels and some explosives–but no machinery–the men shaved the face of adjoining mountains to fill in two ravines and lay the grade for a railroad line. They built the Horseshoe Curve for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

A display at this National Historical Landmark, about 10 miles west of Altoona, offers only a few details about the men. They are said to have been recruited for the job because they were “former mine workers,” mostly from counties Cork, Mayo and Antrim. Keep in mind this project was completed 20 years before the Molly Maguire unrest began in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region, some 200 miles to the northeast.

The 2,375-foot curve, which opened to freight and passenger traffic in February 1854, reduced the trip between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia from 20 days by wagon to about 15 hours by train. It remains part of the nation’s critical east-west rail corridor.

A westbound freight train climbs the grade through a light rain in this July 2017 image. Below, trees obscure the entrance of the road tunnel.

 

Brexit creates British rush on Irish passports

How’s this for a post-Brexit eye roll:

IrishPassport.jpg (187×240)Northern Ireland politician Ian Paisley Jr., son of the late unionist firebrand Dr. Ian Paisley, is advising his constituents to apply for a passport from the Republic of Ireland following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

“My advice is if you are entitled to second passport then take one,” Paisley tweeted the day after the referendum vote. “I sign off lots of applications for constituents.”

Paisley, a British MP from North Antrim, opposed the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, though his father became first minister of the power-sharing government it created. Now, Junior–who campaigned for Brexit–opposes calls by Irish republicans to politically reunite the island of Ireland and remain in the EU.

An Irish passport confers the holder with travel and work privileges within the 27-nation EU, which the UK has now voted to leave. People born in any of Ireland’s 32 counties, north or south, or those with a parent or grandparent born on the island, are eligible to apply for a passport from the Republic.

“An unnecessary surge in applications for Irish passports will place significant pressure on the system and on turnaround times and is likely to impact those with a genuine need for passports to facilitate imminent travel plans,” Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said in statement. The ministry issued an updated FAQ on Irish citizenship, passports and residency requirements.

The post-Brexit rush on Irish passports follows a 14 percent increase in applications by U.S. citizens since last summer, which some news accounts have attributed to Donald Trump’s hold on the GOP presidential nomination.

Glad I claimed my Irish citizenship and passport 19 years ago.