This is the 100th post of my Irish-American Blog, which also reaches its first anniversary this month. Thanks for the support.
For the occasion, here’s a link to Niall O’Dowd’s recent post on Irish Central, which celebrates the success of the Gathering 2013, a year-long tourism initiative encouraging people of Irish ancestry to return to the motherland. O’Dowd writes:
The weather has been cooperating with the warmest summer in some time which has really helped….There is always a match or a festival or some event to go to, and the people themselves seem energized by the foreigners who flock to their shore….It is as if Ireland has cast aside its penitent robes after the shock of the bad times and found a new suit that fits the upbeat mood perfectly….Sure there will be problems ahead, and winter’s dark days will draw in again, but the summer of 2013 will rightly be remembered as when The Gathering called countless Irish home.
Second quarter tourism numbers should be forthcoming from Fáilte Ireland later this month. Travel to Ireland was up 7.4 percent during the first quarter of 2013 compared to the previous year.
I’ve been remiss in blogging about three big stories out of Ireland and the north of Ireland. So let’s get caught up.
- Abortion: The October death of a 31-year-old Indian woman refused an abortion in a Dublin hospital after being told she would miscarry, and the opening of an abortion clinic in Belfast has put the contentious issue in the headlines. Activists on both sides have rallied to voice their views. Abortion is subject to different laws in each place because of the island’s political partition.
- Finucane: A new report about the 1989 murder of IRA attorney Pat Finucane has revealed “a shocking level of state collusion” by the British government and prompted an apology by Prime Minister David Cameron. Finucane’s widow calls the report “a sham” and “a whitewash,” while Irish Central founder and columnist Naill O’Dowd alleges former PM Margaret Thatcher ordered the killing.
- Flags: Unionists/loyalists in Northern Ireland have erupted in numerous violent protests over reducing the number of days the Union Jack flies at Belfast City Hall.
- Finally, Dan Rooney has stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Ireland after three years. Rooney is also chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve never met him in person, but I’ve long admired him as a native of Pittsburgh. Like his late father, team founder Art Rooney, the son is a regular Mass-goer. I shared the sign of peace with him at St. Mary of Mercy Catholic Church in December 2008, shortly before his appointment by President Obama. For all he has done for Pittsburgh and for Ireland, “Thanks Dan.”