I watched two programmes tonight that made me think about the state of this country. The first was an episode of Nationwide that featured young Irish people who are doing very well in London. One of them is Conor Clinch, from Coolock, a 20-year-old photographer who plans to open his own studio. He shows no signs of wanting to return to Ireland. Who could blame him?
I thought of Aer Lingus’ recent marketing campaign in which it brought some family members back to Ireland, squeezing the maximum emotional capital from the tearful reunions while informing us mournfully that over 50% of Irish people wouldn’t make it ‘home’ for Christmas. How many of those people didn’t come ‘home’ because home is now somewhere else—somewhere where they have happily integrated, perhaps married a local person? The sentimental notion of ‘Wild Geese’, tied up with historical victimhood, is no longer appropriate. Continue reading →
In keeping with the idea of ‘New Year, fresh start’, I decided to change the appearance of this blog by giving it a different ‘theme’ from the one it’s had since I created it in May 2010 (this is easy with WordPress blogs). I think it looks fresher and cleaner now. I have retained the photo at the top – one that Sean took, of the Nine-Eyed Bridge near Virginia, Co. Cavan.
Pauline and I want to make 2014 a year of change for the better, after several years of consolidation and ‘staying strong’ following the devastation of Sean’s death in October 2010. Change is unavoidable and renewal is desirable. We want to develop ourselves and fulfil our potential. Susanna has made massive progress in her life; Pauline and I, though at a different stage, need to forge ahead now too. On some levels, of course, we will never ‘move on’ – we will always love and miss Sean.
A headline in today’s Irish Times reads ‘Tears at Dublin Airport as emigrants depart after holidays’. Pauline and I sometimes reflect that we would love it if Sean was in Australia, say (he was considering going there not long before he died). Airport tears are understandable, but the families of emigrants are, relatively speaking, quite fortunate. Emigration may be seen as a form of ‘bereavement’, but – these days especially – it’s a very mild form.
As part of my resolution to make changes for the better, I’ve been seeking new work clients today. Pauline has been developing an idea of hers. I intend to be more creative in 2014 – to write songs, poetry, non-fiction; to start and perhaps finish a novel.
As Jools Holland and guests sang on his Hootenanny show the other night [clip is from the previous year] – ‘Enjoy yourself … it’s later than you think’. May we all have a happy and productive 2014.
In early 2006, my local community was planning to celebrate the sesquicentenary (150th anniversary) of primary education in the parish. A weekend of events was scheduled, including a visit from the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese; a book was to be published to mark the occasion. I was asked to help with the book’s production, and readily agreed.
At an early committee meeting, someone gave me a cutting from a local paper to the effect that an American writer, JM, had published a novel based on the lives of his nineteenth-century ancestors, who came from our area. I emailed him to ask if he might like to contribute a chapter to our book; he responded promptly and had sent the chapter within a few days … it told the story of how he traced his Irish forebears and researched their lives for his novel. Continue reading →