Lá Fhéile Pádraig

If Ireland , in any way, means something to you then this is your day.

Across the world people with the most tenuous links to the island of Ireland celebrate that connection and everyone around them joins in and applauds.

Everywhere except Scotland.

Last year I spoke at the Changein Scotland conference on growing up Second Generation Irish in 20th century Scotland.

I said that if you told my story, but replaced “Irish” with “Italian” and “Ireland” with” Italy” then there would be a hugely different narrative within modern Scotland.

There were no dissenting voices when I proffered this opinion.

Subsequently any mention of religion or sectarianism was nonsensical as the Italians, even the ones in Scotland, are rather catholic.

Scotland has abnormalised itself when it comes to the presence of the Irish community in their midst.

Even the activities of republican paramilitaries in the Northern war cannot explain this hostility.

The Provisional IRA and the INLA attacked English cities over several decades, yet English towns have extensive St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Apart from anything else this is a testament to the basic decency of English people.

The city of my birth remains unique in being the only major reception centre for Famine refugees which does not have memorial to an Gorta mor.

http://www.philmacgiollabhain.com/pdf/cv02_06.pdf

Some point to the Carfin memorial which is tucked away, but there is an element of ghettoization in the location.

Every other city that took in Famine survivors has a major memorial in their main public space.

Glasgow still has a way to travel in finally saying unequivocally that the Irish are part of the fabric of Scotland’s greatest city.

However I am reliably informed that the craic will be ninety today in the Merchant City!

Patrick’s day is for everyone who cherishes their Irishness.

Ireland is my home, it gives me my sense of who I am, and it provides me with my citizenship and a passport that elicits smiles in foreign airports rather than hostility.

We’ve never invaded anyone.

For sure we’ve been moved around a fair bit, but in the main it wasn’t our idea.

Once more we are exporting our young people  and this because of the hubris of our own leaders.

Yet for all its failings Ireland has always been my island.

It always will be.

If that sounds like you too then have a great day.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

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