Land of opportunity

Only time will tell if the deep lessons available to the Celtic hierarchy on this brief sojourn to the USA has been learned.

The United States of America has, in the round, been very good for the Irish.

The new country benefited from our bravery on the battlefield and gained our industrial muscle.

Unhindered by oppressive British rule the Irish in American rose to the very top in every field of human Endeavour.

To write a social history of this great country without mentioning the Irish would be historically illiterate.

Of course such a crime against historical accuracy is an ongoing situation in Celtic’s hometown.

The Irish in Glasgow remain largely invisible in the narrative of the city.

That is no innocent oversight.

If Celtic are going to be successful as a football club in the modern age then they have to be guided by shrewd business principles.

That means seeking out new markets for existing products.

Last week end Peter Lawwell rubbed shoulders with utterly committed Celtic supporters in Philly who have MBAs and run companies with turnovers greater than Celtic.

If people at Kerrydale Street scratch their heads about how to “monetize” that heartfelt Irish American affection for Celtic Football club then there is an impressive cadre of stakeholders in this vast country to call upon.

There are teams across Europe who would kill to have that ethnic foothold in this massive sports market.

Many North American Celtic supporters are of Irish heritage, but others have been attracted by the unique narrative of the club.

I spoke to one Celtic employee on the way up to the pre match presser which also saw the launch of a soccer academy in Philadelphia.

I said to him that Celtic owning the Famine as the singular historical event which created the club was both historically accurate and the key to the door of Irish America.

That is a potential market of 70 million people

Personally speaking the most significant event of the whole amazing week end was the ceremony of remembrance at the Irish famine memorial.

The club was officially represented by Anthony Stokes.

State Representative Kevin Boyle gave a straight from the heart speech about Celtic and the Irish in Glasgow that you would never hear from an MSP.

Representative Boyle and I met at the pre match presser and it took us all of 30 seconds to work out that I had worked with his first cousin in Donegal.

His young Jewish chief of staff did not believe what he was hearing.

His look sort of said “Perhaps all the Irish were kinda related after all!”

I interviewed Kevin two days later and that will soon be uploaded to this site.

It was an honour to be asked to speak at the ceremony.

My message was a simple one.

I said that such an event could not, at present, take place in Glasgow and that is because there is no memorial to the famine in the city despite it being a major reception centre for that appalling humanitarian catastrophe.

I believe it will be a sign of modern Scotland’s growing maturity if, in 2017 when another anniversary of “Black Forty Seven” comes around, that  Glasgow can , finally, can remember the  victims and survivors of an Gorta Mor.

If Celtic Football Club give their support to the campaign to remember the Famine in an appropriate way in the public space of Glasgow city centre then Irish America will notice and applaud.

They have already given me space in the Celtic View to outline the need for a Famine memorial in Glasgow and for that they have my thanks.

The global gaeltacht needs a soccer team and Celtic can be that club if people in leadership positions at Parkhead fully acknowledge the centrality of the famine to the club’s origins.

Celtic has the opportunity to do the correct thing and reap the business benefits.

Last Friday in Philadelphia I believe we took a truly important step in that process.

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