Telling the world

They say that travel broadens the mind.

I am here in Philly to take part at a Q&A and to do a book signing in the fado Irish bar and I am looking forward to that hugely.

This piece is being written in the very same place and there is a great warm friendly vibe from the staff and patrons alike.

Given the isolating nature of being an online writer these occasions are hugely important for writer and reader alike.

However I have a more important engagement tomorrow and that will be to speak at a ceremony of remembrance at the Irish memorial in Philadelphia.

Unlike the city of my birth Philly remembers An Gorta Mor respectfully and appropriately in the public space.

Glasgow remains unique in being the only major reception centre of Famine refugees that does not commemorate those world changing events.

There is much work to be done on this issue back in Glasgow.

However, this is an opportunity to tell the global Gaeltacht the state of affairs in the Scotland of many cultures.

With occupational parity only achieved for the Glasgow Irish in 2001 (a century after the Irish in New York) the old discriminatory attitudes remain in place.

The Irish Diaspora is honoured across the world for their amazing fortitude in what they endured and how they won through. Everywhere we made landfall in the 19th century escaping from genocidal conditions imposed by a brutal aristocracy at home we have worked, served, led and enriched.

The Irish who landed in Philly were allowed to be proud Americans and to also retain their Irish heritage.

I hope that my sojourn in Philadelphia brings some attention to the cultural realities of modern Scotland.

The people who are taking very good care of me have several media opportunities lined up and I am happily at their disposal.

Hopefully I can broaden some outlooks when I am here.

I am sure I will as Philly people are open-minded and they understand the vital importance of tolerance and respect for the heritage of your neighbour.

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