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Lá 'le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig-17th March 2011 St Patricks Day
When I was growing up Saint Patrick was always somewhere to be seen or heard. Pictures of Saint Patrick hung in every Catholic House and his name was a regular feature of conversation, St Patricks School, St Patricks well, Saint Patricks Chair, Saint Patricks Church, Saint Patricks Monastery, Saint Patricks Day and so on. All I can say is that Saint Patrick was a very busy man while in Ireland.
Round Towers are built on the site of one of the many monasteries that Saint Patrick established while in Ireland. To be honest in recent years much that surrounds Saint Patrick has been commercialised, Saint Patrick's Day has become renowned the world over as a Day of Drinking and celebration, which is great, but I honestly like to focus on all the great works that Saint Patrick done when he was in Ireland. I love visiting the many sites where Saint Patrick established his churches and monasteries, most now lay in ruins but there is something spiritual about these sites, something mystical.
In the summer time each year people from all over the world travel to Ireland to climb one of Ireland's highest Mountains in Westport, County Mayo. At the top of this mountain there is a small church that was built on the spot where Saint Patrick spent some days praying and reflecting on his ministry. Thousands of people come to this mountain each year to pray and pay their respects to the man who brought Christianity to Ireland.
Saint Patrick is known the world over, and on the 17th of March 2010 the world will celebrate his special day. Also on Saint Patrick's Day political leaders from Ireland will attend the White House and present President Obama with a bowl of shamrock. This is a tradition that spans many decades, and setting aside politics for a moment, it is an important symbol of the relationship between Ireland and the USA. This relationship is covered more deeply in my Hub "Ireland's Love Affair With America", however, it is enough to say here that Ireland is an adopted American State.
Ireland's relationship with America is unique, our forefathers went to America to seek a better life, our brothers and sisters today continue to go to America to seek a better life. President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was murdered in 1963, was and remains one of our greatest gifts to the American people. JF Kennedy showed the Irish people that it was possible for Irish people to reach their full potential in the USA. I know his political outlook did not suit everyone, but this is about the symbol not the politics.
Many Mothers and Fathers cried as their sons and daughters boarded the boat for America, but they knew in their hearts that America offered opportunities that Ireland as a small Island nation could not. Throughout American society the Irish can be found, they did not all make it good, but those that did never forgot their people back home. Each year gifts of clothes and money would be sent back to family and friends, American brand names were often first seen in Ireland when they arrived in the post.
During the recent economic success in Ireland (1997-2006) the American imprint is not hard to find. American companies invested heavily in Ireland, at one point during the peak of the economic boom, one in every ten people employed in industry in Ireland were employed by American companies. We are now in economic recession, however, that’s how capitalism works, ups and downs, swings and roundabouts. It is again to America that Ireland looks for investment and innovation. It should be said at this point that while we love America, we do not always agree with its foreign policy, we recently banned American planes from bringing prisoners or arms through our Shannon Airport, once we were told that was happening.
Lá 'le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig
Many small businesses in Ireland depend on the trade generated by American tourism in Ireland, last year we seen a decline in visitors due to the weak dollar compared to the Euro, but hopefully that will change this year. The American Embassy in Dublin, Ireland, is a focal point for the Irish American axis, following 9/11 tens of thousands of Irish people queued up to sign a book of condolences for the victims of that cowardly attack.
The Irish people love America and for all the right reasons. The Irish people love the idea of the American dream, we know that that dream has been shattered for many in recent times, but tomorrow is another day. Saint Patrick offers the Irish and Irish Americans the opportunity to celebrate all that is good about the Irish people. The world will join in that celebration, I will take fresh shamrock from my garden and wear it proudly on the 17th of March, I will attend the local town parade and I will enjoy the company of those who love Ireland and our relationship with America.
JF Kennedy 50 years after his brutal murder continues to hang on the walls of many Catholic homes here in Ireland, this shows the depth of feeling that the Irish people have for our American cousins. Ireland is the adopted State of the USA and we wish everyone the world over a very happy Saint Patrick's Day.
Lá 'le Pádraig or Lá Fhéile Pádraig