Millions of Irish Around the World

Paddy was walking home one Saturday with a pig. On the way he met Sean. His friend said  “Where did you get that?” “I got it at a fair.” said the pig.

A scattered people with humour and talent

By Roger Childs

No doubt many of you of like Jim Bolger, Gabby O’Rourke, Kay Carter, Tipene O’Regan, Jack McAllister and myself, have Irish ancestry.

In the 50 years following the Irish famine in the mid 19th century, over half the population of Ireland migrated to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

They took with them their talents, culture, music, religion and good humour, and made huge contributions to the development of their new homelands.

Today is St Patrick’s Day, and in many shops, supermarkets, rest homes and work places people will be wearing silly hats, costumes and even wigs with green the dominant colour. At Raumati School on Friday many of the students dressed up in green.

The green is closely associated with Eire, and the country is well known for its green countryside. However the national flag also has a strip of orange: the colour of Protestants and Northern Ireland.

A rich culture despite a tumultuous history

Ireland has had a tragic history and the centuries are littered with battles, massacres, discrimination and bitter sectarian and nationalist conflicts. There have been English v Irish, Protestant v Catholic, the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Black and Tans v  the Irish Republican Army, Republicans v Free Staters.

The English king, Henry II, took over Ireland back in the 1100s and this set in train an antagonism that would last until the end of the 20th century.

However, through it all the Irish evolved a rich culture which was expressed in the Gaelic language, writing, poetry, drama, music and dance.

This is the country of Jonathan Swift and W B Yeats, Riverdance and Enya, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, Edna O’Brien and Colm Toibin, U2 and the Corrs, to name but a few of their many cultural stars through the ages.

Good humour

The Irish were often the butt of bad English jokes where the Irishman was seen as a simpleton or village idiot dressed in green.

However, in the modern era Irish humour is widely enjoyed and is often the sort that has people falling to the ground in gales of laughter.

There have also been some hilarious Irish films in recent years such as Waking Ned Devine.

Many of you will have seen this one, based around a small village which has the winning ticket in the Irish Lottery. The only problem is that Ned, the ticketholder, is dead!

If you haven’t viewed it, get the DVD out: enjoyment and laughter is guaranteed!

Irish rugby on a high

This is where we have a Kiwi connection, as the national team, which represent the whole of the island of Ireland, has a New Zealand coach: Joe Schmidt. (Many would like to see him coaching the All Blacks.)

In recent years they have done very well, and upset both the All Blacks and England as they were going for record test winning streaks.

This year in the Six Nations competition they have beaten France, Italy, Wales and Scotland.

However the big one is against England tonight at Twickenham.

Enjoy your heritage!

To all of you out there with or without Irish forebears:

Top o’ the afternoon to ya!!

 

 

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