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« Daily Readings - Matthew 7:12-14 | Main | Answering the door in my pajamas »
Friday
Mar172017

Hold the whiskey, and thank an Irishman

If you like reading, thank an Irishman. Although in its original form St. Patrick's Day was not really about celebrating the Irish culture, that seems to be what it has become. I'm not sure how or if they celebrate it in the Republic or in Northern Ireland, but in North America, it has morphed into drunken celebrations.

One of the things I love about Irish history (and I love a lot about it) is what happened when Rome was sacked and the barbarians took over the Roman Empire. On a little island west of Britain, intellectual life survived. That is the subject of How the Irish Saved Civilization. For anyone who likes to read and appreciates classic literature, you'll enjoy this book. I wrote about this a few years ago. 

A lot of Irish history is not very happy if you happen to be Irish. Famous men like Oliver Cromwell and Winston Churchill didn't have very charitable attitudes toward the Irish. And it is a country whose history is filled with strife. That is generally what happens in a country which has been conquered. A couple of Fridays ago, my husband and I re-watched the movie In the Name of the Father, which is the story of Gerry Conlon, who was wrongfully convicted for the Guildford Pub bombing. Conlon's aging and ailing father, who had nothing to do with the bombing, was also convicted, and languished and eventually died in prison. The movie drew my interst when it first came out because I enjoy Irish history and because Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favourite actors. Conlon, after 15 years in prison, struggled despite producing his book, Proved Innocent, on which the movie was based. That book is in the queue for my reading list. Conlon died in 2014.

One of the comments made in the movie by Conlon's lawyer, Gareth Pierce (played by Emma Thompson), when the verdict was finally overturned was that the arrest and conviction of the four young people happened not because of overwhelming evidence, but because they were "well, bloody Irish." I don't know if that comment is part of the court transcript; I'd like to know. Part of Irish history is the bigotry they experienced, at the hands of the English and later, as they emigrated to North America.

I love Irish history and the pictures show scenery that I hope some day to photograph myself. Until then, I enjoy books like How the Irish Saved Civilization. And I'm thankful for books about St. Patrick, for whom this day is really about. If you're interested in Patrick, check out Michael Haykin's great little volume.

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