Why I Love The Irish

Yesterday I celebrated St. Patricks Day in Haiti at a Brazilian restaurant with Italian, British, French, Haitian, American, and of course Irish friends.  There is something about the Irish, and St. Paddy’s Day in particular, that brings people together.

 How fun to celebrate the joys of Ireland, my ancestry, St.Patrick, and a people I love.  We celebrate the spirit of the Irish people:  they are witty, compassionate, entertaining, community oriented, resilient, earnest, encouraging, hardworking, spiritual, and of course, always ready to meet you at the local pub for a pint.

 I have been to Ireland twice now in the past year as I work for an Irish organization.  On my first visit, as I went through passport control, the officer began thumbing through my passport – he saw stamps fom places like Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Nigeria, Colombia and of course Haiti.  He looked at my quizzically and asked what I do.  “Humanitarian aid work, Sir” I replied.  “Ahhhhhhhh”  he said with a smile, “The work of the Lord does not happen in the loveliest of places.” and he sent me on my way.  It is this wit and sincerity I celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day.

 In addition to being charming,  kind and great fun, the Irish have shown us what we thought impossible – transcending horrendous cycles of violence – is indeed possible.  The thought that 20 years ago bombs, terror and bloodshed were part of the daily fabric of life in Northern Ireland and now, today,  diverse communities peacefully share power in parliament continues to amaze me.  Northern Ireland gives me hope for other countries imbued in intractable conflict – Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, and Colombia.  I am not saying that all is perfect in Northern Ireland – it is not.  There is still much work to be done among all parties to the conflict.  It is with much effort, dialogue, openness of heart, and willingness to see the “other” as human that they have made peace possible.

 Cheers to the Irish.  May the road rise to meet you…

Slainte.    Go n-éirí an bóthar leat…


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