They’ll be coming from around the world to celebrate the “Gathering” this summer in Ireland. Those with roots in the motherland are being summonsed home to celebrate their heritage.
“They all look like us,” will be the common observation as the Irish convene in the land from which so many departed in the past two centuries. The dialects of America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand will mix with the musical rhythm of the brogue.
The Irish are a proud people. Some are still trying to get over the fact that Christ did not choose Ireland as his birthplace. Why did he favor the arid deserts of the Mideast over the green grandeur of the Erin Isle?
“Surely it’s because we would have treated him better and there’d have been no redemption,” one wag observed. “If he was Irish, they’d be hearing confessions at the pub. Come to think of it, they do but without absolution,” commented another.
During the diaspora most left grieving. Their ancestors will return with an appreciation of what was gained and what was lost as the Irish spread their unique gifts around the world. With no natural resources to export, Ireland sent its people. Most left willingly but under duress; others were transported on prison ships.
The echo of their grief still resounds in the wind that blows from the sea through the rugged hills and valleys of this majestic land.
On they came with little but their faith, determination, and good humor. Wherever they settled, that country was richer for it. They joined armies, and built canals, railroads, and bridges. As their numbers grew, they used their brains as well as their brawn to influence the course of history.
Politics was a natural outlet. Taking care of your own combined with wit and persuasion proved a winning formula for political success. Those achievements translated into opportunities in education and business. With power came assimilation but the Irish retain a strong connection to their motherland, with its natural beauty and music but, most of all, its people.
They spring from a land of contradictions; ruggedly beautiful but forlorn, connected but isolated. There is a sadness swirling from the depths of its troubled history that drink and gaiety can, at least for a time, dispel.
Irish literature and humor erupted from its troubles like some volcanic residue; literature to describe and explain; music and humor to lift spirits. To be Irish is to understand the futility of it all yet know the difference between defeat and surrender.
Faith is the light that makes the darkness bearable. Humor makes it fun. It’s what permits the Irish to see the human condition in a way that makes even sorrow and tragedy a source of amusement.
Ireland is a poem that needs to be experienced; a mother in a land of farewells forever mourning her lost children.
So come and enjoy the people who can have a good time and laugh at themselves even when things look bleak. If they can enjoy a party under such circumstances, imagine the fun you’ll have at a joyful time like the “Gathering.” Slainte!