Feature

Ireland: Heartbroken by constant farewells

The loss of poet Seamus Heaney made Irish hearts ache, but really, we’re always in mourning here, aren’t we?

Billy KeaneIrish Independent

The loss of poet Seamus Heaney made Irish hearts ache this week, said Billy Keane, but really, we’re always in mourning here, aren’t we? Our children leave this country to live abroad, to bring up their own children in the diaspora. I’m sure that when my old sixth-grade teacher looked out at our class “around 40 years ago, he knew most of us were for the boat.” Our teachers “educated us for export.” That was before the Celtic Tiger economic boom, of course, but in the wake of the great financial collapse, those days are returning. Today, “a boy or girl leaves Ireland every six minutes.” Faced with such statistics, one could just slip into depression and weep over the erosion of our clan. But Ireland is worth fighting for. Some of us have banded together to promote the Gathering, urging all Irish descendants, whether recent emigrants or five generations removed, to visit the motherland in 2013. When they meet their cousins and hear the stories and hoist the pints, they’ll see that there’s no better place to call home. In the meantime, though, “I’m just lonesome and teary for all my old pals who were full of hopes and dreams but had to leave this lovely place.”

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