FRIDAY, or months ago, depending on when you’re reading this column, is St Patrick’s Day and reminds me of a Saint Patrick’s Day concert where there was a ventriloquist on stage with his dummy dressed up as a leprechaun, cracking Irish jokes.
The show was in full swing with everybody laughing until Paddy jumps up and shouts at the top of his “Stop this immediately!” There’s a kind of hush all over the crowd and you could hear a shillelagh drop.
Paddy began to protest “I’m sick and tired off people like you trying to make out like all we Irish are eejits! Making out like we’re stupid!” The ventriloquist put his head down a little and said “I’m very sorry sir; I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Paddy replies “I’m not talkin to you. I’m talkin to that cheeky little fella on your knee!”
Recently I caught up with one of my Irish relatives. I was wearing a T-shirt that had the British flag on the front and he asked me why I was wearing such a T-shirt. I thought he was joking, but maybe he was at least a little serious.
He grew up in Ireland but emigrated to Australia while still very young. He still loves Ireland and he is a very great man. When I was about 21 he told me about the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-1851) where around a million people in Ireland starved to death when their crops, predominately potatoes, failed due to Britain’s neglect and even Britain’s hateful racism towards the Irish people.
Many historians believe that the British government of the time initiated deliberate genocide.
The Britain of recent times have tried to right the wrong of their ancestors and in 1997 British Prime Minister, Tony Blair issued a historical apology for the British government’s culpability for their actions that “has left deep scars”.
God can always bring good out of bad and with faith, even greater things. It was through faith that Moses, when he grew to manhood, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and actually chose to be ill-treated in company with the Hebrew people rather than enjoy a life of luxury and wealth that was built on slavery and injustice.
The injustice towards the Irish turned the Irish into social justice warriors. Their stubbornness is a subject for humour but so impressive when they stand up for what they believe is right. The starvation of the Irish people caused massive emigration from Ireland and has resulted in the Irish feeding the rest of the world in so many wonderful ways.
They’ve fed the world financially: Forbes magazine once voted Ireland “the best country in the world to do business”.
The Irish have fed the world intellectually: Ireland is among the top 20 countries for quality research in the world.
The Irish have fed the world with inspiration and artistically: The Irish have 14 Oscar winners and nine Nobel laureates.
The Irish have fed the world charitably: In 2013 the World Giving Index showed that Ireland is Europe’s most charitable people.
The Irish have most of all fed the world with faith and morals: Ireland has consistently one of the highest rates in the world for belief in God and for sending out missionaries to the world. Ireland has one of the lowest murder rates and crime rates in the world.
The suffering of the Irish has ultimately lead the Irish to take away so much of the suffering of others and they’ve done it with such wonderful humour.
FATHER BRENDAN LEE