Ireland: Why is it called the Emerald Country? Because it is Green, Very Green.
Well through the years, Ireland has been a country of fascination. I studied the history of Ireland over 20 years ago after reading the biography of Michael Collins. Ireland is located on the northwestern side of the continent of Europe, and west of United Kingdom. The island of Ireland is subdivided into two political units: Northern Ireland which included the six northeastern counties of Ulster and is part of the United Kingdom, while the rest of the 26 counties are what make the Republic of Ireland.
This political division emerged under the Government of Ireland Act (1921) and has been a source of political debate for decades and sustained unrest in Northern Ireland over the past twenty years.
The Big Fella - Michael Collins
For those of you who do not know who Michael Collins is, he was an Irish revolutionary leader (a devout IRA leader) who is known to have played a big role in bringing about the Irish State through negotiating the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921. In the process Michael Collins ended up dividing Ireland into two without intentionally doing it because the contents of the treaty were not agreeable to the then existing Irish government: the thought of Britain controlling Ireland’s foreign policy did not seat well with members of the republican movement. Ok, enough with the history and back to my experience with the country of many friends.
The Irish Harp is represented on the left bottom corner of the Royal British coat of arms
I have 11 Irish friends to-date: for some reason I have collected one after another over the last 15 years and I seem to do well with the Irish. My very first Irish friend was Ian Clarke the dear doctor (he is one of the most successful foreign doctor sin my country running such a huge International Hospital. I met Ian at the Kampala Hash House Harriers meeting when I was in University. My friend Jackie and her boyfriend had insisted I go to the Hash with them so I did. When we were introduced, Ian seemed very interested in my background and I in his, we sat down after the run and he told me the history of his relocation to my country over 10 years by then. To cut the long story short, Ian and I became good friends from then and I was later introduced to another Ian (the GOAL representative for Uganda), then the Irish Ambassador Brendan who then introduced me to his colleague Brendan (an Irish Aid representative living in Zambia).
Liam Neeson (Irish Movie Star) as Michael Collins in Hollywoods depiction of the Anglo-Irish War movie
From these four people I met another 7 Irish friends who all do not seem to talk much about their home country of Ireland, I found that very strange.
One day I asked Ian about his home – he was quick to change the subject telling me he would not be who he was if he had stayed back home. I wrote a letter to my friend Sven in Limerick asking about is family (he wrote of grim times and hardship and the fact that he was stuck home taking care of his ageing parents). The two Brendans talked mostly about the places they had been and seemed to be very happy people (well they are, I still know and talk to them). So I took the notion in my head that Ireland might be a really bad place to live and I decided to put more time into finding out why the people I know do not have nice things to talk about their country. I figured my country is poor, corrupt, diseased and all but I love talking abut my country – there is so much good in my country so I do not concentrate on the bad, nonetheless when people ask I talk with passion about my home.
The little boy in Angela's Ashes
In 1998 when Peter decided we were going on summer vacation, Ireland was not on the list of countries we were to visit (well many of the countries we ended up visiting were not on the list). We arrived in Dublin late in the evening and checked into a hotel down town (I can’t remember what hotel). I was exhausted from the long journey and I had eaten something that did not agree with my stomach, so I retired early to bed.
Dublin is a beautiful town: As we walked the streets I was looking out to see if I would see priests walking around – well from my earlier history lessons they talked about priests in Ireland.
Well there were no priests on the streets if they were; they were no half as conspicuous. Dublin reminded me of the town my cousin Grace lives in East London, nothing to write home about and the people seemed to be self absorbed in an unfriendly way. I loved the statutes and art pieces that were used in the city to tell stories of the past. Peter took me to visit the Irish castle and announced we would be going to Limerick the next day to see the green, green country side. He said I would love Limerick more than Dublin because it has character and history.
Frank McCourt is Irish (He is the little boy in the book)
I have a few photos of Ireland that I will need to scan.