Tuesday, 20 March 2012


A parade goes by a flower shop in Tramore (52 degrees North, 7 degrees West). Patrick, a local man, dressed in the celebrated green mitred-bishop outfit, leads from the front. Behind him are loose rows of young people, marching behind banners of the associations of which they are members: scouts, girl guides, dancers, Tae Kwan do-ers, hurlers and, yet more, martial artists.

Patrick is leading them out of Tramore, one of many Hamelins all across Ireland. He is banishing not snakes, as in the Christian foundation myth, but young people. Ireland is leading its young off the island. 

Do they go or are they pushed?

They follow Patrick, embodiment of the many myths that make up Ireland today, including the current myths of Irish emigration. 

The Irish are everywhere. And always have been. They (ad)venture from their small island, from the edge of a large continent, along an extended coast, packing a capacity for escape, a history of colonialism and underdevelopment, a stifling socio-religious order in the 20th century and a native urge for romance, daring, fighting, hard-work, brio and a mighty gift of the gab. 

The native Irish are everywhere. They follow Patrick through Tramore, to the sea and emigration. 

The sun spangles on the waves across the marvellous bay between Brownstown and Metal Man heads. A woman says: There'll be no young people left.  

Her daughter is bound for Canada, with a nephew. Another niece is Australia-bound. She has a nephew in London and another niece in Qatar. The young Irish are everywhere. As always.

Patrick was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as an economic slave. He escaped and later returned as the most successful and celebrated missionary, among many, for the Holy Roman Empire brand of Christianity, raiding the green landscape of Ireland for his colour emblem.

It is the green of Islam that billows in the winds of change today.

The parade rumbles by. A line of vintage tractors and motors. There are always tractors. A parade in a small town in Ireland without tractors would not have meaning. But for how long? The drivers are vintage too.

Modern tractors are behemoths with humongous tyres, ploughing across mono-cultured farms, driven by contract boyos, wearing garish ear-defenders.

70% of emigrants say that their quality of life is better since emigrating. 56% say they are happier. Are the emigrants the lucky ones? 

International and local bankers, developers and their political cronies devastate Ireland. Young people face bleak futures. The ones who get away have options. The ones who stay have none. 

Patrick traditionally wore (or incanted) a lorica, a mystical garment, a breastplate, a prayer, that was supposed to protect the wearer from danger and illness, and guarantee entry into Heaven. 

A modified verse extract from it for today reads:

Crisis with me, Crisis before me, Crisis behind me,
 Crisis in me, Crisis beneath me, Crisis above me,
Crisis on my right, Crisis on my left,
Crisis when I lie down, Crisis when I sit down,
Crisis in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Crisis in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Crisis in the eye that sees me,
Crisis in the ear that hears me. 

Crisis when Patrick leads me. Heaven is elsewhere, not in Ireland. Heaven is an emigrant's destination.

The Irish Times; newspaper; Monday 19th March 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment