Showing posts from July, 2017

Welcome to the City of Bluster

Did you know there was a "prayer crisis" in my city this week? No?

Well, I guess you might be more familiar with the homelessness crisis.                                  

At this time of year, Galway is buzzing with life. The pubs and restaurants are packed, the arts venues are heaving, but every night visitors are taken aback by the number of people they see bedding down in shop doorways.

They can’t imagine what it must be like to bed out in the most western city in Europe during the cold, wet, and windy months when tourists don’t fill the hotels and the rain and winds sweep in from the Atlantic seaboard.

The scenes in Galway this year are unprecedented, reminding me of the alarming level of homelessness I witnessed in San Francisco - where at least the climate is much better - two decades ago.

The problem in Galway has become more and more acute and more visible. Last winter, for example, homeless people could be seen to brave the harsh elements in a shelter in Salthill …

In Ireland, you've got the people ...

What exactly is “home”?                                                        

If, for example, you grow up in the wilds of Connemara, with the backdrop of picturesque but barren mountains, roaring Atlantic waves, stony fields, and the beautiful, living Gaelic language, can you always call it your home?

Even if, as thousands upon thousands have done, economic necessity forces you to leave your native place and to spend your entire adult life hundreds or thousands of miles from home?

The thought struck me, watching the wonderful ‘Rocky Ros Muc’ film this week, that few are connected to their land, their local communities, and the stories the rocks and the stone walls could tell, as the people of the West of Ireland.

Boxer Sean Mannion returned home from Boston for the emotional Galway screening of the new documentary film about his life and it was striking to see how many people in the capacity audience were moved to tears by his life story.

Not because he lost a world title fight, b…

Seeing through the Jobstown spin

Has Ireland always been such a divided, class-based society?          

Or is it only in recent times that people are beginning to wake up to divisions and prejudices which have existed for generations?

For centuries, our people were united by colonisation. It was far easier to band together when we had a common enemy as subjects of the British Empire, when virtually all of our ancestors were treated as second class citizens in their own land.

It’s easier to unite against your rulers when they bind you into a life of poverty, persecute you for your religious beliefs, kill your language, deny you land ownership rights or force you into exile.

Far more difficult if the “enemy” is within.

A century has passed since the martyr James Connolly warned the Irish people that their struggle for freedom would be in vain if they replaced the British Empire with a new set of landlords, financiers, and capitalists.

God knows what he would make of the Irish Labour Party in 2017.

It’s far more diffic…