Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Celtic Corner - January 2013


    While other European Celts are subject to the governments of Britain and France, the Celts of the Republic of Ireland (officially Eire in Gaelic) constitute an independent state-the only truly free Celts left in Europe. In an eight-hundred year history of bitter rebellion and savage repression, the English have been less than successful in their attempt to subjugate Ireland. However, up to now the “Emerald Isle” is not yet entirely free of foreign rule. In Northern Ireland, the descendants of the English planted Protestant settlers still formed a politico-religious majority which, as originally planned by the English, continued to favor being ruled by London. From 1969 fighting between the Catholics who favor unification with the Republic of Ireland, and the Protestants, supported by armed British soldiers, has killed over three thousand people.

          In the Republic of Ireland, by contrast, Protestants and Catholics have lived harmoniously together since independence was achieved from the British in 1922. The south’s majority Catholics have been as friendly and religiously tolerant as any people in the world. Since independence, popular elections in the Republic of Ireland produced a Protestant president of Ireland, a Jewish mayor of Dublin, and a Catholic female president married to a Protestant. The English were permitted to continue enjoying the life of landed gentry in Ireland.

          The Celts have always been known as fierce in battle but gentle in friendship. Classical writers said of the Celts that they provided hospitality and food to strangers before inquiring who they were. Centuries later, in Ireland’s 1742 A.D. Dublin (a city then larger than Hamburg or Berlin), the German composer Handel gave the world’s first public performance of what would become his most famous and beloved work, his Messiah. Contrary to what he had been let to believe in London, Handel found the Irish generous and polite.

          A stranger in Ireland today is still assured of “Cead mile Failte” (a hundred thousand welcomes). Internationally, the Irish people were recently voted the most friendly to foreigners of all the people of the European Community-as polled by the European Commission and published in the French newspaper, Liberation. In its 1991 annual report, the United Nations Development Program ranked the world’s nations in various categories of human development. These included the findings that the Republic of Ireland and Japan have the lowest murder and rape rates among all industrial nations. Dubliners were the happiest of city residents as indicated by a UNESCO survey, published in 1995, of fifteen European cities, which found that only seven percent of Dubliners would be happy about living somewhere else. Close behind in the survey were Barcelona and Copenhagen.


The Durable Celts

For centuries the Celts have known their share of war and famine, yet they are still around. Their passion for personal freedom is at the very core of their nature. This respect for individuality may not have served them well in fighting Rome’s single-minded legions, but it represented an early consciousness of human rights that has only recently become fashionable in democratic nations of the modern world.

Like the warmth of the sun
And the light of the day,
May the luck of the Irish
shine bright on your way


Correspondence Secretary                                                                 President

Frank Darcy                                                                                        Ken Egan