“There's no one as Irish as Barak O'Bama” is the ludicrous – and annoying – title of a song by Ireland's Corrigan Brothers. Until recently I have dismissed the song and the whole “Barak O'Bama is Irish” thing as a load of nonsense. I'm changing my mind.
What's happened? Well this – there has been no American ambassador to Ireland since December 2012, when Dan Rooney said goodbye to Dublin and reacquainted himself with life in 'the Steel City.' For 16 months now the beautiful mansion in Dublin's Phoenix Park that serves as the US ambassador's official residence has remained empty, unlived in, a void of human activity.
Now there are plenty of people upset about this, especially Irish Americans. They see the President’s failure to name a replacement for Rooney as a slap in the face for the Irish in America, and the Irish in Ireland, who could hardly have been more enthusiastic in their support, affection, adoration for President Obama.
Well those who are upset are wrong. This is not a slight from the President, but rather a symbolic act of solidarity with the people of Ireland.
You see, when Ireland's property market collapsed in 2008 bringing down Ireland's banks, Ireland's economy and, ultimately, Ireland's independence (now semi-restored under restricted conditions) the land was littered with half-built and, indeed, fully built, but empty housing developments. These are known in Ireland as “ghost estates.”
When the President heard this he was overcome, laid low by a great sadness. He felt our pain! So he decided he would do what he could to show us that he understood what we were going through. He decided to create his own ghost estate in Ireland – the ambassador's residence.
And it is some “estate.” Sure there's only one house, but it's a mansion on 62 acres, which qualifies as an estate in my book. As for the ghosts, well there are bound to be some knocking around such a vast villa built in 1776 (see why it had to be the American ambassador's residence?).
Back in the days before Irish independence the house was occupied by the Chief Secretary, a top spot in the British administration of Ireland. The Duke of Wellington (Waterloo – remember?) was once a resident of the house as was Robert Peel (not him again!). Those would be two very unhappy ghosts to be spending eternity in Dublin.
Then there's David Gray, America's ambassador during World War II. “Strained” doesn’t half capture his relationship with the Irish during his tenure. Gray rarely had a good word to say about the Irish to FDR and frankly didn't much trust them. Ghastly. Ghostly.
Winston Churchill's father Randolph supposedly spent quite a bit of time in the house in the 19th century. He didn't much care for the Irish either. Let's throw him into the mix. Wellington, Peel, Gray, Randolph Churchill – and there are surely others – will provide the ghosts on the estate.
So there it is – ghost estate. President O'Bama proves the Corrigan Brothers were right all along through this act of national empathy.
All you doubters, all you small-minded unbelievers who suspect the vacant position of United States Ambassador to Ireland is a sign that the President doesn't much care about Ireland or the Irish? You just don't get it. It's just that “there's no one as Irish” as he is.
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