Third, and most importantly, there is far more that unites our countries and people than divides us. While no one could mistake Ireland for the 51st state, the ties that bind our countries and people are incredibly strong. Hearing the litany of Irish surnames called out at the recent ceremony at Ground Zero honouring those who died on 9/11 is testament to these ties. President Mary McAleese spoke movingly about “our friends and family” in the United States at a ceremony in Dublin to commemorate the tenth anniversary of what was an awful day in the history of both countries.
Moreover, as those who’ve travelled in continental Europe in recent years would readily recognise, America and Americans have far more in common with Ireland and the Irish, and vice versa, than with continental Europeans. Ireland is a part of the European Union and has benefitted from closer ties with Europe in myriad ways. Yet culturally, whether consciously or unconsciously, Irish society has turned to Boston, not Berlin.
In the end, these three truisms are offered as “macro” musings that, I hope, provide some context for the positive and negative “micro” points made in the two recent columns on this site. While I both agreed and disagreed with the observations made in the two columns, I respect both authors for undertaking in a thoughtful fashion what is vital for all those who describe themselves as Irish-Americans and want to fully comprehend their cultural identity: a trip “home.”