Writer Liam Ryan wrote "Emigration is a mirror in which the Irish nation can always see its face” and those of us who have experienced working and living away from home particularly at a Christmas time know the raw emotions that can be experienced by many over the period.
It is important that time is taken to reflect on the impact of emigration on families, communities and society in general. A recent survey highlighted the fact that one in three Irish people aged between 18 and 24 are planning to emigrate in the next 12 months. Latest emigration statistics show that over 60,000 people left Ireland in the twelve months leading up to April, the highest rate since 1989.
The Christmas period is an especially difficult time for the undocumented Irish in America. Many people from this area have family members living and working in America who they have not see because of the restrictions on travel enforced by their undocumented status. It is imperative that the issue of the undocumented Irish in America and all the hardships that go with such status are resolved in a humane manner. The fear of not being allowed to re-enter the US, where many Irish people have made good lives for themselves, has meant that these people have been cut off from their families and their native country. The issue of the undocumented Irish remains unresolved.
Our families, friends and members our communities are living under the continued threat of being demonised as felons.
A pathway to Citizenship must be found for them. Let us remain committed to ensuring that their plight and that of their families will be highlighted
So here’s to all our loved ones, friends, fellow countrymen and women, who for one reason or another find themselves away from home this Christmas. And when we toast them we must show due compassion and consideration for those from different lands and cultures who now reside within our communities. They too have loved ones and “homes” many miles away.
My own son who now lives in England put it so well when he reflected “I know that I am very fortunate to be celebrating Christmas in this way, but despite all of the attractions that where I am now holds there is one thing it isn’t, and that is home. For despite the comfort and cheer that I’m lucky enough to have, there is one thing that I can be absolutely certain of: I will be missing home and wondering what family and friends are doing back in County Armagh”.
You can be rest assured that many of us here at home will be wondering just exactly the same about our loved ones, no matter where you are.
Leave the door upon the latch,
And set the fire to keep,
And pray they'll rest with us tonight
When all the world's asleep.
"Nollaig Shona Daoibh" (Happy Christmas) wherever and whoever you are.
Pat Mc Ginn a local Newry and Mourne Sinn Féin Councillor has been involved in highlighting the issue of the Undocumented Irish living in the USA for many years
An Ciarraí Carúl Nollaig” (A Kerry Christmas Carol).
1. Scuab an t-urlár agus glan an teallach,
's coimead na grísaigh beo,
Ar eagla go dtiocfhaidh siad anocht,
Agus an domhan 'na chodladh go suan!
Brush the floor and clean the hearth,
And set the fire to keep,
For they might visit us tonight
When all the world's asleep!
2. Ná múch an coinneal ard bán,
Ach fág é lásta go geal .
Go mbeidh siad cinnte ar aon
go bhfuil fáilte is fiche roimh cách
Sa teach ar an Oiche Nollag naofa seo!
Don't blow the tall white candle out
But leave it burning bright,
So that they'll know they're welcome here
This holy Christmas night!
3. Léig amach ar an mbord, arán is feoil,
Agus braonín bainne don leanbh.
Agus beidh beannacht ar an dtine
Agus ar an té a bhruith an t-arán
Agus ar an lamh a dhéin an t-obair dian.
Leave out the bread and meat for them,
And sweet milk for the Child,
And they will bless the fire, that baked
And, too, the hands that toiled.
4. Beidh Naomh Iósaef túirseach,
Tar éis an turas fada.
Agus aghaidh Mhuire fann, bánghnéitheach
Agus beidh néal codlata aca.
Sar a n-imthígheann siad arís.
For Joseph will be travel-tired,
And Mary pale and wan,
And they can sleep a little while
Before they journey on.
5. Beidh túirse na mbóthar fada ortha
Agus seans aca a scíth a ligint,
Ó's iomai an míle fada uaigneach
Atá roimh an dtriur aca
Uaidh seo go dtí Beithil.