Running for Irish president (maybe) day one and two


"But you weren't born in the US" my wife's aunt said to me at the barbecue, "you can't run for president."

I had to explain it was president of Ireland I was talking about.

She was relieved. 'Thanks be to God... 'You'd never beat Obama anyway' she said.

The spry 85-year old from Kerry is about to embark on her annual pilgrimage to Ireland where she will terrorize the neighbors in Kerry with her all night card games.

Aunt Nora is a wonderful weathervane to measure progress by. After a lifetime of anti British sentiment she was charmed by the Queen's visit to Ireland.

Elizabeth R may be the only 85-year-old on earth in better shape than Aunt Nora I reckon.

After the Irish Times report on their front page that I was considering running, the pace picked up remarkably.

The Sean O'Rourke show on RTE 1, Ireland's national radio station, is the key political program and Sean himself is a Tim Russert-type figure with an encyclopedic knowledge of Irish politics.

He asked me to go on in the early morning my time and talk about my decision. Between shooing my daughter out to school and dealing with the cranky air conditioning (it is 96 degrees here in New York) the time flew by.

As the time for the interview drew near I felt unaccountably nervous.

I am used to doing radio and television but never about myself. Being the man in the arena is a new experience.

Unlike many in the media I have a deep respect for politicians.

It is often a thankless job but the vast majority in my experience start out with the right intentions to do well and do good.

It is what happens after that can be disillusioning but some of the great ones, a Kennedy, a Clinton still make it all seem like a noble profession.

Sure there is always the Greek chorus, never more loud than these days, claiming we are heading for disaster here there and everywhere. They have been there for time immemorial too.

All I know is no pessimist every set foot in America to live.

The journey of every family here from the great to the ordinary began with a man and and woman with a small suitcase departing their homeland for the bright city of America.

I want Ireland to have that sense of optimism,not this dreadful dark cloud that has settled there.

The interview went fine I thought as I sketched out what I believed is the untapped power of the Diaspora in areas such as tourism and economic development to help Ireland.

It was a bit surreal putting down the phone in the Long Island suburb , looking round my house and knowing I had taken a huge step into the unknown wondering what have I gotten myself into.

I'm a great believer that you need to reboot your life from time to time.

I jumped on a Greyhound Bus from Chicago to San Francisco one day back in 1979 rather than go back to Ireland and a teaching job and I've never regretted it since.

Likewise, when I jumped on a plane to New York from California in 1985 it changed my life again.

Where this step leads I have no idea, but the journey is certainly interesting.

Irish in America have certainly come on board A nice note in the Irish Echo, our competitor, from editor Ray O'Hanlon cheering me on was a much appreciated gesture

I will keep you informed.

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