IT was a Sunday morning 50 years ago that I left Cobh, Co. Cork, bound for New York aboard a Cunard ship named Ivernia. I had a £20 note and a few bob in my pocket.
After a five day voyage and a stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I landed in New York and I still had eight or nine dollars in my pocket. All the Irish emigrants on board had one thing in common -- namely, nobody had money.
We had no internet, e-mail, laptops or social network outlets before we headed out to help us explore the new country. Yet, starting from scratch, we all made out very well in the new country.
Today, I see thousands of young Irish men and women hitting the road again to different countries around the world, because the financial depression hit Ireland and left it broke. As individuals leaving Ireland everyone should know what to expect when they “chance their arm” in seeking a new life abroad.
First, everyone must recognize that they have started their journey down the road to the places of hard knocks, where nothing is easy and nothing is free. The old axiom is still true -- before you take passage, take warning from me, fresh air in New York, is the only thing free. This is true of towns and cities in every country where emigrants must go in order to find work and make a living.
Some things may be hard to understand for people who have never seen hard times. All must understand that their families and loved ones will miss them and visa versa.
But that is normal. Communications have revolutionized in the past 50 years and nobody has to wait for snail mail letters anymore.
Beware of Irish politicians who are weeping crocodile tears to bemoan the departure of the young men and women of Ireland. To the contrary, they are delighted and consider the mass exodus to be a blessing in disguise.
Once the departures are confirmed the emigrants are no longer a burden on the Irish government. They are not entitled to receive benefits. Unemployment statistics drop.
To add insult to injury, the (emigrant) citizens of Ireland become disenfranchised, as well as being out of work and looking for jobs in foreign countries. They can no longer vote in Irish elections simply because they happen to be too far away from their “neighborhood” pooling places in Ireland.
This speaks volumes about how little value the Irish politicians place on their emigrated citizens. What an unscrupulous injustice to deprive the jobless of their right to vote in their homeland.
Disenfranchisement is typically a political response from cowardly government officials who are fearful that these emigrants could one day vent their anger and challenge the majesty and power of the Dublin government.
Government officials are not one bit ashamed that so many people have to pull up stakes and find work in other countries, because of their massive incompetence. These government officials in Dublin should hang their heads in shame.
Like all the other Irish generations who went down the road to hard knocks before the present group, Irish emigrants will do mighty well in their new countries, provided they keep their heads about themselves and are not afraid of hard work.
The old adage that “a fool and his money will soon part” still applies. If people give away their hard earned money to someone else, then someone else will own it.
The lousy position that Irish emigrants are in today is not the work of a tyrant’s hand. Their egregious predicament is the handy work of the arrogant, know-it-all leaders of the Dublin government, along with, the greedy banking establishment and the high notions of money drunken developers who wanted to build McMansions and create a new world order, without a penny in their pockets and nothing to back it up except more borrowing.
So hunker down friends, because the Dublin Debacle will not be over any time soon. Nobody is hitting the road now, for a four day weekend holiday. This is all long term.
Apply your brainpower to bettering yourselves and your new countries. Most emigrants will become life long members of what Irish politicians like to refer to as the “great Irish diaspora,” (that is, when they are looking for something from Irish emigrants and their descendants.)
So be alert, be cool, adjust, stay healthy and out of trouble. The dark shadows will pass and brighter days are coming.
May God Bless and protect everyone.
Lynbrook, New York