Lovely little Maire, my seventh grandchild, was born in Galway in the small hours of the morning after the polls on the gay marriage referendum in Ireland closed.

She was only hours old when the counting staff spilled out the contents of the ballot boxes on to the long deal tables of history. And as we know now, gay marriage will be legalized in the Ireland in which my Maire will grow up in Connemara.

Permit me to divert from that electoral reality to elaborate on the unique region of the western world into which the almost seven healthy pounds of my Maire has been delivered on a historic night for the nation and for her parents Aine and my son Dara.

Many of you readers will have visited Connemara. Many more of you will have been born and bred there, like Maire, and will have later taken the well-trodden emigrant route to the U.S. and elsewhere across the globe.

And many more of you in our millions-strong diaspora will have Connemara genetics passed down the line since the harsh era of the coffin ships. Those are genes and DNA to be proud of.

My mind boggles when I compare the realities of the rugged west Galway region which I came to reside and work in over 40 years ago against the sharply developing new realities for incoming citizens like little Maire.

When I arrived in Galway it is a fact that the Magdalene Laundries in the region were still full of young women with hurted faces and souls whose crime was that they fell pregnant in a conservative super-Catholic society, and that led to many of them being delivered into the laundries by their own shamed families.

The residents in the streets around the Galway City unit of the laundry there would routinely report the girls' occasional escape attempts to the nuns, and where could the poor young women go anyway? They could not go home.

The institutionalized scandal was not known about back then. I am ashamed to this day that, as a local journalist, I did not investigate the situation. It is a regret I will have to live with forever.

Back then, out in Connemara, it was a harsh lifestyle still. Tourism and fishing and the so-called American Letters with remittances from emigrant relatives were important supports for a community whose Gaelic mother tongue was still not given the national respect it deserved, was in fact disparaged by many sections of the outside society, and often only given minimal lip service by successive governments.

There was something of a siege mentality among the general population of a region which, in essence, as a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) zone was akin to a Republic within a Republic under the peaks of the Twelve Pins.

What a different Connemara my Maire has arrived in. She will, like her older brother Ultan, be raised in an Irish language home in an Irish-speaking society in which the old language has real status, not just in Connemara and the other Gaeltacht regions of the island, but across the land.

Her mother's mother tongue is of the strong Donegal tradition, and Dara is fluent. She will be schooled through Irish in an enterprising community which is now prospering, and her first friends will all be Irish-speaking.

In later years, of necessity in this world, she will learn English and, charmingly, it will be what we call Book English, infinitely more properly delivered than what her grandfather spouts forth with his Northern accent. (But when he visits he will speak always in his limited Gaelic out of awe and respect).

Connemara, and the other Irish-speaking districts, now have their own radio station backed by the state and also their own TV station, headquartered in the region, TG4, which not alone trades at the highest creative level but also boasts, in "Ros Na Rún," a lively Gaelic soap which is required listening daily for the folk in Maire's new world and, because of the strength of its storylines, far beyond that too.

She has been born into a Connemara where possession of the old language is nowadays of major economic advantage in life. There are jobs across the media and beyond, teachers and interpreters are needed, and residents actually get higher than national government grants for establishing new homes in the Gaeltacht.

The language is a bonus to such an extent that there are areas where folk without the language cannot purchase a house. Maire's new Connemara will differ greatly from the one her proud grandfather first experienced all those years ago.

And, incredibly for those of us of a certain age, if she ever desires to marry another woman she will be able to do so in the land of her birth. And she will never need to fear the Magdalene Laundry.