President Mary McAleese continued her jam-packed four-day visit to New York on Friday with a trip to the New York Stock Exchange, where she addressed US businessmen with ties to Ireland.
She did not mince her words about the seriousness of the problems facing Ireland, or the anger its citizens feel over they mess they find themselves in.
After she met the suits on Wall Street, the president headed over the Brooklyn Bridge where she met with kids from PS 197.
No matter the age, from the hardened financiers to the fresh-faced students, the Irish president underlined the fact that her country was now facing economic hardship and was taking measures to redress the situation.
“Do you all know the recession word? We got hit very badly ... “ President McAleese told the kids in Brooklyn when asked about the economy in Ireland, according to The Irish Times.
In Wall Street, she went into more detail, saying that Irish people “are as mad as hell” over the economy and suffering with the repercussions of serious spending cuts because “once trusted individuals and institutions” led the country on a merry dance to the precipice of financial disaster.
While McAleese talked in detail about the economic challenges facing Ireland, she also spoke of the Irish famine and the resilience and strength shown by the Irish people during this period.
These traits have been passed down through the generations and will help the Irish tackle today’s challenges.
When asked about how her own family was affected by the famine, the President said:
“My grandfather told how his grandmother saw bodies lining the road, nine deep, hundreds of bodies. He also told how his grandmother’s mother went to the big house where the British aristocracy lived, the local big wigs.
“She was a widow with four children and she begged for food. She was given what they called Indian corn, which wasn’t fit for humans. They had to boil it and boil it, and two of her children died from eating it. In the records of the big house, we found her name on the list of people who got food.”