Monday, March 16, 2009
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH BUT …
March 15th 2009
Pictured in Washington DC on an earleir visit, President Barack Obama, myself and Rita O Hare
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH BUT …
This blog is on the train from New York to Washington DC. As has been remarked in this space before, the train is a very good way to travel, particularly here in the USA. Here they have a quiet car. Use of mobile phones is banned. So is talking.
“Absolutely no conversation,” declares the conductor in a tone which has a sense of authority that will not brook any deviation from her orders.
This blog is used to women bossing it about so, as a stranger in a strange land, I am quietly reassured by her presence.
I started the day with Mass in Saint Francis of Assisi Church. I went there because Father Mychal Judge used to minister from that church. Mychal was killed in the Twin Towers collapse after the terrorist attack on September 11. He was a chaplain to the New York fire fighters and if you ever watched the film taken inside one of the towers after the plane hit it, you will see Father Mychal making his way into the building as others were trying to escape out of it.
I knew Father Mychal from his presence at Friends of Sinn Féin events in New York. He also met with us a few times in Ireland. He was a strong supporter of Irish freedom and of the peace process. During one of his visits he came to Stormont to see us along with Steven McDonald a young New York cop who was very seriously wounded in a gun attack and is now wheel chair bound. I know Steven also from his attendance at our events and from his work for charity.
When Mychal was killed his remains were officially identified by Steven. He was also recognised as the first official victim of September 11. Incidentally Mychal is Father Judges religious name. His own name was Robert Emmet Judge.
All these thoughts and more were in my mind as I made my way into the Franciscan Church off Seventh Avenue. It was chock filled with people and I was one of the very few white Caucasians in the congregation. The mass was in Korean. Not surprisingly the congregation were mostly Koreans also. And they sang like angels. They also bowed to each other at appropriate times during the ceremony. I wasn’t long catching on. Between the bowing and the singing and the loud applause at the end, the Korean mass was a nice experience.
Anyway, back on the train. The woman conductor with the bossy voice is called Eileen. Her people come from County Cavan. The USA is like that. Paddies everywhere. And not just on Saint Patrick’s Day. One of the privileges of this blog’s work is to get to meet with some of these people who give of their time and money, even in recessionary times, to assist the Irish cause.
I met some of them this morning. We meet more this evening. And tomorrow, Saint Patrick’s Day in Washington and Wednesday and Thursday up in Boston before the long journey home. These trips are always exhausting. But they are uplifting as well. To engage with people and organisations who care deeply about Ireland and the Irish people is inspiring and very worth while.
Irish America still has considerable clout here. The Speakers Lunch and the reception in the White House is evidence of that. President Obama has his hands full with domestic issues, the recession and two wars but it is expected that he will take time to commit support to the Irish peace process, and almost certain that he will announce the name of the new Special Envoy. All that is good.
This blog also expects a positive announcement from Tom Di Napoli, the New York State Comptroller on the investment front. That is good also. Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson did some productive work here on the West coast so that should lead to positive news as well.
Not bad for the recessionary times that are in it. And a very good context from which to judge the negative and entirely unworthy deeds of the so called dissidents.
Let us be vigilant. This after all is the Ides of March.
But let us continue to set an entirely positive and worthy agenda. Not just for the limited time it takes to plan or execute a dissident attack but all day, every day in the mighty work of uniting the people of our small island and ending British rule in our country.
That’s the journey we are on.
And as surely as this train is eating up the miles between New York and Washington we also will reach that destination.
In the meantime this blog is going for a little shut eye. My jetlag has jetlag. Have a good Saint Patrick’s Day. Zzzzzzzzzzz.