Visiting EPIC Ireland (was a refreshing experience because I had never before experienced a center dedicated to emigration of a large group of people. I was interesting to learn about the various reasons why many people left Ireland. I knew that one of the main reasons was the promise of better opportunity in places like the United Kingdom and the United States. I also knew that many Irelanders had contempt for The U.K., but I discovered that another main reason for the mass emigration was the Potato famine.
I learned that the Potato famine was such a big deal because potatoes were and still are the main source of food, whether import or export, in Ireland. But I also learned that despite the mass emigration, Ireland today is well-cultured, because many people either immigrated back or those of other places immigrated to Ireland.
One thing that Ireland never lost was it’s culture, especially in sports. GAA and Rugby continue to be large parts of everyday life. I experienced this with the Gaelic games trip earlier this semester. These games have made their way as far as North America, where a population of those who emigrated brought with them the sports.
Something else that was interesting was the importance of surgeons, physicians, those of skilled trades, including engineers. These are important trades because without them, the basic framework of society could not be built or maintained. Much like in the United States, inventions played a key role in altering the landscape of the standard of living and the structures that could be utilized by society to live. In many ways, Ireland after emigration emulated the transformations that were occurring in the United States.
Ireland respected and worshiped key American figures such as John F. Kennedy, who to this day remains a mythical figure as a key Irish-American. Barrack Obama, who just relinquished his presidency a year ago, is also celebrated as a figure for the people. Ronald Reagan was a polarizing figure in 1980’s America and Ireland because of his fight against communism and freedom, as Ireland was struggling against the power of the British during the troubles. The troubles were just one part of the violence that was brewing before, during, and after Ireland’s fight and victory for independence from the British.
Many Irish came to America, and established deep seeds in the crime underworld, becoming some of the most notorious gangsters and criminals in our history. America inherited culture and history from Ireland, but it’s culture continues to be an integral part of Ireland’s history, the present, and the coming future.