Today we are in Dublin, which is an open City with people smiling and bustling about. In a way it reminds me of Chicago without the majesty. Our schedule had us going to the Little Museum of Ireland, which was opened in the 20th century and records the social and political history of Dublin. It records the tale of conflicts, deaths, and tears that this country has endured throughout the years. However, there are some photographs that Americans are drawn to including photos of John Kennedy, who was the first U.S. head of state to visit Ireland in an official capacity, and a picture of Mohammed Ali, who fought in Ireland in 1974. The Museum also has a photograph of Mary Robinson, the first woman elected President of Ireland in 1990. Later when we visited City Hall we were told the significance of the Irish flag being 3 colors: Green is for Catholics, Orange is for Protestants, and White is for Peace. Back in the Museum there was a modern wing devoted to the Irish band U2. The younger generation knows better than mine of their popularity, but the Irish are very proud of them, as they are of all Irish people who do good and are recognized. The Irish are a proud and beautiful people in spirit, courage and appearance. There is a certain inscription in the U2 Exhibit from the 1985 Live Aid concert that caught my eye, and it read:” During the Band’s performance of BAD at Live Aid, Bono leaps down from Wembley stage to dance with one woman out of 72, 000. The song stretches to fourteen minutes. Inspired, impulsive, and brilliant Bono connects with the world.” Perhaps I was dawn to this inscription because I feel it could represent the history and people of this little island called’ Ireland. I am struck by the fact that for centuries they have fought and voluntarily died for independence and the right for their country to be free. Other people accept their plight, the Irish have said, “No, we want to be free.” Perhaps I admire their struggle because I am from Texas and brave people also voluntarily put their lives on the line for freedom.
In the National Museum of Decorative Art and History we further learned of the Irish history of bloodshed and tears which in the past several centuries has come at the hands of the British. One example came from what were referred to as the Black & Tans in 1920-1921 which referred to British ex-service men who were brought in to suppress the Irish. Their orders were to, “make it a hell for the population in general,” which they did by committing unspeakable crimes against the population and burning and attacking towns. In 1916, pursuant to conditions becoming intolerable under the British, some leaders in Ireland signed a .Proclamation of Independence which was the first document to recognize the rights of women and declare a national identity. It read in part: ” We declare the rights of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible….the Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, civil rights and equal opportunities to all citizens, and declare and resolve the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation…” To Americans this sounds very similar to our Declaration of Independence. The 7 who signed this Proclamation were executed by the British shortly thereafter. They signed the Proclamation knowing this would happen.
Our delegates had our farewell dinner in the evening. It was a successful trip. We came, we learned, and we experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions. Tomorrow most of our delegates will fly back to America. But we will never look at this little Island the same. Nor will we ever forget the Irish people and their courage.
Journal entries by: Richard Pena
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