How Irish are you anyway?

Another View-The Blog  By Terry Reilly

Get your certificate of Irishness!

ARE you one of the 70 million people around the world of Irish descent who do not qualify for Irish citizenship but would love some tangible piece of paper to prove your links with the old sod?
Well, listen up as they say in my neck of the woods, for I have news for you. Our Government has just announced plans to introduce a certificate of Irish heritage for people dotted around the gobe who have a hint of Irish blood in them.

I kid you not. Our Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has decided to proceed with the initiative, which was first proposed at the Global Irish Economic Forum in Dublin last year when people from all over the world with Irish blood in their veins came together to propose ways and means of getting us through this recession which has left approximately 14% of our population out of work.
The certificates will be issued by a third party agency acting under licence from the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is considering charging a fee for each document issued. It is intended that the initiative will be self-financing, and is not designed to raising significant amounts of revenue.
The scale of the market for a heritage certificate is not known. But the feeling is that many descendants of Irish emigrants would wish to buy one to display in their homes or as gifts for their children.
Some speakers at last year’s forum were critical of the disconnection between Ireland and members of the diaspora, particularly those unable to qualify for citizenship by virtue of having a parent or grandparent born in Ireland. The forum also highlighted the role the emigrant network could play in helping Ireland improve its economic fortunes.
Mr Martin said the Government had taken a broad and inclusive approach to defining Ireland’s global community. “The Irish diaspora is not limited to Irish citizens living abroad or to those who have activated citizenship. Instead, it encompasses all those who believe they are of Irish descent and feel a sense of affinity with this country.”
The reach, power and influence of many members of the diaspora can provide Ireland with an important competitive edge, he said.
The process of selecting a service provider for a trial one-year period is under way, and the issuing of certificates is expected to start later this year, according to the minister.
Operators are likely to have a background in heritage or genealogy. And there is more good news in that the Government is investigating the possibility that certificate-holders would benefit from discounts while visiting Ireland as tourists!
Now the question doing the rounds is how exactly will ‘Irishness’ be evaluated? One columnist has mused that there’ll be an Inspector of Irishness to adjudicate.
And the findings of a local radio station in Ireland some years ago have been pulled out of a dark drawer and given a right old dusting down to, tongue in cheek, help our Minister.
It had asked what constituted ‘Ould Soddedness’ and came up with a list full of surprises. Here was how listeners polled their Top Ten:
1. A penchant for Tayto crisps.
2. A liking for Guinness.
3. A hound for the Irish stew.
4. A full Irish fry-up, with rashers, fried bread and white pudding.
5. An admiration for the GAA.
6. A soft spot for Aer Lingus.
7. An addiction for Irish dancing.
8. A special place for the Irish mammy.
9. A nostalgic longing for red lemonade.
10. A love for the green fields of Ireland.
Stay tuned on this one! And no, it is not an April Fool’s Day trick!!

Bet the love lorn amongst my readers in Ohio would never think of going to a matchmaker to find a suitable, loving partner. Not in the days of internet relationships, speed dating, and whatever you are having yourself, surely?
Well, in Ireland we still have traditional matchmakers doing a fine trade, and some of them were broight over to London last month to work their magic at the first Matchmaking Festival aimed at bringing the perfect couples together.
This unique London event, which ran over five days,  was set on its lusty way with a screening of that evergreen romance film The Quiet Man, forever associated with historic Cong in South Mayo.
Singles were invited to take part in a range of activities — from informal social occasions and masked networking to speed-dating. A flirting coach was available in case chat-up lines sounded a little trite!  With people too busy to meet new people and many not into the habit of online dating, the Irish club thought it a great idea to bring the Irish culture of matchmaking back for modern day people.
A team of matchmakers was present at the club over the week and worked quietly and privately as they made introductions and sorted out pairings. Their decisions were announced on Match Day, when prospective partners finally had a chance to sneak a glance at their match over a three-course dinner (candlelight optional).
Ms Frawley said they wanted everybody to have fun, meet new people and make friends. By all accounts, the Matchmaking Festival scored in all three departments.

They say a cat has nine lives, and in Oscar’s case that could well be true. The poor feline’s rear paws were chopped off by a combine harvester some months ago in a field near his island home in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands lying between England and France.
He was close to death when his owners Michael and Kate Nolan discovered Fitzpatrick’s Referrals, run by a ‘Bionic Vet’ from Ireland, Noel Fitzpatrick, who performed pioneering surgery to give Oscar prosthetic legs.
The English-based surgeon used titanium and other metals for the artificial feet — something never before attempted anywhere else in the world.
Now the two-year-old pussy has been able to return to normal duties, such as chasing mice and birds. Speaking from his state-of thearte centre, 42-year-old Fitzpatrick said: “The real revolution with Oscar is because we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone, with very narrow tolerances.
“We have then successfully managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an exoprosthesis that allows this implant to work as a seesaw on the bottom of an animal’s limbs to give him effectively normal gait. Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do.”
Fitzpatrick is renowned in veterinary circles as the man who developed these groundbreaking techniques. He was the first to implant a false metallic paw to a dog. He added: “These latest surgical techniques are set to transform the future of orthopaedic practice in both human and animal medicine.” He is now the subject of a new BBC1 TV series in Britain which follows him as he tries to save animals using pioneering technology.
Not surprisingly, Oscar was the star of the first episode!

(Article written for Irish merican News, Ohio, USA)

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