Posted by: mdmusingsie | May 13, 2010

Waxing Philosophic

As people around Ireland and around the world (including our little Cascadia Gaeltacht in the Greater Vancouver (WA not BC) and Portland (OR) area) prepare to commemorate National Famine Memorial Day this weekend, I thought I’d share a few facts and of course thoughts.

The Great Famine took place in the 1840’s and reduced the population of Ireland by upwards of 1/3 through starvation and immigration.  This is only the second National Famine Memorial Day in Ireland.

Many call this the potato famine; however the failure of a single crop did not cause this kind of devastation.  Others call it the Irish Holocaust; an unspeakable act of genocide.  Whatever you call it, it was an entirely preventable event causing the needless loss and displacement of so many people whose only crime was to be Irish.

As tempting as it is to go into the sordid details, I will refrain.  Equally tempting is to point fingers and lay blame – there are many whose guilt is well documented.  Yet, I leave that for those who seek truth, to find it on their own. There are plenty of resources available.  Read them…and weep…but always remember.

While we cannot erase what happened, we are called by the spirits of those innocent victims, to remember and learn from the past.  My hope is that karma does eventually turn her wheel.


Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love castles.  New, old, ruined, restored, it doesn’t matter; they are all amazing and magical in my eyes.  When you consider the technology available at the time many of these structures were built, it is certainly awe inspiring.

The first time I came to Ireland, the tour guide told us that it wasn’t uncommon for Irish farmers to raid the stones of abandoned castles for use in building their own homes or walls to divide their fields.

Since that time, I have pondered why people would want to destroy such magnificent structures.  Now that I’m on my fifth trip it is finally starting to make sense.  As I learn more and more of Irish history; the invasions, repressions, famines, all the trials and tribulations the Irish have endured, I finally understand that these buildings are not looked at with the same admiration.  How could they when their ancestors may have once ruled within those thick stone walls but were cast out by invaders; or suffered under the harsh rule of the castle’s inhabitants?

While I will continue to view castles as magical and amazing, I will no longer gaze with such sorrow at those in a state of ruin.


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