The number of Irish passport holders in Northern Ireland has risen dramatically while applications for U.K. passports have dipped, according to official reports outlined in a report by the Irish Times. Irish passport applications in Northern Ireland began to rise in 2016 after Britain voted to leave the EU. Applications for UK passports saw a 15% decrease while Irish passport applications doubled. If the trend continues, Irish passport holders will soon outnumber the amount of U.K. passport holders in the North.
Irish passports are not a new commodity, the Irish Post compiled a list of non-Irish celebrities who have Irish citizenship. Included in the list are A-listers such as Mel Gibson and actress Olivia Wilde, who derived her staged name from Ireland’s own Oscar Wilde.
A post-Brexit era has resulted in many issues beyond passports. Brexit has impacted not just Northern Ireland but the entire island. In a recent report for the Texas National Security Review, former Brexit counselor at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., Alexandra Hall Hall, stated how she “heard a senior British member openly and offensively, in front of a U.S. audience, dismiss the impact of a “No Deal” Brexit on Irish businesses as just affecting ‘a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks.’”
Meanwhile, the British Government have once again informed parties in the Stormont Executive in Northern Ireland that the Irish Language act will soon be introduced. The act, if implemented, will give the Irish language equal status as English in the Northern Ireland region, like that of the Welsh language in Wales.
The Irish Language act has been another divisive point in Stormont, with DUP leaders claiming post-Brexit protocol should be the government’s main priority, while Sinn Féin agreed to power sharing alongside the DUP, after the resignation of Arlene Foster as First Minister, on the basis that the act would be introduced.
A previous date to resolve the legislation was set for early October but had been missed. A letter sent to Stormont has asked all parties to confirm their interest in an Irish Language act briefing. A date has yet to be set.
Elsewhere in the North, the founders of the Kevin Bell Trust won £1 million in the National Lottery this week. The County Down couple founded the repatriation charity after their 26-year-old son Kevin was killed in a hit-and-run in the Bronx. The charity has helped return the bodies of over 1,000 Irish expats from all over the world since its inception in 2013.
In the west and north-west of Ireland, a new university has been announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris. The new, multi-campus university will be introduced in 2022 and will involve campuses spread along the west coast in locations such as Galway city, Castlebar, Letterfrack, Mountbellow, Sligo, Killybegs and Letterkenny.
The announcement was received positively in the region. The northwest regional president of Business group Ibec said “the establishment of a Technological University is an immensely positive achievement that will underpin the regions’ future economic and social progress.”
The university is the fourth technological university to be announced in the country. Technological University of Dublin was the first to be introduced in 2019.
In other education news, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said Irish primary school children could be receiving their first Covid vaccine within the next few months. Mr. Varadkar also raised the possibility of antigen tests being made available to students who are a close contact of someone within their school ‘pod’. The news comes after Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the midterm break would not be extended despite a rise in cases among school children who do not meet the minimum vaccine age requirement of 12.
Despite this rise in cases (2,605 cases were confirmed in a single day this week) the opening of night clubs and similar venues has gone ahead despite confusion over guidelines last week. New rules will require 1m social distancing in queues to enter venues and to order at a bar. Venues will also need to provide an isolation room where anyone exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 must be kept until they can safely leave the premises. Tickets must also be purchased in advance to attend any venue.
Nightclub ticket sales may see a plunge, however, after reports of up to 6 students being spiked in the Munster region. Student Unions across the country are sharing HSE guidelines which emphasize awareness of the issue after 198 cases of spiking were confirmed across the UK since the beginning of the semester.
Across the Atlantic, the Aisling Irish Community Center has just celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a 6k fun run in Manhattan last weekend. The center received messages of congratulations from New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States Daniel Mulhall and Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
New York native and Irish acting prodigy Saoirse Ronan will be teaming up with Paul Mescal, fresh off his Emmy nominated Normal People performance, in “Foe” a sci-fi thriller based on the novel by Ian Reid. Filming is set to start in Australia next year.
Also bound for Australia, the Irish women’s soccer team has qualified for the 2023 World Cup which will be jointly hosted by the Aussies and New Zealand. The girls in green secured their place after a 2-1 defeat over Finland earlier this week. Megan Connelly put Ireland on the scoreboard and Denise O’Sullivan secured the game-winning goal.
Even a sun-stinted stay in Oz won’t compete with Ireland’s capital, however. Dublin has been voted the 7th best city in the world according to Lonely Planet. Topping the list is Auckland, New Zealand. Atlanta was the only U.S. city to crack the top 10, at number 5. Sure, the Dubs won’t care who is ahead of them so long as it isn’t Cork!
And if you find yourself missing the Emerald Isle this Halloween, take solace in the knowledge that the very holiday you are celebrating originated from the one and only Roscommon! The festival of Samhain (pronounced Sow-in) was a pagan celebration which celebrated the Celtic New Year.
Those who lived in the townland of Rathcroghan, in the midlands of Ireland, would gather at an elevated temple which was surrounded by the burial grounds of Connacht elite.
There, they would make ritual offerings to the spirits of the underworld. This subterranean dimension was known as Tír na nÓg (pronounced Teer-na-nohg) and was inhabited by fairies, devils, and leprechauns. During the feast of Samhain these demons would escape through the Oweynaght Cave (pronounced Oen-na-gat), meaning the cave of cats but also know as the gate to hell.
According to Mike McCarthy, a Rathcroghan tour guide, “Samhain was when the invisible wall between the living world and the other world disappeared.” To avoid being dragged to the dreaded Tír na nÓg by these devil-like creatures, the pagans would disguise themselves as fellow ghouls. This concept was brought to America by Irish immigrants and thus, Halloween, the costumed, sugar-filled celebration as we know it was born! So, remember to dress as scary as you can this weekend to avoid a one-way trip to Tír na nÓg!♦