“Just give me your hand in a gesture of peace / Just give me your hand and all troubles will cease / The strong and the weak, both the rich and the poor / All peoples and creeds, let’s meet their needs.”
Words from the Irish song “Tabhair Dom Do Lámh,” which translates to English as “Give me your Hand.”
Congratulations to our Business 100 honorees and our Keynote speaker Denis O’Brien. You are all great representatives of our culture and heritage and we are thrilled to profile you in this issue, which marks the beginning of our 36th year in publishing.
Denis O’Brien’s story, of helping others in the pursuit of their own goals and dreams, is just the sort of story that we love to publish in Irish America.
He had a vision of making the world a better place, and is doing just that on a global level, by investing in education.
Thanks to the Digicel Foundation, thousands of children from poor economic backgrounds now have access to learning – a giant step towards a better life for themselves and future generations.
Denis is not alone in affecting change. Many of our Business 100 honorees, having reached the top rungs of the corporate ladder, are reaching out and giving a handup to others.
Our own traumatic history has given us perspective and empathy for the troubles of others. The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces carries a daily reminder of the brutality of colonization, and our past sufferings in the cause of freedom.
“Just as we would not accept another state determining our foreign and security policy, Ukraine similarly has the sovereign right to choose its own policies,” Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN, Geraldine Bryne Nason, pointed out to the Russian members of the UN Security Council.
The Ukrainian National Flag – Blue and Gold – symbols of land (wheat/yellow) and sky (blue) – are also the colors of Tipperary – my home county – and as I watch the news, I’m reminded that there were more evictions in Tipperary in 1847, the worst year of the Great Starvation, than in any other county.
Some of those who left, settled in Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, where the traffic light in the town has Green on top to symbolize the town’s Irish roots. Reason enough for a large crowd, Irish and others, to turn out, draped in the blue and gold, in a recent show of support.
Photographs of evictions in 1880s Ireland (pg. 84) illustrate our feature on Charles Stewart Parnell. They are heartbreaking.
The first Irish politician to speak to the U.S. Congress (Feb. 2 1880), Parnell laid out a blue-print for the end of the much-hated landlord system in Ireland, which he also linked as the cause of Ireland’s recurring famines. We have excerpted that speech, with a terrific introduction by historian Christine Kinealy in this issue. You can read the entire speech on www.irishamerica.com.
Starvation and poverty scattered us to the four corners of the earth, and we truly became a global people – with a diaspora of some 70 million worldwide. Other countries took us in, and other people opened their doors to us, and we have an inhertited need and duty to pay it forward.
And we do. Our Business 100 are a fine example of that. The fact is, the Irish give more per capita to end world hunger than any other nation of its size – and there is not a better endorsement of a people than that.