Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

 March 17, 2003

Happy St. Patrick's day, y'all

The 2,368th person killed during the troubles in Northern Ireland was an off-duty Protestant policeman and poet named Sandy Stewart, who was shot in 1981 when two masked IRA gunmen burst from a rainy night into his Catholic fiancee's seaside pub.

He had written a poem called "A Breath of Hope for Ulster:"

Give us grace to see a brighter dawn

The hope that could inspire our needs

Strange there seems to be a chance

Time has not left us destitute . . .

Or is it wisdom come to be

Made by the motion of history . . .

Daniel O'Connell said, "Political change is not worth the shedding of one drop of blood." He said this in the 1840s.

In the 1990s, two leaders in Ireland, one Catholic and one Protestant, John Hume and David Trimble, won the Nobel Peace Prize for their perseverance in working towards a peaceful resolution after years of bloodshed. Here is what they said about it.

"For most of us involved, we took a crucial decision when we entered into the Belfast agreement on that Good Friday at Stormont.

"And now, of course, we're engaged in less dramatic, but more important hard work of carrying the agreement into fruition, getting it implemented, getting the arrangements there, coping with the difficulties that arise, and there have been and there will continue to be some difficulties.

"But, I think we can cope with them, and we will be able to work them through."

­ David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, 1998.

"And as we move now to the new century, let us move to our new beginning. Let us leave our past, and it was a terrible past, let us leave it behind us.

"Let history judge it. But let's now lay the foundation, as we are doing, for that new beginning, and let's begin to work together in the new century.

"And let us have the first century in our island history in which we will not have killings of human beings on our streets, and in which we will not have emigration of young people to other lands to earn a living.

"And as we work to achieve that, and particularly to use our energies to build rather than to destroy, I have no doubt that we will transform that little island."

­ John Hume, leader of the social democratic and labor party, 1998.

Robert F. Kennedy said, in his Day of Affirmation Address at the University of Capetown in Capetown, South Africa, in 1966, not long before he was assassinated:

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

His niece, Caroline Kennedy, in her new book, "Profiles In Courage," told us about David Trimble and John Hume, two men who lived up to Robert Kennedy's advice.

Thomas F. Cahill in his book "How the Irish saved civilization:"

"More than a billion people in our world today survive on less than $370 a year, while Americans, who constitute five percent of the world's population, purchase 50 percent of its cocaine . . . but Americans won't determine the future.

"The future is going to be determined today by a British orphanage run by Irish nuns in the grim foothills of Peru. The future is going to be determined by a house for the dying in a back street of Calcutta run by a fiercely single-minded Alabanian nun who was trained in Ireland.

"The future is with an easygoing French medical team at the starving edge of the Sahel, a mission to Somalia by Irish social workers who remembered their own great hunger. Or with a nursery program to assist convict mothers in a New York prison . . .

"Perhaps history is always divided into the rulers and the Catholics, or better, catholics.

"The modern rulers, the Americans, are the rich and powerful who run things their way and must always accrue more because they instinctively believe that there will never be enough to go around; the catholics, as their name implies, are universalists who instinctively believe that all humanity makes one family, that every human being is an equal child of God, and that God will provide . . .

"The 21st century will be spiritual or it will not be. If we are to be saved, it will be not by the powerful, but by saints. This is what the Irish have taught the world."

Below is one of my favorite poems. I had the inexplicable joy of seeing some Kerry farms myself.

I am Kerry

I am Kerry like my mother before me, and my mother's mother and her man.

Now I sit on an office stool remembering, and the memory of them like a fan soothes the embers in to flame.

I am Kerry and proud of my name. My heart is looped around the rutted hills that shoulder the stars out of the sky,

And about the wasp yellow fields and the strands where the kelp streamers lie;

Where, soft as lovers' Gaelic, the rain falls, sweeping into silver the lacy mountain walls.

* * *

I should have put a noose about the throat of time

And choked the passing of the hobnailed years,

And stayed young always, shouting in the hills

Where life held only fairy fears.

When I was young my feet were bare

But I drove the cattle to the fair.

'Twas thus I lived, skin to skin with the earth,

Elbowed by the hills, drenched by the billows,

Watching the wild geese making black wedges

By Skelligs far west and Annascaul of the willows,

Their voices came on every little wind

Whispering across the half door of the mind,

For always I am Kerry . . .

­ by Sigerson Clifford

An Irish prayer

May them that love us, love us:

And those that don't love us, may God turn their hearts;

And if he doesn't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles

So we'll know them by their limping.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, y'all.

Jim O'Leary


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