Friday’s Inauguration

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I know, I know, the title is a weaker pun than even Bugle readers should expect.

Inauguration FlyerWe partied with friends at TGI Friday’s on St Stephen’s Green. It’s the most American drinking establishment around here, and they did the place up for Tuesday night.

An article in The Irish Times that got me thinking: “Irish catalyst in Obama’s journey” by Patrick Cosgrave (who reports on the work of historians and the observations of Obama’s friends).

Barack Obama owes a whole lot more to Ireland than an ancestor or two. His journey of change and his central vision were born 150 years ago because of Ireland. … Who inspired Barack Obama? One figure appears to stand above all others: Frederick Douglass.

In a letter from Ireland to William Llyod [sic] Garrison, one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Douglass wrote: “I seem to have undergone a transformation. I live a new life.” He went on to add that, “instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, gray fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe, and lo! the chattel becomes a man! I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as a slave, or offer me an insult.” Prof Patricia Ferreira, of Norwich University, concludes that “although from a young age Douglass possessed the inclination to be a leader, Ireland was the site where this trait blossomed”.

Douglass, it seems, inspired Obama more than any other individual … because it was Douglass, “transformed by Ireland”, who first articulated change in a way America has never forgotten and in a way to which Obama has given a new meaning. “Behold the change!” Douglass wrote from Ireland. Behold Obama!

A selection of Irish articles on the inauguration:

Time for Obama to be as good as his eloquent word – Irish Independent
This week, the first black American president will move into the White House — a residence that was partly constructed by black slave labour. And, although Barack Obama is not himself descended from slaves, his wife (and thus his children) are. Whatever President Obama achieves, or fails to achieve in office, the extraordinarily moving fact of his election will dominate history’s view of him. … So why do I think that there is anything dubious about Obama’s gift for words? Because the miraculous effect of them cannot be a substitute for action.
Moneygall, you’ve got competition – Irish Independent
A second Irish village is laying claim to be the ancestral home of Barack Obama. The tiny village of Moneygall raised American flags and tricolours side by side yesterday. The excitement started early in the morning in the Offaly village when an Obama bus pulled up outside of Ollie Hayes’s pub. But in the nearby village of Shinrone, Co Offaly, it was a more low-key affair, as they have only recently discovered links to Barack Obama.
It’s Obamarama time! – Irish Times
The American Ireland Fund is hosting a daytime event for supporters at a building on Pennsylvania Avenue, with excellent views of the parade. On Tuesday night, the leading lights of Irish-American society will don black tie and ball gowns at the Phoenix Park Hotel near Union Station for the first ever Irish inaugural ball. Irish Ambassador to the US Michael Collins and former taoiseach and EU ambassador John Bruton are among the guests of honour at the event, which is hosted by Irish-American Democrats, a political action committee that raises money for Democratic candidates who take an interest in Irish causes. … The Irish event is the biggest of the ethnic balls…
Illegal Irish “need Obama’s help” – Irish Times
An Irish MEP has written to US President-elect Barack Obama to highlight that up to 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living in the US need his “political assistance now more than ever.” Seán Ó Neachtain, Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland North and West, urged Mr Obama to consider introducing measures to allow undocumented and illegal Irish to remain in the US legally.

1 Comment to “Friday’s Inauguration”

  1. Will said...
    27 January 2009

    A followup to the article quoted above, and the song posted on Tumblr:

    The song “There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama” should be a reminder of a disgraceful past, writes Fintan O’Toole.

    The Irish Times columnist is not pleased with the many attempts to link Obama with Irishness.