John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasons

The storied president was more English than Irish, despite being seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance

John F. Kennedy: an anglophile for all seasonsJohn F. Kennedy is often seen as the ultimate symbol of Irish-American success and social acceptance. And there’s much truth to that. Irish by ancestry and Roman Catholic by religion, Kennedy’s election to the U.S. presidency represented a breakthrough in status and prestige for an ethnic group that had once been viewed with suspicion. But…

Irish Civil War left long memories and bitter divisions

Ninety years ago this month Irish cabinet minister Kevin O'Higgins was assassinated as payback for his role in the Irish Civil War that ended four years earlier

Irish Civil War left long memories and bitter divisionsOn July 10, 1927, Irish cabinet minister Kevin O’Higgins was murdered while en route to Sunday mass. It was payback for the role O’Higgins played in the Irish Civil War that ended four years earlier. The three perpetrators were never prosecuted. Decades later, I had a conversation about this with my father, who told me…

Meet Ireland’s new power pair

Polar opposites, Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster together must help the Irish people navigate political and economic minefields

Meet Ireland’s new power pairLast week, I saw a photo of two Irish politicians standing together after a meeting in Dublin. One, Leo Varadkar, is the Republic of Ireland’s new prime minister. The other, Arlene Foster, is the leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). It would be hard to imagine a more unlikely pair. Varadkar is cool,…

Ireland braces for fundamental change

Tectonic shifts may be in the offing in the wake of a startling Northern Ireland election result and with Brexit hanging menacingly over Ireland

Ireland braces for fundamental changeThe Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” may be apocryphal but it fits the circumstances facing Ireland. In a way few would have imagined 12 months ago, forces are loose that could dramatically upend the status quo. One of these is the result of the election for the Northern Ireland Assembly held earlier…

Putting to rest a Fenian rebellion fantasy

Folklore and reality clash when it comes to examining North America's role in quelling an Irish rebellion

Putting to rest a Fenian rebellion fantasyWhen I was a child in Dublin, a popular patriotic ballad began with the line “Deep in Canadian woods we’ve met, from one bright island flown.” No, it wasn’t about the joys of being a lumberjack – it was a celebration of the failed 1866 Fenian invasion of Canada. The Fenians, you see, were folk…

Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising

If legitimacy for armed insurrection requires some form of prior democratic mandate, then Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising failed the test

Ireland’s 1916 Easter RisingAlthough Easter 1916 fell in late April, Ireland has opted to celebrate the centenary of its Easter Rising coincident with this year’s early season rather than wait for the strict calendar date. It’s easy to understand why. In traditional Christianity, Easter is about blood sacrifice, redemption and resurrection. And the same mystically sacrificial quality has…

The Celtic Tiger is back, with a vengeance

Trade, infrastructure, a skilled and youthful workforce have all combined to propel Ireland past Canada

The Celtic Tiger is back, with a vengeanceThe early (early) morning drive North of Dublin tells the tale. Starting at five o'clock on any weekday morning, cars and trucks are very nearly bumper-to-bumper on the Motorway, their headlights pointing to Dublin. From far-off towns like Drogheda and Dunleer, the Irish are getting up early to participate an extraordinary economic turnaround – one…

Eamon de Valera Ireland’s most controversial politician

Militant revolutionary, prime player in the Civil War and prime minister for 21 years

Eamon de Valera Ireland’s most controversial politicianThe dominant Irish political figure of the 20th century died just 40 years ago. Born in New York but raised in Ireland by his maternal family, Eamon de Valera served as the equivalent of prime minister for 21 years between 1932 and 1959. Before that, he was a militant revolutionary during the Irish War of…