Sunday 17 November 2019

A-Z of USA & Ireland

Bound by history, movies, commerce and legendary personalities, Ireland and America have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for centuries. Ciaran Byrne presents an eclectic A-Z

A is for the American dream of freedom and a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success.

The idea is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that “all men are created equal” and that they are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”

B is for Blarney Stone, quite possibly one of the most unhygienic tourist sites in the world but it doesn't stop busloads of tourists arriving in the Cork town to plant a smacker and receive the gift of the gab. A favourite for visiting Americans, the stone is 'kissed' while visitors are in an upside position.

C is for Clinton, Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States who came to Ireland in November/December 1995 at a crtitical point in the Northern Ireland peace process. At rallies in College Green, Dublin and City Hall, Belfast, Clinton told spellbound crowds that the day of the gunman had passed.

D is for Dubya - George W Bush to be precise. He spent the night of June 25th 2004 at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare. But his brief stop-over is not really classed as an official visit to Ireland, as it was part of an EU-US security summit and Dubya flew out the very next day. 6,000 gardai and soldiers were on duty that day

E is for Ellis Island - From 1820 to 1920, more than four million people left Ireland for New York and a new life in America. Ellis Island officially opened on January 1, 1892 and the first immigrant was a young Irish girl named Annie Moore. Just 14-years old and traveling with her two younger brothers, Anthony (11) and Phillip (7), Annie departed from Queenstown, Cork in 1891.

F is 'Far and Away' - the 1993 film starring Tom Cruise with a really bad Hollywood Kerry accent and Nicole Kidman as 'Shannon' who, equipped with an equally bad Irish brogue, set out for America and a new life on land in the Mid West.

G is for Glocca Morra The fictitional village was featured in the hit musical, Finian's Rainbow - and the song How are things in Glocca Morra? was a smash hit for Rosemary Clooney. A visitor recently arrived in the main tourist office in Dublin with an urn containing his mother's ashes. Hoping to scatter the remains on the old sod he asked: “Can you tell me the way to Glocca Morra?” Unable to help him they sent him out to Glendalough instead.

H is for Henry Ford, the most famous Irish American in the history of the motor industry. His father William Ford (1826- 1905), was born in County Cork. In 1847, at the height of the Famine, William's father John was forced to uproot his family and make the gruelling voyage to Canada and then the US, where Henry was born.

I is for Intel, the biggest single US employer in Ireland. The firm's campus at Leixlip is home to over 4,500 employees and is Intel's largest manufacturing plant outside of the US

J is for J1 visas, the sought after travel and residency documents familiar to so many Irish people which allow them to stay in the US every year.

K is for Kennedy. The most famous name in the lexicon of Irish America. The visit to Ireland by JFK in 1961 is still the one to follow. Just two years later he was assassinated in Dallas.

L is for Leprechauns. Movie giant Walt Disney once came to Ireland to look for the little fellas and it took some convincing before the entertainment and movie mogul was persuaded they didn't exist.

M is for Moneygall. The village has been given a makeover, the streets have been scrubbed and the residents of the Co Offaly village are ready and waiting for Mr President

N is for New York - the city that has welcomed so many irish over the years.

O is for Obama. The 44th President of the United States will never forget his trip to Ireland and Moneygall.

P is for Peter Griffin, the shambolic star of US smash animated comedy 'Family Guy'. In one episode, Brian and Peter travel to a village in Ireland to find Peter's real father. They discover Peter's father is Mickey McFinnigan. The episode contains more stereotypes than you can wave a hurley at

Q has to be for 'The Quiet Man' - the 1952 movie starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald which was filmed at Cong and other locations in Connemara.

R is for Republican - this term means slightly different things depending on whether you're in America or Armagh.

S is for Shannon airport which opened in 1942 and has maintained strong Irish-US links with air services operated by carriers on both sides of the Atlantic. Military flights have also been a regular feature of life at the airport since the Cold War and more recently to facilitate the transit of US troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Protesters have consistently opposed this policy and a recently released Wikileaks cable showed just how anxious US officials were to ensure Ireland continued to allow the use of Shannon

T is for tax - Corporation Tax to be exact. One of the biggest draws for US firms to Ireland is the low rates enjoyed by firms such as Intel, Google and others.

is for the American dream of

freedom and a promise of the

possibility of prosperity and


U is for the United States Navy. Founding father Wexford man Commodore John Barry, born in Tacumshane in 1745. He is recognized as not only the first American commissioned naval officer but also as its first flag officer. He died in Philadelphia on September 13, 1803

V is Virginia, home to Arlington cemetery where JFK and his brother Bobby are buried. At JFK's funeral in 1961, a group of 24 Irish Defence Forces cadets as part of the 37th Cadet Class performed silent drill at the grave site. Months earlier, President Kennedy saw the very same drill carried out by the cadets' senior class at Arbour Hill, Dublin, during his visit to Ireland. He was so impressed that he requested a film of it.

W is for White House, arguably the world's most iconic building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC. It was designed by Kilkenny archictect James Hoban. Hoban was born and raised in a thatched cottage on the Earl of Desart's estate in Cuffesgrange, near Callan.

X is for X rated - the US magazine 'Playboy' was banned in Ireland until 1990s

Y Yukon Territory - where Irish emigrants flocked during the 19th century gold rush on the Klondike

Z is for Mark Zuckerberg. With Facebook, he has changed the way we communicate and today more than 500,000 Irish people now have a social media account.

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