• It has all become quite confusing. Shakedowns, scams and broken bridges; this doesn't sound like your average Irish gathering at all.
Seriously, while strongly dismissing The Gathering, Gabriel Byrne referred to the bridge between Ireland and its diaspora as being broken. Which section of the diaspora does Gabriel mean?
No Irish person who has felt it necessary to emigrate, and no family member or close friend of a person who has emigrated, will not have felt the heartache, loneliness, grief and anger that occurs when someone's expectation of a home and a career in their native country is denied them.
This is a hard fact – one of the hardest a person could experience. But there is the possibility of returning home. Ireland has many industries now and opportunities will continue to arise.
Irish emigrants propped up our economy in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. They left Ireland due to lack of employment opportunities and the poor economy. Many were determined to remain Irish at their core and did not integrate fully into their new communities.
And while their best years were being spent working abroad, sending their wages home to support their families, life at home was slowly moving on and leaving them behind.
Far too many Irish men and women became part of a much publicised group known as the 'forgotten Irish'. Links were unfortunately and shamefully broken with this group of Irish emigrants; grave mistakes were made and lessons were learned.
I sincerely doubt this would be allowed happen again, either to or by our emigrants.
Many emigrants who left during the 1980s and 1990s frequently travel home, and their family and friends visit them in turn. Both Ireland and the adopted country alike benefit from this.
Then there are the most recent emigrants. They are the 'smart' generation, with no disrespect to emigrants who have gone before; 'smart' in this case refers to the technology and social media now available.
Clearly the link between all three sections of the diaspora is the lack of employment opportunities and the poor economic state of the country.
We can spend time pointing the finger of blame for emigration at the current Government and the ghosts of governments past, but in the meantime, why not remember that we are a friendly, welcoming nation?
Greystones, Co Wicklow