And Here I Though It Would Be A Nice Break…

31 Oct

Whenever I speak to an Irish person and the pleasantries such as names, hometown, etc., come to an end, I would guess that 70% of the time politics are brought into discussion. It is quite odd that Irish people would have not only a vested interest, but also sound understanding of the Presidential race in America. I find this nearly comical because in America, while it is huge news, it is not a day to day topic of conversation. Therefore, I wanted to do a little research to see why Irish people are so interested in the Presidential race.

It may sound egocentric, but let’s be honest here: the United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world. As such, it is not terribly surprising that people around the world are inherently attuned to our activities. Since the current Presidential race will have huge implications in to our foreign policy, it creates the perfect storm of attention to US politics. However, it can be argued that the Irish have more of an interest in our activities than most other countries in Europe.

The relationship between the Irish and US politics can be traced to many spots. During the Great Famine in the mid 19th Century, America became a huge emigration location for the struggling Irish families. A recent study showed that over 40 million people in the United States claim Irish heritage, and 25% solely claim Irish heritage. Therefore, it takes no stretch of the imagination to imply there are many people living in Ireland with family in America today. In fact, President John F. Kennedy, who was an icon in Ireland during his presidency, visited Dunganstown in his 1963 trip to Ireland; his family originally hails from here.

However, it is also noteworthy to look at what the Irish Embassy in Washington, D.C. had to say about US-Irish relations in a 2008 review requested by then-Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. The introduction stated that, “The United States has played a central role to Ireland’s economic development and path to peace.” While I’m sure we were not the only player in Ireland’s economic development and peace process, this would explain why many Irish people have an attraction toward US politics.

I suppose I will have to get used to Irish people constantly wanting to talk politics. Let’s just hope Obama wins so we aren’t scorned, as I am told by a few Irish people that is a likely outcome (sorry to all Republicans on this trip).


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