Short blog today. It’s St. Patrick’s day and we all get geeked up about being .00001785% Irish and wearing green. I never really liked the holiday much when I was younger because I inevitably forgot to wear green and got pinched all day. As I got older and began to read more about Irish history and culture and connected it to my own Irish roots, I warmed up to the idea. Several years ago, my wife and I spent a week on the Emerald Isle exploring, eating, sampling the Guinness to make sure it was pure, and we had an amazing trip. One thing I found out while there was that St. Patrick’s day is not as big of a deal in Ireland as it is to the Irish in the USA. The people of Ireland don’t have all the fanfare and hoopla (that’s right – I said hoopla) surrounding the day as we do here in America. I still like the idea of the holiday, and it warms my heart to see everybody wanting to be Irish, even if they aren’t lucky like me.
This may be labyrinthine reasoning, but stay with me here. There are millions of Irish in America. Most of them are the result of a mass migration during the 1800’s usually associated with the Great Potato Famine. That was definitely a factor in driving the Irish to America, but the true reason for their leaving is that land ownership among the native Irish was almost nonexistent. To grow crops you need land. To raise animals for meat and milk you need land. To be able to withstand shortages, you need land to grow other crops beside potatoes. There is always an economic root cause to everything in history. The Irish were starving, but they were starving because they had no ownership in their own country and it kept them from providing for themselves. There was no mass migration of English from Ireland during those terrible years. Why? Because they owned the land and could provide for themselves. America represented more than jobs and food and escape to the Irish – it represented the chance to own property! It’s what all the great emigrations from all over the globe represented – land, real property, as we call it in our industry.
So wear your green with pride today even if you aren’t one of the blessed Irish like me. Let’s celebrate more than green beer and leprechauns today. Let’s celebrate the fact that here we can carve out a big or little plot for ourselves and our families, and call it ours. The American dream of ownership is alive, but it’s under attack and we all need to restore it to its rightful place in our laws, and our culture. The Irish are a symbol of what this country has to offer, and we can all get excited about that.
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