From the Irish American Unity Conference Newsletter
South Florida Chapter News
Submitted by Marie Smith
This has been a busy month for the South Florida chapter of the IAUC. We had booths at two festivals, sold raffle tickets, spoke on the Famine at Nova University, and had our Gaelic Mass of commemoration on Sunday, March 27th, when all the local Irish Americans organizations participated. Media coverage was great and we educated many on the watershed in Irish history. In the aftermath of my meeting with Pat Carey, Minister for Community, Equality & Gaeltacht Affairs in Dublin last July, before he left office in February I received a very encouraging letter from him stating that my recommendations were brought before the National Famine Commemoration Committee and this year the implementation of one of the requests, a competition involving schools, had been initiated. A blog: Gaeilge, and website: http://www.bladair.com was recently launched by the Mayo Education Center, requesting bloggers to recount their stories of the famine in their particular areas. The National Famine Commemoration page of the department is on the website, http://www.pobail.ie. It is hoped that this first step with the Irish government will eventually bear fruit in the opening of a workhouse famine museum. Recently on the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?”, Rosie O’Donnell’s unknown ancestry was showcased and for the first time she learned that her ancestors were put on a coffin ship to Canada from a workhouse in Naas, County Kildare. She was flown to Ireland and shown what a workhouse represented and it was a traumatic experience for her – our first notable whose origins were the workhouses of Ireland.
Over fifteen years ago the IAUC had a foundation and under its umbrella we educated many people in the history of Ireland, and their origins. What amazes me today is the number of Irish Americans who still know nothing of their history. The former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stated: “Truth is a very precious thing, and it should be guarded by half-truths” So with the falsehood of the word famine, we all know now there was no famine in Ireland. Bumper crops left Ireland during the years of the supposed “famine” while the rural Irish, who subsisted on potatoes only, starved to death.