Thursday, July 8, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

This isn't proving to be an overwhelmingly prolific summer in the blog-posting department... a lack of preschool and a 4-year-old who feels naps (indeed, sleep in general) are a waste of valuable drawing time do not make for wonderful contemplative opportunities. Fall should bring more opportunities for insightful commentary.

In several hours, I depart again, this time for one of those experiences that could rightly be termed a "trip of a lifetime" -- two weeks in Ireland with my husband, the pint-sized artist and my parents. I am sure I will have thoughts upon my return. Hopefully they will be worth reading!

Meanwhile: a few interesting bits and pieces. The Irish potato famine of 1845-51 precipitated the first great wave of non-British immigration to the United States (some Germans and others came earlier, of course, and Ireland was under the dominion of Britain at the time). The famine was so immense, death so rampant and the migration abroad so extensive that even today, Ireland's population is smaller than it was in the early 1840s. Ireland is and always has been such a verdant land that even ascetic monks had a hard time maintaining their asceticism... it was simply too easy to grow food. So why did such a tragedy occur? The key lies in colonialism. The Irish were growing plenty of food throughout the famine... for export to Britain. They did not have access to that which could have saved them; meanwhile, the only food they did have reliable access to -- potatoes -- was overtaken by rampant fungal infection.

Once they got to the United States? Irish immigrants were among the first to discover that in nineteenth century America, "white" was a considerably more restrictive term than that which we use today, and most Americans had no qualms about discrimination. Signs excluding dogs and Irish, or equating Irish with African Americans (who were still enslaved in the South) were commonplace.

We tend to think about colonialism and conquest as deeds perpetrated upon the rest of the world by Europe (and perhaps the United States). There are good reasons for doing this, given the continuing scars that run across so much of the world as a result of this extra-European colonialism. Ireland, however, is a good reminder that the full story is more complicated.

Well, onward and upward (to cruising altitude)! The kid has expressed that what she most wants to see in Ireland are sheep. I am sure we will be able to accommodate her...

1 comment:

Lena said...

I'm so happy you get to go on a family vacation to Europe. Here's to no travel hassles while flying with toddlers, I hope I have taken care of all those already. :)

Can't wait to hear about your travel adventures!