By Eugene McGloin
MIKE PENCE probably did not understand the full significance of 1923, when he spoke about it on Wednesday night last.
That was the year his grandfather left south Sligo, for America, forever.
We had just won our freedom (freedom! freedom?) from John Bull.
The Republicans, led by De Valera, had just been defeated in our Civil War. The new country was nearly a bust flush.
the alliance in the new Free State of Cumann na Gaedhael (Fine Gael)
with the Bishops in the Catholic Church were united on one thing.
The 'commies,' that is republicans, Shinners and later Fianna Fáil, would be consigned to the dustbin. Their objective failed.
They failed and De Valera showed poor judgement by later leaving the 'welcome' mat outside.
He should have consigned the political superstructure of the Catholic Church to the dustbin.
People like our President Michael D Higgins will have strong insights on the subject of those years.
The President's family were first-hand witnesses to the awfulness of Ireland in 1923 and afterwards.
It would be nice to think that American Vice President Mike Pence would officially visit Ireland and Sligo.
He and President Higgins should be left, alone, to 'think through' that year, 1923.
Their perspectives might also assist us to better comprehend the remembrances which lie ahead.
There is a (really) terrible beauty and ugliness in some of those anniversaries which lie ahead in the next decade in Ireland.
For my money, 1923 was the crucible which fermented all the frailties and all the failures of the country we afterwards became.
are still that country in (too) many senses. We have merely tinkered
with new names for The Establishment these past ten decades.
Over sixty years after he left this country in 1923, too, I got a letter from a man who did quite well for himself in America.
''More power to you'' he wrote in beautiful handwriting after reading my column.
His letter then urged ''any stab of your pen for the scoundrels.''
What a powerful, potent, image to carry for six decades across thousands of miles of ocean - a stab!
My question is simple: Did he ever leave Ireland, ever leave in sixty-plus years.
He read my words in Ireland's provincial press when they went on sale in New York on a Monday night in the pre-internet era.
My thoughts were a week old -- stale? -- by the time he consumed them in another country.
But for a man keeping in touch with 'The Old Country' after sixty years, what was another week, huh?
These are some of the emigrants I think of today, St Patrick's Day 2017.
Last night, John Ryan closed out his OceanFM show with ''P.A.D.D.Y.''
That is Gerry Carney's powerful song of a distinct Irish (drinking) diaspora.
Too few of those who took that boat to John Bull's Island were as lucky as 'The Yanks' who steamed Stateside ever were.
Mike Pence told of his grandfather's going, of the decision to leave south Sligo and 'why' he left.
was an authentic moving account, decades of working on buses when --
for whatever reason(s) -- he didn't make it home to Tubber.
The piss-poor element of the New Establishment that is RTE missed Mike Pence's (extraordinary) tale completely.
piss-poor elements of the New Establishment think Pence shouldn't come
at all -- for multiple permutations of (their) reasons.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was correct in extending an invitation, too, to President Donald Trump to come see us.
Trump has a long, long road to ever go before he matches the warring records of Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan.
As a country, we crawled like craven gobshites when both of those came....AND would do so for both of them again, Reagan especially.
We need (new) friends in high places and we need to bite our bullets on Trump and Pence.
We need to hear out their new insights, even though we feel we may not like them too much.