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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Thursday, August 2 2001

Back to UK/Ireland

Two weeks from now I'm scheduled to be in England and Scotland (both on that day) and it's getting close enough now that it's hard to think of much else. It's a vacation trip for myself and my son Mike; my sixth time to Europe, first time abroad (farther than Mexico) for Mike. This time, the plan is to rent a car for two weeks in London, drive through the United Kingdom, take a ferry from Scotland to Belfast, Northern Ireland, drive around Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, ferry back to Wales and return the car at Heathrow airport before departure back to the states.

In a sense, I feel like I'm doing this over again until I get it right. I took a very similar itinerary with my late brother Tom in October '99. The big differences this time are 1) a pilgrimage to Iona, the Hebrides island off Scotland from which the Scottish nation was launched by Irish missionary Columba in the sixth century, and 2) venturing into Northern Ireland. (Sparse Pict tribes lived in what is now Scotland at the time; Columba brought the Gospel to them and from his generation on there was such a large immigration of Irish to Scotland that they became the majority. Even the name Scotland is actually one of the names of Ireland, which the immigrants applied to it. Columba is credited with anointing the progenitor of the Stuart dynasty that ruled Scotland for centuries, and later England, and the missionary saint was the first to use the Stone of Scone in a royal investiture.)

This is scheduled as my fifth visit to Ireland but is planned as my first to Northern Ireland. Call me chicken. Even the warning signs in London airports and railway stations to stay away from and report any unattended luggage or abandoned parcels are daunting, but "the troubles" in Ulster (the regional name of that part of Ireland) have had too much impact on me. More than a million and a half people live through their days there even when the troubles boil over. It's one of the most beautiful parts of the Emerald Isle, by all accounts, and one of its big towns, Armagh, is the principle site of St. Patrick history and lore. It's also the region from which Columba launched his missionary endeavor.

It's a great irony of history that "the troubles" stem from efforts to "return the favor" from the Scots and English to their Irish neighbors. The Scottish nation was Christianized by Irish missionaries in the first centuries of its existence. Nearly a millennium later, English Puritan ruler Oliver Cromwell and, a few years later, King William (also known as William of Orange, from which the Northern Irish get their "orangeness") sent Scots settlers back to Ireland to convert the Catholic populace to the national churches of Scotland and England (Presbyterian and Anglican, respectively). Protestants came to be the majority in the cities of Belfast, Derry (formerly Londonderry), and the six counties containing and adjoining them, surrounded on three sides by one of the most stalwart Catholic majority populations in the world.

As a descendant of Protestant Irish-Americans on both sides, I can see the logic of the Ulster Protestants' resisting attempts to give their governance from the English to the Dublin-based Irish Republic. On the other hand, I know I'm safer in the Republic and feel that their Catholic neighbors are not threatening them. And my strongest opinion about the problems are that they are, at bottom, more economic than religious. To both observant Protestants and Catholics, "religious war" is a quintessential oxymoron.

If you're looking for a connection with Nanty Glo (other than "Armagh"), it may be a stretch, but the demographics of Western Pennsylvania demonstrate a strong connection. Irish/Scots and Scots-Irish are second only to Germans in ethnic makeup of the state, and the farther west you go the more prominent the Scots-Irish become.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Differences in Men and Women

If Laura, Suzanne, Debra and Rose go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Suzanne, Debra and Rose. If Mike, Charlie, Bob and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Peanut-Head and Scrappy.

When the bill arrives, Mike, Charlie, Bob and John will each throw in $20, even though it's only for $32.50. None of them will have anything smaller, and none will actually admit they want change back. When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

Sent by Mike Harrison


Sometimes God calms the storm; sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

Sent by Zan

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