The ‘Best Blog Post,’ Ireland and Me

I must confess to actually feeling ashamed of being Irish yesterday morning. My only way of coping with this was to run into the sea here in Tramore. It was stunningly beautiful, all blue with soft fluffy waves. As it kissed my face like an excited puppy, I shouted out to it: No,  it’s not the Irish landscape and seascape, it’s the social/political side of things.’

Tramore Bay. Co. Waterford
Tramore Bay. Co. Waterford

The main issue that was overwhelming me with shame was the fact that as country we seemed to be about as uncaring as it gets in the way we have handled a terrible, terrible fire on a halting site in which ten members of the travelling community lost their lives on October 10th. The second funeral of five members of one family was held yesterday and there was fighting and bickering going on about where the grieving relatives were going to be accommodated. Where were they going to go when they returned from burying a young couple and three of their five children?  The very idea that any human being in Ireland should have to devote even a moment’s thought to such a question while overwhelmed by grief seemed to me to have crossed a line that I hoped I would never, ever see in this country of mine.

The second issue is clearly qualitatively different in terms of magnitude and basically belongs to the sporting world. However, I found it incredibly frustrating and, indeed sad, that arguably the best coach in Ireland’s sporting history, boxing coach Billy Walsh, had essentially been forced out of the country by what seems like small-minded backwardness that one would like to think has no part in Irish sport.  As I was swimming, he was en route to the US to take up a new post. I could only imagine how disappointed and disillusioned he must have been feeling …..

The big bash for the Irish Blog Awards was on last night. I wasn’t in attendance but had my fingers crossed for my entry in the ‘Best Blog Post’ Category. It was the one about the Accident and Emergency Crisis in Ireland, something that matters hugely to every man, woman and child in this country, whether we like it or not.  Alas, it didn’t win BUT I can say, with hand on heart, that I am delighted that the winning post is one which addresses yet another social issue and Irish attitudes. It relates to gay marriage and is very much about the way in which Ireland CAN broaden her vision and open her heart.

Yes, Anne Marie O’Conner, All We Need is Love. Hearty Congratulations!

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

28 thoughts on “The ‘Best Blog Post,’ Ireland and Me”

  1. Hmm, what is a “travelling community” ? I suppose that “best blog post in Ireland” would depend a lot on expectations. The plight of the LGBT community, the poor, the disenfranchised, the mentally and physically challenged – these are all problems that are ubiquitous: not unique to any society, they are human problems. Don’t get me wrong, they are important problems and require investigation,study, public awareness, etc. That said, I am not convinced that posts written on these topics should be considered for the best blog in Ireland. Perhaps there should be a category for the best blog post addressing social ills – that would be a fine category.

    Honestly Jean, when I read your posts – which are very diverse in content – I get a feeling for Ireland; what it means for you to live, work and play as an Irish citizen of considerable heritage. The people, the land, the weather, the culture, etc- all of it rolled into one blog. To my mind Jean, your blog should be the winner of the best blog in Ireland and there should be other categories separating out those fine posts by Irish writers that address other Irish concerns, like social ills.

    1. Hi Paul, many thanks for your kind words about Social Bridge. I really appreciate them.
      The ‘travelling community’ is the accepted name here in Ireland for a minority group of people who were at one point all nomadic and who have a strong cultural heritage. These days some are ‘settled’ in houses whilst others live in caravans either on serviced or unserviced ‘halting sites.’

  2. This country’s political elite disgust me. They have given up on social housing because they are not interested in the less well off. A lot of those preening around in Leinster House hadn’t an arse in their trousers once upon a time and they have forgotten where they come from.
    As for people not wanting to live beside Travellers – that is more complex. Something is going to have to be done to bring the communities closer together a la Northern Ireland. But remember, one of the first victims of the recession were Traveller Training Centres – we don’t care enough.

    1. Hi John, your turn of phrase in this comment made me smile!
      I agree that something will definitely have to be done to bring the communities closer together and your reference to Northern Ireland is certainly pertinent.
      Yes, the recession has told us a lot about priorities here.

  3. Would a traveling community be something like Gypsies?..It’s too bad how because of ones backround certain reactions can be found..shame on those who participate negatively. I’m sure the coach will hopefully find a well deserved fulfilled life over here, but of course his heart will be in Ireland. And lastly even though you didn’t win, you got recognition and will always be a winner with us.

    1. Hi Joni, yes ‘back in the day’, Travellers would have been commonly called ‘gypsies.’ The latter is a term not used here now.

      Many thanks for your support of the blog and I’m sure that the boxing coach will be very well received by you people in America.

  4. To take Jonibee’s line…….you didn’t win, you got recognition and will always be a winner with us. It is not about winning but the impact you have on your readers. I know you have had an impact on me.

    1. Thanks you kindly, Joseph. Winning and losing wasn’t of major importance to me at a personal level. However, I would have liked to see that particular post in the limelight as the state of our accident and emergency services is a cause of huge concern and needs to be firmly in the limelight so this might have given it another little push.

  5. Jean

    I am hoping that there are probably many people in Ireland like yourself who feel the same horror and shame connected with the fire and the death of those families (and I don’t want to think about the upcoming football matches). They (the people) might not know how to express their opinions publicly but all it takes is one…like yourself, and say those people involved in the gay marriage debate. It’s people like yourself that raise the issues and get everyone talking. Small underground movements, with the right people can grow into something wonderful…people power.

    Yes, life is interesting sometimes isn’t it? Our, dare I call them that…politican’s recent rorting scandals plus a number of other issues really got me to the point of anger and I wanted to something positive with it. So, I started writing protest poetry…not good eough to share yet but next year…

    You certainly got my vote and I look forward to your posts everyday…I love to see the Ireland you see and I would miss it if you stopped or changed. I hope you don’t feel too disillusioned about the whole voting thing…we know you are fantastic and what’s more, we respect you. But…I know what rejection feel like…I submitted a story to the publishers for consideration. They said if they respond within 4 weeks then you will hear more. But it’s been weeks longer than that now so I guess I’m back to the drawing board. But…there is always the next project and I must finish my current one.

    Take care…take heart…we love you:)
    Olga

  6. I too was shocked and saddened by the horrible deaths. Don’t blame your country, everything that happens is a result of somebody’s wrong decisions, not the country in general.

    1. Many thanks for writing. Yes, the deaths were absolutely tragic.
      I think there is an element of collective responsibility in all this and, as John says above, it is definitely time for work on all sides for better relations between the settled and the travelling communities here.

  7. You still have my vote too, Jean. I went to the awards night but I didn’t meet a soul. It was indeed a big bash – the venue was jammed and about 60% of us didn’t even get seats, so I had no idea if any bloggers I know were there.

  8. What a very powerful and heartfelt post! This was one of the best posts I have read in a long time. It is a privilege to have access to your thoughts and writings, your photos and your incisive mind. Keep up the good work..to me you are a champion blogger, champion for those who have been bereaved, champion for those who are less well off, champion for those who society forgets or overlooks. 😀

  9. You are an amasing woman, Jean. I will echo Inesphoto’s comment about not blaming your beautiful country (which I will see one day!) but the politicians and people in positions of means to do something about any of these types of situations. Sad story indeed.

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