One of our most popular posts is on Fred Trump, outrageous, villainous, smiling agent of chaos much like his son.
But we never really thought about Trump’s mother. Mothers should be off limits maybe? Even Trumps have mothers. A hasty misreading of this Kellyanne Conway quote:
Got us to look into it.
Stunned to find Trump’s mother was a Gaelic-speaking immigrant from a remote Scottish island.
Hailing from the Outer Hebrides
She was raised in a Scottish Gaelic-speaking household with her second language being English, which she learned at Tong school where it was reported she was a star pupil. Mary attended the school up until the eighth grade. Her father was a crofter, fisherman and compulsory officer (truancy officer). According to one profile, she was “brought up in an environment marked by isolation, privation and gloom.”
Wow. She’s pretty much from the Iron Islands.
You can see her interviewed in 1994 on Irish television, RTé, here. She has an interesting accent. She speaks of her love of Irish and Scottish music.
She claims Trump is meeting Steven Spielberg?
I’ve developed a radical policy idea. This is my position paper.
The Republic of Ireland should take in two million refugees.
Here’s my case.
Ireland is empty
Seriously, walk around the place. There’s like nobody there.
Here’s Ireland overlaid on Pennsylvania:
Pennsylvania has 12.78 million people. Similar landscape and climate.
Ireland has 4.773 million people.
Ireland has fewer people today than it did in 1841.
What a wild fact. What other country is like that? Can we really trust that 1841 census?
My source here is the Central Statistics Office of Ireland:
Ireland is empty because people moved away.
There were all the people that died in the massive famine.
But post-famine emigration is really what depopulated Ireland. The whole story of Ireland is people moving away.
Even James Joyce looked for a life elsewhere.
The people of Ireland were themselves once refugees.
They weren’t always looked fondly on either.
They were considered to be dirty and dangerous fundamentalists from a scary religion.
Now look at them.
Says The Washington Post:
According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million).
That’s just the USA. There are something like two million Irish Australians and four millionish Irish Canadians.
What a great chance for Ireland to return the favor!
What a cool national mission for Ireland!
And remember, we’re just restoring Ireland to its historical population level.
Possible counter argument:
But that will destroy the unique national character of Ireland!
First of all, maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll adapt to it. Or, as immigrants have done everywhere, offer new foods, traditions, ideas, and stir themselves into an overall blend.
Second of all Irish culture is pretty darn resilient, there’s dudes in Southie three generations removed who’ve never visited the place who have shamrock tattoos and sing some fraction of the songs while they get drunk together.
Third of all Irish culture has been well-preserved already.
You can count on the Irish to do a solid preservation job.
(This song about boiling a policeman and spreading him like pavement is a fair example of Irish culture*.)
Frankly Irish culture could use a bit of a jolt.
Previous pinnacle of Irish culture?
Taking in two million refugees is a challenge.
But Ireland is up to it. This country is one of the best ever producers of nurses, caregivers, teachers, cops. It could be a a national project that would bring out the best in them.
In conclusion, Ireland should take in two million immigrants.
By the way, not asking Ireland to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. You could argue California has already taken in two million refugees. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet but I think we could take in a million more.
* I’m aware the song was written by a Scottish person
The UK: 65.64 million people. 93,629 square miles.
California: 39.25 million people. 163,996 square miles.
Ireland: 4.773 million people. 32,595 square miles.
In 1841 the population of Ireland (just counting what’s now the Republic, not the whole island) was 6.53 million.Ireland is like a ghost town.
Today’s radical policy suggestion:
Ireland should take in two million refugees. Much as the world once took them in. It’s time to return the favor. Two million refugees would return the nation to pre-1841 population.
Are there other countries where the population is significantly smaller today than it was around 1840?
(maps via the great site Overlap Maps which is run by Sunflower Education, a publisher of books for homeschoolers)
Just read this one.
It’s true. Bannon, as presented in this book, is funny. Makes it harder to dislike him.
At one point he describes Paul Ryan as
a limp-dick motherfucker who was born in a petri dish at the Heritage Foundation.
This vivid turn of phrase after speaking to an embattled Roger Ailes:
Bannon was surprised at his desperation. “He was babbling,” he later told an associate. “He was in the fucking mumble tank.”
Bannon’s key insight:
Monster, filthy, sick, beast – these are terms Bannon throws around as compliments, what bro doesn’t? But on the other hand he starts to sound a lot like a dark wizard delighting in his devil-powers as he launches demons at the world.
Anyway, fast, entertaining and insightful book.
Was interested in the perspective of Peter Schweitzer, who wrote Clinton Cash.
Could you argue the same about journalists and Trump? Both love Twitter.
A friend is going to Ireland to do some landscape painting. I’m like, amazing. Plus this is a guy who usually gets it with maps. One day I sit down at my desk which has under its top an Ordnance Survey map of the Dingle Peninsula.
And I’m like oh friend make sure you get the Ordnance Survey map for where you’re going!
Why, he says.
Look, the Ordnance Survey Ireland website doesn’t have the smoothest experience.
But the treasures within!
Ordnance Survey Ireland is headquartered in the Phoenix Park.
The origins of the Ordnance Survey lie in the aftermath of the last Jacobite rising which was finally defeated by forces loyal to the government at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Prince William, Duke of Cumberland realised the British Army did not have a good map of the Scottish Highlands to find the whereabouts of Jacobite dissenters such as Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat so they could be put on trial.
They just missed him here.
You don’t want to have a map that marks every stone row and holy well?
A map that shows the ancient druid stones and the ruined churches like something a wizard would have?
Some classic coverage from the Hely Times archive:
Try this ancient pickup strategy at the pub!
One thing leads to another and I’m reading about how there were black people on the Caribbean island of Montserrat who were said to speak Irish Gaelic:
Irish language in Montserrat
The Irish constituted the largest proportion of the white population from the founding of the colony in 1628. Many were indentured labourers; others were merchants or plantation owners. The geographer Thomas Jeffrey claimed in The West India Atlas (1780) that the majority of those on Montserrat were either Irish or of Irish descent, “so that the use of the Irish language is preserved on the island, even among the Negroes”.
African slaves and Irish colonists of all classes were in constant contact, with sexual relationships being common and a population of mixed descent appearing as a consequence. The Irish were also prominent in Caribbean commerce, with their merchants importing Irish goods such as beef, pork, butter and herring, and also importing slaves.
There is indirect evidence that the use of the Irish language continued in Montserrat until at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The Kilkenny diarist and Irish scholar Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin noted in 1831 that he had heard that Irish was still spoken in Montserrat by both black and white inhabitants. A letter by W.F. Butler in The Atheneum (15 July 1905) quotes an account by a Cork civil servant, C. Cremen, of what he had heard from a retired sailor called John O’Donovan, a fluent Irish speaker:
- He frequently told me that in the year 1852, when mate of the brig Kaloolah, he went ashore on the island of Montserrat which was then out of the usual track of shipping. He said he was much surprised to hear the negroes actually talking Irish among themselves, and that he joined in the conversation…
There is no evidence for the survival of the Irish language in Montserrat into the twentieth century.
The wiki page for Amhlaoibh has several interesting quotes:
“February 3, 1828 …There is a lonely path near Uisce Dun and Móinteán na Cisi which is called the MassBoreen. The name comes from the time when the Catholic Church was persecuted in Ireland, and Mass had to be said in woods and on moors, on wattled places in bogs, and in caves. But as the proverb says, It is better to look forward with one eye than to look backwards with two…“
Amhlaoibh lived out in Callan, in Kilkenny:
Nearby was born James Hoban, who designed The White House:
On a trip to DC once I brought along this book, which I recommend to any DC visitor:
Applewhite might’ve been the first to put in my head the idea that the The White House is modeled on Irish country mansions:
The entire southern half of Montserrat got pretty messed up by volcanic eruptions and was abandoned in 1997:
And is now an “exclusion zone”:
Montserrat’s national dish is Goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls.
for more interesting oddities of Western Hemisphere geography and history, I recommend: