Sunday, March 17, 2013

Haitians and Irish

A couple of weeks ago, my mom, cousins, son, and I went to an exhibit, the Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration  and Settlement in McLean Country. The exhibit is in the McLean Country Museum of History in downtown Bloomington. Some of my relatives--the Killians and the Larkins--were featured in the exhibit--my great aunt Julia Larkin talking about the nuns teaching them Latin at their boarding school and my great grandparents P.J. and Nellie Killian and their six strapping sons.

But why I want to mention this Irish exhibit on my Haiti blog and on St. Patrick's Day, no less, is because it reminded me how much the Irish are like the Haitians. To wit:

Haiti and Ireland are both island nations.

The Irish language, sometimes called Gaelic, and Haitian Creole were both spoken languages before they were written languages. Both languages are tinged with poetry.

The Irish are supersitious; so are the Haitians.

They are both big lovers of music, parties, and hooch.

Both countries were terribly oppressed by a colonial power.

Both the Haitians and the Irish fled the terrible hunger of their countries on boat. Many of these boats turned into coffin ships.

Ireland and Haiti are Catholic countries filled with people who are devout in their belief in God. Sometimes it's been all they had.

Of course, Haiti is much closer to the pain of her history (i.e. it isn't history) than is Ireland.

I'll close with a great quote from the movie "The Commitments." Just substitute Haitians for blacks.

"Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: 'I'm black and I'm proud.'"

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