Irish President Visits Phoenix
Submitted by Irish Fireside listener Jim Sanford…
Yesterday, my wife Betty and I had the honor and the pleasure, I might add, to meet a most remarkable lady in Mary McAleese, the current President of Ireland. She addressed the crowd of about 300 people packed inside the Irish Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix and was both charming and humorous in a very personal way.
Her story is remarkable in that she was born and spent her early years in the Ardoyne section of Belfast, a staunch “Loyalist” bastion in Northern Ireland where Catholics were, to put it mildly, not wanted. They finally were forced out…machine gun fire to their house, beatings, threats, etc.
Mary eventually received her law degree from Queen’s University in Belfast where she later returned to become the first female pro-vice Chancellor of her alma mater. She also spent several years as a law professor at Trinity College in Dublin and was a journalist for a time as well.
After her address, she made her way around the gathering taking time to shake hands and say hello. Both Betty and I were fortunate to meet her. When I told her I had read where she was once told by their parish priest that she could never become a lawyer because she was a girl and her mother promptly pulled the chair out from under him and told him to leave, Mary winked with a smile, and held her finger to her mouth saying “shh, we don’t talk about that any more”.
We also met the Irish Ambassador to the U.S. and his wife, and they both were charming and friendly as well. Along with the music and dancing it was a nice experience. The only thing I missed was not having an Irish Coffee. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait for the holidays.
Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Love, Jim and Betty