When I look out over the Cliffs of Moher, one of my favourite places on this earth, I think about how difficult it must have been for those forced to leave such a place of beauty, the land of their ancestors, and I am very grateful that none of my ancestors were forced to make such a decision.
What is it that those bound to emigrate away from Ireland thought about as they looked out over the sea? What was in their hearts? What kind of life did they hope would be waiting for them away from Ireland's shores? As we view these images and read the poem, 'The Emigrant Irish' by Eavan Boland, we have the opportunity to take a moment to contemplate what many Irish had to face, and we can be grateful for every wonderful moment given to us on this earth.
'The Emigrant Irish'
Like oil lamps, we put them out the back——
of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then
a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:
they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:
Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.
And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.
Copyright ©1990 by Eavan Boland from Outside History
(This post originally appeared in 2012)
Click on photographs to view larger version.