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    ¡Feliz compleaños, Southern Cross! Oldest diaspora publication celebrates 135 years

    Friday, January 15th, 2010

    The oldest newspaper of the Irish diaspora, Argentina’s “Southern Cross” celebrates its 135th anniversary this month.

    The paper was founded in Buenos Aires on January 16, 1875 by Fr Patrick (Patricio) Dillon, an Irish missionary priest who later became active in politics.  At the time, the Irish community numbered only 9,000. Among its editors was the writer William Bulfin, author of ” Tales of the Pampas ” and “Rambles in Eirinn?. More recently, Guillermo MacLoughlin Bréard became the 14th editor, the youngest ever to take the position.

    The paper was published in English in 1964, when it switched to mostly Spanish, reflecting the changing language of the Irish population as it assimilated. Today the Argentinean-Irish community numbers around half a million.

    The Southern Cross is still going strong, with several new contributors, some of them based overseas. A special edition of the newspaper is in preparation, focusing on the history and accomplishments of the community.

    The achievement of 135 years is certainly to be celebrated! It’s a tribute to the community that it has supported the paper for so long. The oldest Irish paper in the US, New York’s Irish Echo, is a mere 81 years old.

    Here is the editorial that was published in “The Southern Cross? this month.

    135 YEARS

    With legitímate pride we celebrate our 135 years of existence as the oldest Irish newspaper in the world published outside of Ireland.  Not even our founder, Dean Patricio Dillon, way back on 16th January 1875, when The Southern Cross hit the streets, nor many of his successors, imagined we would surpass the XXI Century border to arrive at this celebration.

    During a more than centennial lifetime, our newspaper has known good and bad times, but all along it has managed to maintain unchanged its essential mission as a communicator of all events related to the local Irish-Argentine community, as well as of major developments occurring in Ireland and in Argentina.

    Moreover, The Southern Cross is the dean of catholic publications in this country as well as of community newspapers in Argentina.  Both distinction are an honour and strengthens our commitment to continue the strenuous task of spreading Christian ideals as well as the most noble republican convictions and unconditional defense of freedom of expression.

    Throughout the years we have learned to adapt to technical changes, incorporating modern composition and printing technologies, as a result of which our newspaper is widely recognized by its quality and contents, thanks to the hard work of a valuable team.

    This significant anniversary finds us in the middle of a journalistic renewal process, with the inclusion of new contributors and additional subjects, though unfortunately facing financial difficulties that obstruct our daily task.  However, with new ideas, with the support of loyal subscribers and generous advertisers, together with the performance of highly professional staff added to the eager dedication of all members of the board of Editorial Irlandesa S.A. we are confident in our ability to stay afloat and reach a safe harbour following the guidelines outlined in our editorial “New Directions? (May 2009).

    This celebration belongs to all of us.  We renew our commitment with the entire community and pray to the Almighty and to Saint Patrick for their continued guidance in this noble task.  Let it be!

    Related sites:

    First history of Irish in Vermont published

    Monday, January 11th, 2010

    The first-ever book on the history of the Irish in Vermont has been published, authored by historian Vincent E. Feeney. “Finnigans, Slaters and Stonepeggers: A History of the Irish in Vermont,” examines the Irish experience in the state from the 1760s through the twentieth century.

    Feeney says the Irish stayed in their ethnic ghetto for over a century, before the community assimilated in the later years of the twentieth century. The Times-Argus carries a review.

    (Images From the Past, 2009, 250 pages, $19.95 paperback)

    Related web pages:

    Donegal publishes latest for global community

    Friday, November 13th, 2009

    Donegal County Council has published the latest edition of its wonderful newsletter, “Donegal – Community in touch”.

    As usual, lots of great stuff! Included are reports on:

    • The launch of “The Fid”, the Moville Emigrant Monument, commemorating the thousands of Irish who went to New Brunswick, as well as a schools programme linking schoolchildren in Moville and New Brunswick
    • The MacGill summer school and a related publication
    • The Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce and the School of Tourism at Letterkenny Institute of Technology
    • the first-ever reunion of Falcarragh people from home and abroad
    • a new social organisation called Go Irish Boston, comprised of Irish and Irish-American people
    • the launch of Fado, a memoir by Irish-American musician Kevin O’Donnel, the child of Donegal immigrants.

    There is much more here – it’s a great collection of news and resources that will be of interest to Donegal people at home and abroad. If only more counties would produce such resources – this is a model that would be very useful throughout Ireland.

    Read the publication online on the Donegal County Council website.

    Oral histories

    Friday, July 24th, 2009

    There has been a wonderful trend in recent years of collecting emigrants’ oral histories. Many of those contributing their memories are elderly, and these books, films and websites are an invaluable record of the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people, many of whom have extraordinary stories. Know of any other oral history projects? Drop me a line or fill in the comment box…


    Irish Oral History Archivea reference archive and resource for the contemporary and historical spoken narratives of Irish people at home and abroad, especially as they relate to the story of emigration. Luton Irish Forum – a variety of individuals detail their moves to England

    I Only Came Over For a Couple of Years… 2005 – Interviews with Irish elders in England who arrived between the 1930s and 1960s. (Half-hour documentary, £7 plus postage and packaging)

    Irish Elders Now project

    Dunne, Catherine. An Unconsidered People: The Irish in London. Dublin: New Island, 2003 – a book detailing the experience of older emigrants.


    A story to be told: Personal Reflections on the Irish emigrant experience in Canada (book)

    Memories of the Past: Reflections from Ottawa’s Irish Drop-In group – a collection of memories and recipes

    United States

    Archives of Irish America – Interviews with a range of notable people in the New York Irish community, discussing their life history and sense of identity.

    When Mem’ry Brings Us Back Again – the stories of 35 people who moved to New York between 1927- 1964. Available as both book and DVD.

    An Irish (American) Story (film, 1997) – The 96-year-old grandmother of the filmmaker recalls her emigration as a 17-year-old in 1911.

    The Gathering: Collected Oral Histories of the Irish in Montana – Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, this project is based in the University of Montana.

    Irish Dance in Arizona – Tracing the history of Irish dance in the American southwest since 1942.

    Crossroads Irish Oral History Project Archives of the San Francisco Bay Area – Funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the project looks at the Irish and Irish-American communities of the San Francisco Bay area.

    Molloy College – documenting the Irish of Long Island and the greater New York area.

    University of Notre Dame – Director of Notre Dame’s Department of Anthropology Deb Rotman is working on a developing an online archive of Irish-American oral histories.


    The National Library of Australia – has a number of Irish-related recordings in its oral history catalog.

    New Zealand

    National Library of New Zealand – has several oral history collections; contact them for Irish-related materials.

    Global and Irish-based

    GAA Oral History Project – recording what the GAA has meant to the Irish people, in their own words.

    Breaking the Silence: Staying at home in an emigrant society – examines the impact of emigration on those who stayed through 78 oral narratives and 12 text contributions.

    Returning to Ireland

    Narratives of Migration and Return – Stories of returning emigrants

    Coming Home: “Stories of young men and women who left Ireland and, after many years in exile, closed the circle of emigration by coming home again? – produced by the Safe Home project – also see their True Lives page.

    New books published: “After the Flood” on post-war Irish America, “Musical Traditions of Northern Ireland and its Diaspora”

    Friday, July 17th, 2009

    Two books published this week will surely be of interest to scholars of the Irish diaspora.

    “After the Flood: Irish America 1945-1960”, edited by James Silas Rogers and Matthew J. O’Brien, takes a fresh look at the Irish-American experience during the post-war period. The publishers say:

    The essays in this volume examine diverse aspects of the Irish-American community during the postwar years and cover both the immigrant community within the US – which witnessed a surge in immigration from Ireland – and the subsequent expressions of an Irish identity among later generation ethnics. Essays consider both social and political history, such as ethnic anti-communism and American responses to Partition, and significant representations of Irish life in popular culture, such as The Last Hurrah (1956) or The Quiet Man (1952). The study shows that the Irish-American community was lively and, in many ways, dissimilar from “mainstream” American life in this period. The supposedly deracinated descendants of earlier immigrants were nonetheless well aware that the larger culture perceived something distinctive about being Irish, and throughout this period they actively sought to define – often in deflected ways – just what that distinctiveness could mean.

    “The Musical Traditions of Northern Ireland and its Diaspora: Community and Conflict” is as much about the North’s cultural dynamics as it is about the music itself. From the publishers:

    For at least two centuries, and arguably much longer, Ireland has exerted an important influence on the development of the traditional, popular and art musics of other regions, and in particular those of Britain and the United States. During the past decade or so, the traditional musics of the so-called Celtic regions have become a focus of international interest. The phenomenal success of shows such as Riverdance (which appeared in 1995, spawned from a 1994 Eurovision Song Contest interval act) brought Irish music and dance to a global audience and played a part in the further commoditization of Irish culture, including traditional music.

    However, there has up to now been relatively little serious musicological study of the traditional music of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland remains a divided community in which traditional culture, in all its manifestations, is widely understood as a marker of religious affiliation and ethnic identity. Since the outbreak of the most recent ‘troubles’ around 1968, the borders between the communities have often been marked by music. For example, many in the Catholic, nationalist community, regard the music of Orange flute bands and Lambeg drums as a source of intimidation. Equally many in the Protestant community have distanced themselves from Irish music as coming from a different ethnic tradition, and some have rejected tunes, styles and even instruments because of their association with the Catholic community and the Irish Republic. Of course, during the same period many other Protestants and Catholics have continued to perform in an apolitical context and often together, what in earlier times would simply have been regarded as folk or country music.

    With the increasing espousal of a discrete Ulster Scots tradition since the signing of the Belfast (or ‘Good Friday’) Agreement in 1998, the characteristics of the traditional music performed in Northern Ireland, and the place of Protestant musicians within popular Irish culture, clearly require a more thoroughgoing analysis. David Cooper’s book provides such analysis, as well as ethnographic and ethnomusicological studies of a group of traditional musicians from County Antrim. In particular, the book offers a consideration of the cultural dynamics of Northern Ireland with respect to traditional music.

    For more information:

    Donegal newsletter a splendid example of global outreach

    Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

    The Donegal Diaspora Project has published its latest newsletter online. “Donegal – community in touch” is a Donegal County Council initiative to keep in touch with the Donegal diaspora, and is a splendid model for a county-level global outreach.

    Some sample articles:

    • Soccer legend Packy Bonner talking about his “Donegalitis”, an illness he has no desire ever to receive treatment for.
    • Information on MacGill Summer School
    • News of Donegal-born doctor being named GP of the year in Australia
    • Donegal participation in Brussels’ first St Patricks Day parade
    • Reports on publications focusing on Donegal emigration, the Flight of the Earls, GAA

    It’s a lively mix of business, culture, social and community news. Highly recommended.

    The Donegal Diaspora Project, a joint effort by the Donegal County Council and Derry City Council, is aimed at people living and working in other parts of the country or the world who wish to return to work or set up a business, or support development in the NorthWest region.

    Related web pages:

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