Tomhas na Teanga

Cé gurb amhlaidh go mbíonn an dúlra ina namhaid dúinn uaireanta, mar a bhí leis na stoirmeacha uafásacha a tharla i mbliana, níos minice is cara, fiú máthair dúinn é.  Even though sometimes nature is our enemy, as it was with the terrible storms that happened this year, more often it is a friend, even a mother to us.  Agus go háirithe san earrach agus sa samhradh, bíonn deis againn taitneamh a bhaint as.  And especially in the spring and summer, we have a chance to enjoy it.  Stadaimis agus bolaímis na bláthanna, mar sin!  So let’s stop and smell the flowers!

Is caitheamh aimsire breá an gharraíodóireacht, agus táim cinnte go bhfuil garraithe thar barr ag a lán ball dár n-ord seo.  Gardening is a great hobby, and I’m certain that a lot of our order’s members have great gardens.  Níl an ceann atá againne chomh galánta.  The one we have isn’t so fine.  Tá plandaí éagsúla ann, an iomarca luifearnach ina measc…  There are various plants, too many weeds amongst them…  Ach táthar ag súil go bhfaighimid glasraí dár gcuid féin as.  It is hoped that we will get our own vegetables from it.  Agus dar ndóigh, tá bláthanna ann, freisin.  And of course, there are flowers, too.

Mura bhfuil spás nó am go leor agat chun do gharraí féin a chur is freastal air, is iomaí garraí pobail atá ann.  If you don’t have space or time to plant and attend to your own garden, there are lots of community ones.  Tá ceann ag mo pharóiste.  My parish has one.  Tugann scaifte daoine ón gcomharsanacht aire dó.  A group of people from the neighborhood tend it.  Ar mo shlí ón traein go dtí m’oifig i mBrooklyn, siúlaim thar cheann eile, ar leis an gcomharsanacht é.  On the way from the train to my office…I walk past another one, which belongs to the neighborhood.  Níl na cinn seo an-mhór, ach tá siad go deas agus cé nach n-ithim na glasraí, bainim taitneamh as na bláthanna agus an boladh deas atá orthu (agus ar na luibheanna, freisin).  These aren’t very big, but they’re nice and although I don’t eat the veggies, I enjoy the flowers and their nice smell (and that of the herbs, too).

Tá garraithe móra poiblí ann, freisin – crannlanna ina measc.  There are also big public gardens – including arboretums.  Bhí an aimsir go dian ar na crainn i mbliana, agus cailleadh roinnt mhór díobh, faraor, ach fós féin, mhair an chuid is mó díobh, agus is breá an rud é am a mheilt i measc na gcrann galánta éagsúil.  The weather was hard on the trees this year, and a lot of them were lost, alas, but just the same, most of them lived, and it a fine thing to while away the time in the midst of various noble trees.  Ar na sean eastáit ar Inis Fada i Nua-Eabhrac, cuireadh crannlanna agus gairdíní breátha, agus tá roinnt mhór díobh seo ina bpáirceanna poiblí anois.  On the old estates on Long Island in NY, arboretums and fine gardens were planted, and a lot of them are public parks now.

San earrach, thug mé cuairt ar ghairdíní Hershey in PA.  In the spring, I visited Hershey Gardens…  Bhí na tiúilipí faoi bhláth ag an am, agus b’iontach an radharc iad.  The tulips were in bloom, and they were a wonderful sight.  Tá na garraithe seo ar bharr cnoic, agus is féidir Hershey Park a fheiscint uathu.  These gardens are on the top of a hill, and you can see…from them.  Crannlann atá ann chomh maith, agus tá fiú crónghiúisí acu.  There’s an arboretum too, and they even have redwoods.  Tá cróghiúis na caomhaire againn sa bhaile.  We have a dawn redwood at home.  Tá a lán acu seo sa Bhablóin, ar Inis Fada, mar atá.  There are a lot of these in Bablyon, on Long Island, as it happens.  Ach tá na cinn ón gcósta thiar – Sequoiadendron gigantea – acu in Hershey.  But they have the ones from the west coast…  Níl siad chomh mór leis na cinn in California, ach tá siad mór go leor.  They’re not as big as the ones in CA, but they’re big enough.

Tá Garraithe na Lus (na luibheolaíochta) mór le rá againn sa Bhroncs (agus in áiteanna eile), i Nua-Eabhrac.  We have big Botanical Gardens in the Bronx (and in other places), in NY.  Agus tá a leithéid ann ar fud na tíre, más níos lú an chuid is mó díobh.  And there are similar ones all over the country, even if they are usually smaller.  In Éirinn, tá Garraithe Náisiúnta na Lus ann i nGlas Naíon, sráidbhaile ó thuaidh ó Bhaile Átha Cliath.  In Ireland, the National Botanical Gardens are in Glasnevin, a town north of Dublin. Tá an méid seo leanas (agus níos mó) fúthu le fáil ar an suíomh idirlín www.heritageireland.ie/ga: The following (and more) can be found on the website…:  “Bunaíodh Garraithe Náisiúnta na Lus sa bhliain 1795.”  The NBG were founded in… “Tá clú agus cáil orthu as na tiomsacháin bhreátha de phlandaí ina bhfuil breis is 17,000 de speicis agus de chineálacha plandaí as áiteanna ar fud fad na cruinne.”  They are famous for their fine collection of plants, which includes more than [15,000 sa leagan Béarla atá acu – tá sé difriúil ar fad!] species and kinds of plants from places all over the world.  “Tá cáil orthu de bharr na ngairdíní áille tírdhreachtaithe agus na dtithe gloine, go háirithe Raon Cuarlíneach Turner agus Teach na Pailme Móire, atá athchóirithe go fíor-ornáideach agus plandaí curtha iontu.”  They’re famous for the beautiful landscaped gardens and greenhouses, especially the Turner Curvilinear Range and the Great Palm House, which have been restored very ornately with plants planted in them.

Agus is iomaí gairdín eile atá ann i mBaile Átha Cliath agus ar fud Éireann agus ar fud Meiriceá.  And there are many other gardens in Dublin and all over Ireland and all over America.  Tabhair cuairt ar cheann nó dhó sa samhradh seo!  Visit one or two this summer!

A Compelling Story, a Great Honor

irishphiladelphia.com – reprinted with permission

 

Liz and Pearse Kerr

As a Catholic and a nationalist living in the Cliftonville neighborhood of North Belfast in the late 1970s, young Pearse Kerr was accustomed to being treated with suspicion and contempt—and often brutality. Orangemen forced his family out of their first home, threatening to burn it down. Out on the streets, British soldiers frequently stopped, questioned and searched him, even though they knew him by name and had stopped and questioned him many times before. Once, on his first day of high school, a soldier struck him with a rifle butt, knocking him over a wall.

He wasn’t even surprised when, in the early morning hours of August 18, 1977, British soldiers smashed the door of his house at 233 Cliftonville Road, rousted him out of bed and hustled him off to Castlerea Interrogation Center. Nor was he surprised by his treatment once he got there. “It might sound bad, and it was,” he says. “They broke my wrist, dislocated my neck, fractured a rib, choked me unconscious, and generally pushed me around… It was nothing out of the ordinary at the time. They beat me pretty good … but they didn’t kill me. It was well-known what was going on. It wasn’t shocking or anything. It was just part of life over there.”

Kerr spent three months in custody.  He was in Castlerea Interrogation Center for seven days and then transferred to Crumlin Road Prison.  All told, he was incarcerated from August 18 to November 26. Unlike many prisoners of the time, Pearse Kerr—named after the Irish nationalist and leader of the 1916 Easter Rising Pádraig Pearse—was an American. His parents Brendan and Betty Kerr, originally from the Falls Road in Belfast, had moved to Philadelphia in 1957. Pearse was born not long thereafter at Temple University Hospital. Given his status as a U.S. citizen, Kerr’s imprisonment triggered a huge backlash in the Philadelphia Irish community, and he was released thanks to the intervention of Daily News columnist Jack McKinney and Northeast Philadelphia Congressman Joshua Eilberg.

Kerr’s harrowing story, together with his continued activism here after his return to the States, rarely fails to move people who come to know him. Evidently, Kerr’s experience caught the attention of the committee organizing the 2011 Burlington County St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They recently named him their grand marshal.

Arguably, given that St. Patrick’s Day represents all things Irish, it was a good choice. Few local people could better symbolize Irish pride.

In Kerr’s household, that pride always came first. While living in the States, his father was one of the founding members of Irish Northern Aid and was active in Clan na Gael, another Irish republican organization.

“I was brought up with an Irish nationalist mindset, he says. “There’s no taking that away.” He also knew well that his first name stood for something. It certainly meant something to the British in Belfast, he says. “When that’s your name, spelled like that, they know exactly who you are.”

For Kerr, his time in prison left no lingering scars, but it did affect the way he looked at life: “It was maybe a solidification of what I was always taught.”

He also knows how lucky he was. Many prisoners were not nearly so fortunate. Even at the time of his release, he was uncertain what fate had in store for him. His jailers entered his cell, tossed a bag at him and ordered him to pack his clothes.

“Nobody said to me, you’re getting released,” he recalls. I thought I was being sent to Long Kesh (site of the 1981 Hunger Strike). They took me to a court in the city center. When I got to the courtroom, I was standing in the dock and, out in the foyer, I could see my father. And I knew I was going to be released.

“We got a taxi and we went to my grandmother’s house. The following day I flew to Philadelphia for a ‘Free Pearse Kerr’ rally … which I had the pleasure to attend.”

Even though he has been in the States for years, the experience still resonates, and his Irish pride continues to make itself known through his many local activities, including AOH Div 25.

That’s why the Burlington County honor means so much to him.

“I had no idea. I didn’t know I was in the running,” he says. “I was shocked, I really was. It’s such an honor to be chosen. I love Ireland and I love the AOH and I love the Irish republican movement. To be able to represent all that means the world to me.”