Dan Gore founded the University of Pittsburgh chapter of Students for Obama two years ago, and spent the time since then running a massive drive to get the university vote out. The response was enormous in Pittsburgh, just as it was nationwide, but now that the campaign has given way to the administration, it’s not clear whether the mass political mobilization can be sustained. Dan reflects on the winding down of the campaign, the start of Obama’s time in Washington, and his own political future.
As the Troubles have petered out, Irish-American groups find themselves in a difficult new landscape. Funds for cross-Atlantic programs have dried up, the Walsh Visa program has reached its end, and the groups have to redefine their missions to match the new political reality of Northern Ireland.
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, with its president Jim Lamb, is taking this transition in stride. It remains one of the most active Irish-American groups in sponsoring exchange programs, and it’s expanding its focus to include new ventures to promote links between Pittsburgh and Ireland. The Institute aims to contribute to community developmenton both sides of the sectarian divide, and to export the lessons it has learned to other deeply divided societies.
Sam May took an interest in Northern Ireland young. A history buff in school, he participated in Civil War re-enactments and ended up in the 69th Pennsylvania Infantry, a regiment that had been made up of Irish immigrants. His fellow re-enacters introduced him to Irish Rebel songs and Republican ideology — but at the same time Sam was conflicted. He had family links to Ireland — but to Protestant Ireland in the North.
Out of this confusion, Sam started to read up on Irish history, and it led him to Tony Novosel’s class at Pitt. But studying the Troubles hasn’t necessarily made it any easier to stake out opinions about what’s best for Northern Ireland.