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.
It’s Part 2 of the continuing series on American perspectives on the conflict in Northern Ireland. This time it’s Kelly Cullen, a senior at Pitt and a marine reservist, who explains why he took such an interest in the Troubles + what he learned from studying it.
Partly it’s a heritage thing for Kelly, having grown up in an Irish American family. But his interest in Northern Ireland also grows out of his impending deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, and his creative writing projects.
Terri Hooley, purveyor of the Good Vibrations record shop in Belfast, and the man who released The Undertones’ “Teenage Kicks” talks about the evolution of the music scene in the city. Even as his contemporaries abandoned Northern Ireland for less bombs and more culture, Terri stuck to the city. From Them + Van Morrison playing the Martime Hotel in the 1960s, through the coming of punk with shouts of SS RUC, to the current crop of young Belfast talent, he walks us through his unprofitable, trouble-making, fame-brushing career.
Caroline Dunne talks from her home in North Belfast about the practice of Reiki. She has been practicing it for many years, having been trained in the US and then moved to Belfast to live & work here for the past 6 and a half years. Caroline had been a hair stylist before, but then switched into holistic therapies, with reiki being one of her favorite to practice. Reiki is unlike a traditional body massage — with less touching, more silence, and a focus on chakras and crystals. In today’s episode, she explains what reiki is exactly & who is attracted to it. Caroline also discusses what the reaction has been in North Belfast and the city at large to reiki, as well as what it can offer to people (including skeptics of it), and why she enjoys it so much.