The Irish have always been good at leaving home. From the seventeenth century settlers in the West Indies, merchants, indentured servants and Cromwellian deportees, through the great flood of Ulster emigration to North America in the eighteenth century and continuing with the massive exodus of the Catholic Irish throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Irish people have left their mark, and their descendants, around the world.
Emigration has been a dominating feature of Irish life for almost four centuries, and has left us an unmistakeable legacy. The culture of loss and shame associated with it has only recently begun to weaken, as we have realized and celebrated the achievements of the Irish overseas, and their descendants. And this is part of, and partly a cause of, the broadening of the notion of Irishness that is now taking place within Ireland.
This acceptance of the Diaspora is part of the general growth in self-confidence of the Irish cultural identity in recent decades.
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall softly on your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.