Saturday, March 15, 2014

Blarney Blowout



What do the hypodermic needle, tractor, submarine, tank, periscope, stethoscope, caterpillar track,endoscope and first true steam turbine have in common? Well, they have the same thing in common with artificial fertilizer, nickel zinc rechargeable batteries, the ejector seat, the guided missile, and high speed photography. They were all invented by the Irish. In terms of science, the induction coil and the self-extracting dynamo changed the way we produced power. The Irish invented them. Boyle’s law, Stokes Parameters and the Beaufort Wind Scale? Named after their Irish inventors. 

In the realm of health care, the discoveries and inventions range from Milk of Magnesia, to ways to use Radium through Radon as a treatment for cancer. Irish scientists were responsible for treatments for Leprosy, as well. .  Irish scientists were the first to split the atom. An Irishman created the light pipe, paving the way for fiber optics. They created advances in seismology, physics, math, and health care.
Here in Massachusetts, we know what a tremendous role the Irish have played in society. Our government has been populated with Irish and Irish American from our present Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh, through the State House, in Washington and across Town Halls throughout the state and throughout our entire history. Many of our most successful elected officials are of Irish Descent. House Speaker Tip O’Neill and the Kennedy family are but a few. Their contributions to our government and way of life have not only shaped our society in Massachusetts but throughout the US. 

My point, obviously, is that the Irish played a very major role in science, literature, music, and government.  They should get credit for that. In fact, there may not be a society without the Irish or at least a world that looks very different. After the fall of Rome, it was Irish monks who traveled Europe at great personal risk to collect books and knowledge. They brought these back to Ireland where they kept language, literature and culture alive until they could reintroduce these to the rest of the world.

It is distressing that these accomplishments are not celebrated when we think of St Patrick’s Day.  It is not surprising that some students and locals around UMass Amherst celebrate the day with a “Blarney Blowout”. I stress some students,Most UMass Students are hard working and focused on studies.But events like this continue the stereotype of the Irish for the next generation. It is not just this incident. Walmart sold cheap t-shirts this year that had sayings such as “I’m not Irish, but I drink like I am” or “Blame the Irish for my behavior”. The fact that these retailers stereotype this holiday should be unacceptable to us all. Don’t get me wrong, I love an Irish pub song and a Guinness as much as the next person, but as proud as I am that the Irish have been selling Guinness since 1759, I am more proud that Trinity College has been educating and giving scholarships to students since 1592! (The Medical School was established in 1711 and the Center for Molecular Medicine just won an award for cell imaging).

The Irish helped build our infrastructure in America, our bridges and railroads. They fought in our wars, sometimes as their own regiment. They’ve bled for us, have formed philanthropic organizations to better our condition and have provided us with culture and more stories than we can ever hear. I only wish some students were celebrating that heritage and culture as they raised a pint.

More than the students, I am disappointed that in all the stories  I read about this Blarney Blowout, I haven’t read one response from school officials criticizing the depiction of the Irish embedded in the incident. I have read that the incident is bad for the university and that drunken behavior isn’t tolerated, but not one mention has been made over the depiction of the Irish. What a shame. The UMass campuses of Boston and Lowell actually have Irish studies courses. The Amherst campus doesn’t.  I am proud of my state university. My daughter received her degree there. However, their response to this should have been to create a campus event to educate students. They should have an event to celebrate the accomplishments of this proud and ancient culture that influenced the development of Europe as a counterbalance to the prevailing attitude that St Patrick’s Day is a drunken bash.

I hope everyone has fun on St Patrick’s Day. I hope you go out and lift a pint or two and listen to some Irish music in celebration of the day. But I also hope that you raise a glass and think of the many wonderful contributions of the Irish here and throughout the world. That’s the real celebration! Slainte!


7 comments:

MiddleboroRemembers said...

Good points!

It's always disappointing when an opportunity to teach is overlooked!

cleancut said...

Touche Dan well thought out. I totally agree.

An Anonymous UMass Grad (or escapee) said...

....not one mention has been made over the depiction of the Irish.

The reality is actually far worse -- sit through a "social justice" seminar or a "diversity" training and you will hear professorsand administrators depicting the Irish in terms far worse than just drunken louts -- although you'll hear plenty of that too.

Students are essentially taught that the only thing the Irish have to be proud of (other than being racist, sexist & homophobic) is being drunken louts -- it's the most politically correct college in the country and has been so for at least 20 years.

Psychologists will tell you that group identity and group pride is important to young people -- and if being proud fo being drunken louts is all you have -- well that is still something....

...

If you were to write what you did for a Freshman writing course -- notwithstanding the fact that it is (a) well written, (b) presents (I presume) accurate facts in support of a (c) perfectly defensible position -- notwithstanding all of this -- you would be lucky to only fail the course.

It's quite likely you'd get referred to the secret star chamber known as "ACT" and -- on a minimum -- you'd be forced to undergo a psych evaluation -- you'd be lucky to ever graduate.

Just for writing what you did.

I am not making this up -- I've seen stuff like this -- and worse -- actually happen. I've seen it happen enough times that I am actually writing a book about it -- and I call the place a purgatorial cesspool for a reason.

Dan, this isn't about a bunch of drunken kids doing something stupid -- it's a lot, lot, LOT more sinister -- a Federal Grand Jury would have a lot of things to look at should it ever focus on Planet UMass....

Anonymous said...

The murder of Adam Prentice and the disappearance (!) of Maura Murry come to mind as things a Federal Grand Jury could have some fun with...not to mention the "laundering" of Obama Stimulus Money, and the financial dealings behind UMASS doing upwards of three (3) involuntary psych commitments per day -- if not more -- simply "following the money" on that campus would be a really productive thing to do...

Attention any ambitious Federal Prosecutor -- Audit UMass Health Services -- just do it honestly and you'll find lots of fun things...

Anonymous said...

Block Ed now before he ruins your blog too.

Patricia Carter said...

It sounds more hilarious then it appears to be.
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Jenna Catlin said...

We should be thankful for the help the Irish provided.
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