Ireland 2023: Letters to the editor
On another important matter entirely, could it be the effect of global warming that I might have heard the first cuckoo of the year two weeks ago on the feast of St Fursa?
MARK PATRICK HEDERMAN
Ex-abbot of Glenstal Abbey.
What a difference a decade makes!
The Ireland Funds announced yesterday that that over €100 million has been raised from Irish-based donors in their latest campeign for great philanthropic projects all across the country. They cover a broad range of causes making a huge impact in local communities. Up to a decade ago most of their money was raised in the US and the worldwide Irish diaspora. Since then the Irish at home have joined to great effect. Support started growing during the recession of 2008-2014 and picked up significantly since then. Today a large number of Irish here actively support the funds and a number of other based foundations have been set up.
Jim Dunning, the captain of the All-Ireland winning Dubs team of 2023, spoke recently about how inspired he was when Bernard Brogan visited his youth club in the inner city in 2012. Bernard was a big star for the Dubs then and part of the Ireland Funds which supports the club. ?I was running with a pretty rough crowd getting into trouble. I had just joined the club when Bernard came in and showed such interest in us. He encouraged me to take up football. It gave me a self confidence and belief I never had and I never got into trouble again.
The number of Young Leader groups reached double figures last week with the opening of the Waterford chapter. The ten Irish groups (comprising 25-40 year olds) join the 60 other chapters worldwide whose donors work with a wide range of the Ireland Fund vetted projects. ?We have big plans for Waterford and what we can do with projects in our area. It?s great not to have to travel to Dublin, Cork, Limerick or wherever but to have our own group here.? When asked why she got involved, the leader of the group responded ?It?s just become part of my daily life. I get an education. Looked for a good job. Had my friends and interests and then involved in the network to help the community. And its great fun too!?
A feature of the recent corporate earnings season was the focus on community and social involvement projects. ?Our earnings have remained solid over the past two years but management and employees felt we had been a bit light on our social responsibilities over the same period?, said one leading CEO last week. ?Happily we have addressed that this year and both the number of employees engaged in community projects and our financial contributions have increased significantly. This has had a clear impact on employee morale and performance in addition to pride in our company.?
Some interesting Irish start-ups which had been sold over the past year have seen their owners join the Ireland Funds and other foundations as donors. ?We saw some wonderful Irish Americans make amazing contributions when we were growing up. It?s great for us Irish to be doing it now as well.?
They start them young now. We saw the recent story of the school where mothers give their eight-year-old daughters three euro a week. She spends one euro on herself. The second is saved and the third is given to a good cause of her choosing. ?She really has gotten into it,? explained one mother. ?Hopefully it will just become part of her normal life and one day she can make a big difference. She learnt in history lesson last week that a famous English prime minister called Margaret Thatcher had said `There is no such thing as society?. She came home and said `It?s amazing that even famous people say such silly things?!?
As I am sure your readers will have noticed we are now surrounded by a well-rounded, well-educated, entrepreneurial generation of Irish young people who actively give back to society ?. and quite frankly, it?s just not good enough!
With all the positive things that have happened over the last ten years, if the older generation cannot complain about ?the youth of today? then what, I ask you, is left for us to complain about. Personally, I lay the blame for this sorry state of affairs on those people 10 years ago who, in times of economic crisis, took this nation?s entrepreneurial talent and used it to develop solutions that were not about making money but about making a difference. These so-called ?social entrepreneurs? apparently went on to address many of the entrenched social and environmental challenges Ireland faced and, in so doing, inspired a whole generation.
If this keeps up it will only be that perennial Irish favourite, the weather, that will keep us malcontents going! ? Yours, etc,
Social Entrepreneurs Ireland
The Arthur Guinness Fund is celebrating its 14th anniversary. To date the Fund has awarded upwards of €14 million to social entrepreneurs working to improve their local communities. Who would have thought it?
Fourteen years ago. in 2009, when the Irish economy was in freefall, it was hard to imagine that we could ever return to sustainable economic growth and full employment.
But at that time, during one of the darkest periods in our recent history, the seeds of change were being sowed, not just of economic recovery, but also the means to deliver a positive transformational impact on Irish society.
Back in 2009, few people had heard of social entrepreneurship ? in 2023 there are few people in this country who haven?t benefited greatly from it.
Diageo is incredibly proud to have been there at the start of that journey ? when it founded the Arthur Guinness Fund in 2009 to support social entrepreneurs. The combined impact of the hard work undertaken by these philanthropically-minded individuals and the support of the fund has effected an immensely positive change in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
From schemes such as Hireland that help the unemployed to find work, to education initiatives that improve quality of life and schemes that promote education, the fund awardees have played a significant part in returning Ireland to full employment.
Looking back on the foundations of the fund long ago in 2009, I am encouraged to think of the optimism and vision that characterised those early awardees in a time when Ireland needed a more positive outlook. Even in the first three years of the fund, we were beginning to see the enormous benefits to society being wrought by social entrepreneurs it was supporting.
The first 30 groups had a direct positive impact on 105,445 people. They employed
120 full time employees, 175 part time employees, 45 full time volunteers and 1,797 part-time volunteers.
In the dark days of the early part of the last decade when unemployment in Ireland was at 14 per cent and optimism was all too scarce, nobody predicted the remarkable transformational impact that the work of the social entrepreneurs would have on Irish society.
As we celebrate the 14th anniversary of the fund and think about all we have accomplished, I am taken aback by just how much individuals with passion for a better world can achieve.
Diageo Ireland (2023)
I remember when we approached your paper 10 years ago to produce a different kind of supplement, one that was full of good news and looked to a brighter future for Ireland. I had just finished college and like most of the young generation was forced to emigrate to the US to find work. Luckily I have dual citizenship, with both American and Irish passports. My dad like myself emigrated in the 1980s for the same reason and met my American mother and moved back to the emerald Isle to start their family.
It is fantastic to see the tables turned. Now Americans are coming to Ireland in droves. I run my own business ?American Irish? (AI), which allocates Americans ?Jayz 1? visas for US citizens to gain world class work experience in our booming economy. We have already reached our yearly quota of 20,000 visas and have been asked to petition Irish Government for a doubling of this amount next year.
I will be return home to start a family when the time is right. Until then I am just so proud that Ireland has come so far.
To the next ten years!
Original Member of the Hireland Movement