Top stories from Irish Times Abroad this week
We're reading and writing about heatwaves, polar vortexes, and St Brigid's Day celebrations
Wind chills fell as low as -50 degrees in Chicago on Thursday. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Could St Brigid’s Day provide the world with an alternative celebration of Irishness to St Patrick’s Day? A new international festival is taking place from London to Warsaw to Washington this weekend, celebrating the talent and creativity of Irish women, with panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions and film screenings planned in six cities in Europe and five states in the US. Find out more here.
The world’s weather has swung from one extreme to another in the past 10 days, depending on what side of it you are living. A polar vortex has hit North America, plummeting temperatures to record-low levels; Irish Times Abroad readers in Chicago, Toronto and other affected areas have been sharing what it feels like to experience such cold: “Your skin turns into alligator skin before it cracks. Your nose bleeds. Your fingers feel like they’re touching a stove burner on high.”
Meanwhile in Australia, it’s about 70°C warmer and “face-meltingly hot”, according to our readers there. Bushfires are raging in Tasmania, where Philip Lynch is on high alert; his timber home will be in danger if the fires advance much further.“Surrounded by stringybark gum trees that we’ve come to treasure which could now be our nemesis, our nerves frayed, we wait and listen to the news bulletins, desperately hoping we will avoid the catastrophe of losing our home.”
There was great news for the London Irish Centre this week, which is to receive £1 million (¤1.15m) from the Irish Government to turn its premises into a world class facility, to continue to serve the “diverse needs of London’s Irish community”, young and old.
An open letter to Josepha Madigan from 300 theatremakers recently called for improved standards and support for Irish-based artists. But what about the generation that couldn’t stay in Ireland? London-based Irish playwright John O’Donovan, who felt forced to leave Ireland in 2009, argues that “a generation of emigrant artists risks having the door closed on them for the second time in a decade” if they are left out of the conversation.
In Emigrant Voices, Martin McGovern remembers Pat and Bella, who welcomed him in his early years in America in the 1980s ; Elizabeth Gowing shares her insider tips for visitors to her homeplace of Tirana in Albania ; while our Extraordinary Emigrant this week is Thomas Heazle Park, the first Irishman to cross Africa.
You’ll find plenty more stories by and about the Irish diaspora this week on irishtimes.com/abroad.
To receive this digest to your inbox each week, you can join the free Irish Times Abroad Network here.
Thanks for reading.