Bringing home the 'Fighting Irish'
Sir, – Regarding Kathy Sheridan’s article about Martin Naughton and the upcoming Notre Dame vs Navy football game in Dublin (Weekend, August, 25th), we are told that Don Keough, former board chair at Coca Cola, “broke through the glass ceiling of No Irish Need Apply”. Mr Keough assumed his position 20 years after John F Kennedy was elected president, over 60 years after Al Smith was elected governor of New York, and at a time when – as is probably still the case today – having an “Irish name” is more of an asset than a liability in politics and in business.
Near the article’s end we read that among the couple of thousand Notre Dame students who have spent time in Ireland in the last few decades, many were “inspired by the sustained powerful voice of the Irish grandmother”. In fact, only a very tiny percentage of the students would have had an actual “Irish grandmother”. Much more typical would be students with one or two Irish immigrant ancestors four or five generations removed and with two or three non-Irish ancestral lines. In a sense Barack Obama may be a more typical Irish-American than any of the Kennedys of the president’s generation, none of whom, by the way, heard the voice of an Irish grandmother.
There is an Irish diaspora in North America and elsewhere, but it is a complex entity. – Yours, etc,