“No country in the world, in the history of the world, has endured the haemorrhage which this island endured over a period of a few years for so many of her sons and daughters. These sons and daughters are scattered throughout the world, and they give this small island a family of millions upon millions who are scattered all over the globe, who have been among the best and most loyal citizens of the countries that they have gone to, but have also kept a special place in their memories, in many cases their ancestral memory, of this green and misty island.” - JFK, Dublin Airport, 1963
Sentiment and emotion have been a huge driver of overseas purchases from Rare Irish Stuff over the past 14 years. Clients purchase items as a way of connecting with their culture, ethnicity and heritage. There is a hunger for such information as can be seen by the huge numbers that have been flocking to ancestral websites such as Ancestry.com in an attempt to trace their family tree. In our work, we personally find that some people sadly know very little about their ancestors or heritage. When an ancestor is known to a present generation only by name, discovering for instance an image of them can naturally have huge personal sentimental impact.
No matter how scanty, once roots have been traced, then very often a simple item such as a historical print of ones hometown or even a hand crafted piece from Ireland can contribute enormously to the client in strengthening a cultural connection and a real sense of personal identity. This often applies even if our clients have never even visited Ireland.
We are lucky enough in our work through both pub clientele and private overseas collectors to have the pleasure and opportunity of helping to connect members of the Irish Diaspora with items such as these. We share the feel good factor with the client as a result of this. We find this aspect of our work both motivational and hugely rewarding. This for us, undoubtedly illustrates that for many in the Irish Diaspora community, a palpable connection towards Ireland remains.
Over 80 million around the world claim Irish heritage. This is over 12 times the population of Ireland (6.6 million people in the whole 32 counties). The enormous spread of this Irish Diaspora is clearly the result of the huge emigration Ireland suffered. Irish emigration was born of famine with its resulting poverty together with the long eight hundred years of foreign occupation.
A massive 52 million Americans (1 in 4) have Irish ancestors or relatives while 32 Million Americans (1 in 10) claim ‘Irish’ as their primary ethnicity (*http://www.census.gov). The spread and influence of the Irish Diaspora is clearly evident in the United States today. US household names who claim Irish heritage include Bill Murray, John Travolta, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen and Will Ferrell. The Irish influence is also reflected in US made TV and film such ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, ‘Boondock Saints’, ‘Gangs of New York’, ‘The Irishman’, ‘The Departed’ and ‘Brooklyn’. The popular appeal and appetite in America for Irish made productions is evident too in the recent Oscar nominations. The Irish scooped a record 14 Oscar nominations, prompting jokes that the ceremony should be relocated from Los Angeles to Dublin! These nominations represent wonderful stories, told in different ways from a small island nestled at the edge of the Atlantic steeped in creativity, prose and character. The Banshees of Inisherin, which was nominated for nine awards, is set in the beautiful surrounds of Achill Island with the local pub playing a central role in the movie.
When it comes to U.S. presidents, including current President Joe Biden, exactly half (23 of all 46) U.S Presidents have had Irish roots. The White House itself was designed by James Hoban who was born and raised in Ireland and emigrated to the United States in 1785. Top American sports stars such as Tom Brady and influential players in all industries claim Irish roots. For such a small country, Ireland has left a massive footprint not only on the United States, but on the world. Many others emigrated to places as far flung as Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Chile, Mexico, Argentina and South Africa to name but a few.
Ireland’s uniquely beautiful emerald landscape, rich culture and ancient identity have created a distinctive image, which is much loved around the world. It has become an annual tradition to turn iconic landmark sites around the world green every year on St Patrick’s Day. As the saying goes, “everyone is Irish on St Patrick’s Day”! This surely is a testament to the worldwide appeal of this very small island nation. No other country has a national holiday honoured in this way. Most recently, a total of 690 iconic landmarks sites in over 66 different countries around the world went green.