At home, abroad, on St Patrick’s.

I always say I can grow anywhere away from home, a little like a container plant. But where home is these days, I’m not really sure. But, having said that, I’m pretty sure I also haven’t yet found it. The world is too big, and I have more places to see, live in, and to write about.

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There are none so patriotic as the Irish abroad. We love to sit in Brooklyn or Birmingham, Bangkok or Brighton, and sing a rebel song whilst silently weeping into a pint. Re-runs of Father Ted and Mrs Brown’s Boys only get funnier with time, and we long for the sweet scent of the Oul’ Sod. The Fields of Athenry are sung with passion, and the free bird is allowed to fly at the big games.

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But, wait just a minute. How many of us know where the heck Athenry actually is?  (It’s Galway, lads, catch up) As for all the words – feck it, any of the words – to The Soldier’s Song, in English or as Gaeilge, I think not.But the 17th of March, now, that’s a different thing altogether. Everyone is Irish on St Paddy’s day.

It’s been 30 years since I spent St Paddy’s at ‘home’ in Ireland, and this year I looked forward to it.Well, I pondered it anyway, as I suffered a ride on the hard plastic seat  over to Dublin, complete with Zebedee behind me.

Childhood was green ribbons, mass, a Sunday-style  dinner, and the Big Parade. Trips home, later on and then with my husband,  were made up of a fortune spent in Kenny’s, Courtney’s and The Ball Alley, all local village watering holes. A blur of pints and laughs, smoke filled bars and quick wit, shirts lost at Cheltenham from the comfort of the pub, big breakfasts at my parent’s house – “to line your stomach “- and dinner kept warm and served with a thump – we were always late back.

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This year, I wandered down alone, stone cold sober, and stood for a bit under Carroll’s awning until the drizzle became a bit of a drip, then gave up and came home to watch the Dublin parade with Mother, where several dozen times we cleared up the facts that, yes, it was still Friday, and no, St Patrick’s is not a movable feast. Testing times? A bit. But, it’s okay, we’re alright.

The city centre parade was beset by horizontal rain, high winds and arctic temperatures. But, you know, everyone was smiling, enjoying it, and the Temple Street bar area held the riotous after party, if the Live Web Cam was anything to go by. We enjoyed it all, in our own way, from the safety of the sofa, and the furnace-like blast of the central heating.

It seems nothing stops us. We love a little adversity. And, I thought, no, I may not know where home really is, or what the future holds, but I’ll always, emphatically, be completely Irish!

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Walk this way. If you’re Jewish.

Fences at Ceuta and Melilla may be impenetrable to fleeing immigrants, but the Spanish borders there and on the mainland look set to come down for the once-banished Sephardic communities from around the world.

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Unwanted guests

Kicked out by Ferdinand and Isabel back in 1492, it looks as though the host country is having a re-think of the guest list.

The option of converting to Catholicism, leaving their homeland, or dying wasn’t much of a choice for the Jewish community in Spain back then, and most left, eventually scattering all around the world.

A time of great importance,  as the expulsion of the Jews also became a turning point in the history of Spain.

So, what’s changed?

On October 2nd, tomorrow, Spain begins reviewing citizenship rights to the relatives of those who lost their homes and homeland back in the 15th century.  It’s all thanks to the passing of LAW 12/2015 earlier this year, which grants citizenship to relatives of Sephardic Jews.  Under this law, the relatives of the formerly displaced Jews will not have to actually visit a sun, sand, or Sangria Costa to take advantage of the changes.  All they need to do is hire a notary, and pass a couple of tests on language and history.  We can presume they’re well versed in the latter.

Where are they now?

The majority of new citizenship titles are expected to come from Morocco, Venzuela, and Turkey. Perhaps a gate and a welcome sign will have to be inserted in some of those fences, after all.  It’s a funny old world.