Burlingame Rotary Club
Founded in 1925

High Gear Bulletin


Zoom Meeting - Wednesday, March 17, 2021

High Gear Editor:  Guy Smiley

President Emily: The meeting was called to order at 12:15
Joe Galligan led us in the pledge.
Fritz Brauner gave us the invocation with a collage of Irish blessings.
  • May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hands.
  • May the good Lord take a liking to you but not too soon.
  • Wherever you go and whatever you do, may the luck of the Irish be there with you.
  • May your troubles be less, your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.” And next to last is, “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover—hard to find and lucky to have.
  • Never iron a four-leaf clover because you do not want to press your luck.
Guests of the Club—Finbar Hill, our speaker, Christine Krolik introduced her lifelong best friend. and our honorary fourth daughter to her father, Clare Hennigan.
Few quick things from Emily:
  • Happy hour will be Friday @ 5
  • Six students are looking for students are looking for students to interview for an inter-generational cookbook project that’s being run through the Burlingame Collaborative.
  • Spring Golf Tournament will be Monday, May 3—we’ll have a fund-a-need, but not doing big sponsorships, really just want people to come play, Fiesta Cart will be roving the course with pre-Cinco de Mayo treats
  • Holiday party do-over at Filoli on June 27, 4-6:30
Fr. Michael Mahoney introduced our speaker, Finbar Hill. Mr. Hill came to the US in 1989 from County Cork, Ireland. He served as Honorary Consul General at the Irish Consulate in Los Angeles.  He served in that capacity from 2002 until 2018. He currently resides in Orange County. He is the father of two boys and has four grandchildren. He lived in Burlingame in the 1990s. It was during this time that he became close to the Capuchin order at Our Lady of Angels and befriended Fr. Michael.
Mr. Hill began his talk by referencing Dicken’s Scrooge. His presentation would cover the past, present, and future of Ireland as each era is influenced by the previous one. The early inhabitants were nomadic Celtic tribes. By the 4th Century Christianity was introduced and began replacing the Celtic polytheism. During the 8th through the 10th centuries there were hundreds of Christian monasteries established.
In the mid-1800 the Great Famine struck Ireland.  The population dropped from 8 million to just over 4 million due to starvation and large out-migration, much of that to the United States.  This diaspora gave rise to many notables among the 40 million of Irish decent in our country; actors, authors, congressmen and even a president. To Mr. Hill, William Butler Yates summed it up when he wrote, ”Out of Ireland have we come, great hatred, little room, maimed us at the start. I carry from my mother’s womb a fanatic heart.”
The population, over many years, struggled for independence and freedom from Great Britain.  There was a rebellion in 1916 to declare the rights of the Irish to ownership of the country. But only lasted a week and its leaders were executed within days. This galvanized the Irish and the War of Independence began. It ended with a treaty in late 1922 where the entire island of Ireland became a self-governing Dominion called the Irish Free State.
For the next 30 years Ireland struggled economically, dependent on agricultural exports and remittances from family members abroad. Things began to improve in the 1960s when a five-year economic development plan was adopted. The country began to shift from an agricultural base to a service and industrial nation. A major step forward for the Irish people was when the Minister of Education Donal O’Malley established free education, including college. Mr. Hill commented that O’Malley was known to drink a bit. As the story goes, he was driving home one night down a one-way street in the wrong direction. A policeman pulled him over and recognizing him said, ”Minister, this is a one-way street.” To which Mr. O’Malley replied, “I’m only going one way.”
In 1973 the Irish Republic join the European Economic Community. This began a boom for the country. There was plenty of opportunity for their well-educated workforce and Ireland prospered. Unlike the past, there was now an inflow of 450,000 people immigrating to Ireland. Today over 750 US companies have established facilities in Ireland employing 155,000. The investment from these companies has reached $387 billion. Last year Ireland exported $150 billion in goods, a large portion in pharma.
Ireland is also recognized for the accomplishments of its citizens in arts and culture. There are the greats of literature such as Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett. Ireland also produced five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The performance arts have their fair share from Ireland, as well.
Mr. Hill then addressed Northern Ireland. When Ireland succeeded in winning its independence it came at a price. The country was partitioned, and Northern Ireland remained under British rule, creating a Protestant state for the Protestant majority. The Catholic population numbers about 30%.  It did not encourage cross-border commerce with the Republic of Ireland.  That changed with the Good Friday Accord in 1998. This agreement led to a more equitable and prosperous Northern Ireland and ended much of the bloodshed that marked the decades of the “Troubles”.
The subject of BREXIT, the UK’s exit from the EU, is too complex to deal with in this talk. COVID has wreaked havoc around the world as well as Ireland.  But the spirit of the Irish people will allow them to weather the pandemic.  With its well-educated population it will persevere and prosper. In the future, Ireland will make significant progress in international cooperation and equal rights. Technologies such as robotics and AI will contribute to the country’s economic success.
Mr. Hill ended his presentation with a quote from the Nobel Laureate Seamus Healy. “No poem or play or song can fully right a wrong inflicted and endured. History says, don’t hope on this side of the grave…But then, once in a lifetime the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.”  Let this be he time.
Zoom Link:
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