Denis Barrett of Ireland Shares His Nation’s Joy About Joe Biden’s Victory

Two days ago, Denis Barrett, coordinator of Cork Learning City, wrote to colleagues including John Wooding, former professor and provost at UMass Lowell who leads Lowell: City of Learning. The two partner organizations promote lifelong learning in their cities, and this year brought out the Cork-Lowell writing anthology ATLANTIC CURRENTS, whose contributors number several regular writers on this blog. Denis has been to Lowell a couple of times on Learning Cities business, and John has traveled to Cork for collaborative activities. 

Denis gave me the OK to publish his message here as evidence of world interest in the American election. The video he refers to has Joe Biden reciting lines from the late Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Cure at Troy,” the passage with the phrase “when hope and history rhyme.” Heaney’s lines are of immense meaning to Irish people who lived through The Troubles. The video, linked in the email message, has gone viral in Ireland.–PM

Denis Barrett, coordinator of Cork Learning City

From: Denis Barrett
Subject: Re: Biden reading Seamus Heaney
Date: November 9, 2020 at 2:48:55 PM EST

Yes- the video is from the National evening news on our public broadcasting body RTÉ – When hope and history rhyme. Love it.

It’s a very emotive reading, it also means so much to us here on the island of Ireland.
I didn’t get to tell you all that there have been celebratory parades of cars (a-la the Democratic rallies) in Biden’s ancestral home of Ballina in County Mayo in the west of Ireland and traditional music performances (socially distant) in the east where the other side of his family, the Finnegans, are still living.
And thanks to Biden’s statement of support for Ireland in the middle of his campaign we all have renewed hope of avoiding a hard border and avoiding the possible damage to the Good Friday agreement. The impact over here of Biden taking time during the campaign to send a clear message to the UK about the need to protect the Good Friday agreement from Brexit can’t be underestimated, and is just one good deed already done — there were socially distant parties last Saturday night and people were glued to the news bulletins all week in hope. There have been a lot of memories of his visit with President Obama shared since the weekend and that RTE Six O’clock News piece of Biden reading Heaney speaks of the significance of the moment here, and the positive ripple effect.
When hope and history rhyme.
Happy days. Lots to be done.
Denis Barrett
Cork Learning City Co-ordinator