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Mission Impossible but the Irish did it


The following text is an excerpt from a letter written to the Sydney Morning Herald many years ago. The Author was Benedict Michael Joseph Aloysius Quinn, who at the time lived in Croyden N.S.W

Of course people laugh at us. They laugh at us because we do - what seems to them - strange things and have been known to make a mess of some of the jobs we have taken on. But just ponder for a moment on the impossible jobs we have taken on through the ages.

You see it all really started in the 5th century after the fall of the Roman Empire to the Barbarians, when it was left to civilised and Christian Ireland to get the show back on the road.

The first major task we took on in (450 AD) was an attempt by Columcille and Columbanus to civilise the Scots - or the Picts as they were known then. It took us about a hundred years to get them down from the trees. The result was an Irish joke. But we did eventually manage to teach them how to play the bagpipes, make whisky and run around carrying great trunks of trees over their shoulders. Not much I admit but has anyone improved on that in the following 1500 years?

Believe it or not after that we had an even greater task on our hands - getting the British up off all fours. Those poor inferior beings were so backward when we arrived to lead them out of the darkness they would grovel at the Irish scholars feet: much the same as they do now in the presence of their betters - such as the Queen, Roddy Llewellyn or Koo Starkers.

We did try with the Welsh. For over 400 years we tried. But we got absolutely nowhere. Well the thing is, if you get more than 3 Welsh together they form a choir, then there's a complete break down of consensus and the only thing to do is to stand about 10 miles upwind of them.

In 1578 we responded to a desperate need in France. Did you know that when the Irish built the first monastery in Paris the French were eating live frogs and snails - shells an all! Four hundred and five years later we've managed to get them to kill the frogs first and take the snails out of their shells. Now that's what I call progress.

Between 1578 and 1687 the Irish set up a chain of 30 monasteries from Lisbon to Prague. Everywhere we went we found darkness and despair. Was it our fault that they were unable to see the whole mosaic of Irish Enlightenment and started eating garlic and burning people at stakes instead?

Bernardo O'Higgins (1778-1842) freed Chile, became its first president and started a standard in government that soon spread throughout South America.

Early in the 18th century the Irish opened up the New World (not Coles) and they and their descendants rose to great prominence in North America.

Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, but who piloted him there and brought him safely back? None other than Mick Collins who I think you will agree can hardly trace his lineage back to Geronimo or Sitting Bull.

At the present time over 6000 Irish teachers are spread throughout 60 developing countries. They are producing a new type of dairy cattle in the Sudan, reclaiming eroded land in Lesotho, and Irish missionaries have reached tribes of Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert and the people of the Limpopo River - while the Mormons are still stuck in Greenwich Point and Point Piper.

Was it really Jonathan Swift's fault that Jo Bjelke- Petersen runs Queensland in the Lilliputian manner? Heard the one about the three Irishmen who were entered for the Nobel Prize for Literature? They won it - George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett.

Remember one of the poems you learned at school. Maybe it was written by Yeats or Goldsmith. Would the movies be the same without a Flynn, a Power an O'Sullivan, an O'Hara an O'Toole or a Harris?

Need a sex change? It'll probably be Dr Murphy who'll go snip, snap and Bob's your aunt.

If you are Irish and someone tells you a stupid joke don't feel tempted to kick him in the three-piece suite. Just remember that dogs always bark at ships with embroidered sails.

Are the Irish stupid? Of course we are. If we had any sense at all we would have left the whole lot of you up in the trees.


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   Last Updated 19/04/2009