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February 12th 2003

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American Dream Shattered

Who do we look up to now? Since we were ‘wee caddies’ in short trousers cheering as the cavalry came to the rescue at the last moment, the Yanks were our heroes! We watched open-mouthed as Hopalong, Durango, Kit Carson, the Lone Ranger et al, wiped out the bad guys and won the heart of the beautiful lady, before riding off into the sunset. We marvelled at Bogie, tried to walk like John Wayne and thrilled at MGM musicals that saw Astaire, Kelly & Rogers mesmerise with scintillating song and dance.

We watched with awe amazing U.S. technological feats, from the initial space satellite back in the mid-fifties to the first man on the moon in 1969 - followed by ‘Silicone Valley’ type developments of the computer age.

We grew up with Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry - the rock ‘n roll generation - America was our spiritual Nirvana - Brando our Buddha.

Our emigrants went there in numbers - came home on holidays and told us the stories. We fantasized as they wove verbal pictures of a way of life so different from Ireland in the 50s and 60s.

To us, the Yanks were always right - they were the good guys. Time Magazine, Newsweek and the Readers Digest made sure we knew this - America defending the free world against the evils of communism. As kids, we wondered about the Iron Curtain - we didn’t really know what it was - except that on this side was right - on the other - wrong.

We respected U.S. Presidents from Eisenhower to Clinton, trusting them to handle power with dignity, fairness and honour. This they mainly did, and, particularly with the last administration, proved a true friend of this country.

Then all changed - Cowboy George rode into office without even receiving a majority and, in two short years, proceeded to blow apart every vestige of the respect and trust we felt for the President, built up over so many years.

Europe and the world watch in amazement and sorrow as an American people we understood to stand for integrity and justice pledge support to a man determined to wage war on a country already on its knees from an inhuman sanctions regime.

All has changed - one person has destroyed the image of America for thinking people - a person who seems determined to wreak such havoc on the globe that it may take generations to recover.

Oh, for the days when Jimmy Cagney sang ‘I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy’ and we all swelled with pride - for then we were all wannabe Yankees. Not any more! Not any more!

Marc and Deirdre Gysling sport their tartans at the Burns' night in Harvey's Point

It makes a change to be serenaded by Bagpipes and Haggis, but serenaded we were when we took to the highlands of Harvey’s Point recently to partake in the inaugural Burns supper.

Greeted by a tartan clad piper, we were escorted to the supper room and welcomed by hosts Marc and Deirdre Gysling. Under the critical eye of Eamon Gillespie, the room was splendidly decorated with tartan ribbons cascading from the centre. The Scottish theme was also evident in the centrepieces on the tables where thistle and sea holly mingled like old friends. Generous nips of whisky lay waiting to toast the haggis and the lassies.

As chairman, Joe McGlone, a staunch Burns devotee welcomed the guests and complimented all, for entering into the spirit of the night with kilts, sporran and sashes (of the tartan kind!!!).

The Haggis was proudly paraded around the room by Simon, the chef, to the tune of Patrick Dorrian’s bagpipes. Richard Hurst, co-ordinator of the event, addressed the gathering and toasted the infamous dish which didn’t taste too “offal”.

There followed two Burn’s songs by the Tirconnaill Tenors. Nobody needed coaxing on to the floor once the Red Hot Ceilidh Peppers started to play. Dressed to kill in kilts straight from ‘Braveheart’, these lively lads instructed and demonstrated the intricate steps of the Highland fling and barn dances.It was the wee small hours when we retired, exhausted, but safe in the knowledge that not only had we enjoyed ourselves but we had also supported a very worthy cause.

Proceeds from the night were shared between Donegal Town Cancer Support Group, Donegal Hospice and North West Hospice. Well done to Joe Mc Glone, his organisers and Harvey’s Point for a memorable tribute to Robert Burns.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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