As you know, Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, which is the start of spring in my book. Coming from an Irish family, Saint Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Not only do I enjoy the free-flowing revelry, but it is also a chance to reconnect with an integral part of my Irish culture and upbringing. There is nothing quite like marching in a parade to the entrancing sound of bagpipes. In fact, my very first memory after being elected to the City Council was marching up Main Street behind the bagpipe corps for Veterans and Armistice Day. It was at that moment that I fully comprehended the importance of celebrating multiculturalism. Particularly in a diverse community like Malden!
Irish culture holds an important place in American society. It represents both a story of repression and that of the underdog success story in American politics. For centuries, Irish immigrants have come to the United States in hopes of finding a better life. In fact, according to the Library of Congress “between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the United States [and] in the 1840s, they comprised nearly half of all immigrants to this nation.” Anti-immigrant policies and discrimination made life unnecessarily difficult for those recent arrivals. It was not uncommon to see signs soliciting employment with disclosures stating that “Irish need not apply.”
This story of repression is not unique to the Irish. Generations of immigrants to America have faced and continue to face the same discrimination. Embracing different cultures brings many benefits to American society as a whole.
Here in Malden, residents have an ever-expanding option for high quality cuisines from all across the globe. We are truly so lucky to live in a multicultural community. Are you hungry for Irish pub food? Head on down to Hugh O’Neill’s for some Guinness beef stew or fish and chips. Would you rather Thai food? Take a short walk over to Crying Thaiger on Ferry Street. Caribbean food? Pop on over to the Island right next door. I could go on and on about the options. My advice is to come on down to Malden Center, walk around and explore!
Now, for those of you who knew my dad – Bobby O’Malley – from his times hanging at the Irish American or the Italian American Citizens Club (Yes, he was allowed to join as a non-voting member because he was married to my Sicilian Mom), you know he loved food. My Dad enjoyed all kinds of food and loved that he married into a big Italian family because the wine and food never ran out. I am so thankful to my Mom and Dad for bringing me up in a family that embraced and celebrated different people and cultures.
It is said that embracing different cultures can lead to greater empathy and respect for others. When we are exposed to different cultures, we are forced to confront our own biases and assumptions. By learning about and appreciating other cultures, we can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the humanity and dignity of all people. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment!
So, on this Saint Patrick’s Day, I ask that you spend some time with your family, friends and neighbors and raise a glass to those who have come before and those who have yet to arrive! And may your home always be too small to hold all your friends!
City Councillor Ward Four