December 14, 1963.
Mrs K. Ahearne, ICA president speaking at a symposium of the Irish Folk School Council, said that one of their major rural social problems was emigration and she blamed the mothers of Ireland a lot for that, because they had instilled into the minds of their children the money that was to be made in London and in New York, two cities where broken hearts were hidden by large pay packets.
Recently an emigrant in New York had said to her, and this person was doing very well: “Tell them when you go back that it is not worth the price paid.”
In New Zealand an Irish emigrant told her that he would never forgive his mother for not telling him what he was in for when he left Ireland. In Australia another had this to say: “I went back home after being away for 20 years and never again will I be happy.”
It was treason for parents to knock idealism out of the hearts of their children and very wrong to tell them that Ireland held nothing for them. Ireland had many things - great soil, great culture, great spirituality, and so on. They should look their rural social problems in the face and deal with them just as their forefathers did when they had not half as much as they had at the present time.
Petty snobbery, Mrs Ahearne continued, was another troublemaker in rural Ireland. Too much importance was placed on the number of cows a man had, or on the size of his bank balance, or on how many professional people were turned out by the family, but little or no emphasis was placed on man’s inherent characteristics.
Another social problem was late marriages or no marriages at all and all this by reason of the fact that parents held the reins too long and deprived their sons of a good wife for the sake of a few pounds.
Selfishness in the modern woman, the speaker went on, was another problem and so was the lack of family discipline. It appeared as if there was no respect for neighbours’ property and it would do the boys of Ireland quite a lot of good if they had a few years in the army.
What was good for one country was not good for all, she said.