#b#Irish Memories#/b#

Thanks for taking notice of my new book, “I’m Sending You a Shamrock to Remind You of Home” (U.S. 1, March 12).

Having read Lynn Robbins’ excellent article, I would like to emphasize a particular point about Irish emigration, which has been, I believe, the major theme of Irish history over the past 175 years. While most Americans know about the mass emigration that followed in the wake of the Famine, many do not realize the extent to which it continued in the following decades right up to today.

Every Irish census after the Famine showed a steadily shrinking population as hundreds of thousands of mainly young, single men and women left their homes and families in search of a better future elsewhere. This downward trend ended for a while in the late 20th century as the economic boom popularly dubbed the “Celtic Tiger” brought fleeting prosperity to the island, but has now picked up again in the wake of the massive banking and real estate collapse a few years ago.

It’s startling to realize that Ireland’s population today [both the Republic and Northern Ireland] is a full 2 million fewer than it was in 1841.

Thomas Callahan Jr.

Callahan is a professor of history at Rider University who will discuss his new book at the Lawrence branch of the Mercer County Library Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m.

#b#Arc Seeks Awareness of Mental Disabilities#/b#

With the end of winter and the start of March Madness many New Jersey citizens might not realize that March is also National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, an opportunity to highlight and recognize the abilities and accomplishments of individuals with intellectual and development disabilities across the state. This recognition provides an occasion for self-advocates, families, and advocacy organizations like the Arc of New Jersey to raise awareness about developmental disabilities and the challenges these individuals face.

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are your neighbors. They are employed by your local businesses and they attend services with you at your place of worship. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities belong in the community, living integrated lives with families and friends. National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is a chance to take a second look at accessibility in your town, or at ways you can increase inclusivity on a community level. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can lead independent and productive lives here in New Jersey, as long as their fellow citizens provide a welcoming environment for them to do so.

Thomas Baffuto

Executive Director, Arc of NJ

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