For some time now I've felt like an honorary citizen of Ireland, having married a girl from Dublin and been blessed with two children upon which my wife and I have bestowed the most Irish of names. I've visited the country numerous times over the last 15 years and find myself becoming more intrigued with its history, culture and music with each visit. I've witnessed first hand Ireland's rapid evolution under the influence of unprecedented economic growth and the tidal wave of change brought by the European union. Any such metamorphosis brings with it changes that are both good and bad. The skies of Ireland's major cities have in recent years become thick with giant construction cranes, and its citizens have seen real estate prices hit astronomical highs. Ireland's youth no longer are confronted with the economic necessity of emigration, and expatriates have begun to return home in increasing numbers. The country now faces ironic and unforeseen challenges in the wake of its stunning reversal of fortune.
I've been reading The Burning of Bridget Cleary which contains a brief allusion to the origin of the word Boycott, which originated in Ireland. This abstract from bartleby.com does a great job of summarizing the story:
"Charles C. Boycott seems to have become a household word because of his strong sense of duty to his employer. An Englishman and former British soldier, Boycott was the estate agent of the Earl of Erne in County Mayo, Ireland. The earl was one of the absentee landowners who as a group held most of the land in Ireland. Boycott was chosen in the fall of 1880 to be the test case for a new policy advocated by Charles Parnell, an Irish politician who wanted land reform. Any landlord who would not charge lower rents or any tenant who took over the farm of an evicted tenant would be given the complete cold shoulder by Parnell's supporters. Boycott refused to charge lower rents and ejected his tenants. At this point members of Parnell's Irish Land League stepped in, and Boycott and his family found themselves isolatedwithout servants, farmhands, service in stores, or mail delivery. Boycott's name was quickly adopted as the term for this treatment, not just in English but in other languages such as French, Dutch, German, and Russian."