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The O’Sullivans Enjoy Emmetsburg

By Staff | Mar 18, 2010

When Senator Ned and Madeleine O’Sullivan came to Iowa they were amazed at the flat land and the big acreage of the land. They were also impressed with the friendly Iowans they have met.

“Everybody has been so nice to us, really fantastic,” said Emmetsburg’s visiting dignitary from Ireland. “But then I expected it because I talked to a couple of my predecessors. Denis O’Donovan was here a couple of years ago and last year was John McCarty, another good friend of mine. They told me about Emmetsburg.”

The O’Sullivans’ first outing in the community was to Emmetsburg Catholic and West Elementary schools. As former teachers, both were impressed with the students, their teachers and the physical environment.

“The response of the students was friendly and even challenging at times. They had some good questions,” O’Sullivan said.

Leprechauns were high on the list of questions and the O’Sullivans confirmed all their suspicions that leprechauns do exist. Madeleine even sang a leprechaun song for the children, based on a true story.

“I was so impressed with the children,” said Madeleine O’Sullivan. “They were very well prepared by the teachers. They were curious about different aspects of Ireland, which I found interesting. They wanted to know about the castles, animals and farms and the sports we play. They had their questions well prepared.”

“We talked a bit about Robert Emmet and what he meant to Ireland,” added O’Sullivan. “When I leave the parliament building and stroll down to the local park on my lunch break, there is a statue of Robert Emmet, the exact same as you have here in Emmetsburg.”

O’Sullivan talked about Jerome O’Connor, from County Kerry, who made the statue.?His work is becoming very important and very valuable.

“Robert Emmet took part in an ill fated rising in 1803,” O’Sullivan explained. “He was a dreamer. He was very impressed by the American war of independence and very impressed by the French revolution. He felt Ireland should be independent and free as well.

“It’s taken a long time fot that to happen, but I think his (Robert Emmet’s) dream has come to fruition. We in the south of Ireland are entirely independent, peace and harmony and Catholics and Protestants living together as Robert Emmet wanted.?We in Ireland owe so much to the American political scene, over the past 20 years in particular, to help negotiate the peace in Northern Ireland, particularly Bill Clinton. He took it in hand in a big way. He brought the two sides, the Unionists and the Republicans, to the White House. He sat them down and made them talk to one another. George Bush, when he came in, continued the same and did great work, and even today Barack Obama is continuing to pledge his support, and economic support as well, to make the peace work. And it is working. So Robert Emmet’s dream is a reality now.”

During their week in Iowa, Ned and Madeleine O’Sullivan hope to see more agricultural activity.

“In County Kerry, where I’m from, it’s not so much cereal and grain like you have here. It’s mostly cattle for beef and dairy cattle for milk,”?said O’Sullivan. “I?was so anxious to see the layout of the farms as we drove here. We saw how flat the land is and how big the acreage of the land is and the modern machinery for processing. Everything is big. You have to see the expansive ground to believe it. We’re quite impressed.

“In Ireland, we’re high quality – the best of beef, the best of milk products. It’s on a smaller scale than here. We’re anxious to hear from farmers how it works out here. It’s a different kind of farming compared to what we do.”

And, of course, Ned and Madeleine O’Sullivan are looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Parade and all of the festivities the rest of the week holds.

Welcome to Iowa, Ned and Madeleine O’Sullivan.