David & Mary Stanton Delighted In Return Visit
Visiting with old friends and making new ones were among the numerous activities that Irish Dignitary David and Mary Stanton participated in while visiting Emmetsburg during the 2011 St. Pat’s Celebration.
David is a Fine Gael member of the Irish Parliament representing County Cork East, having just been re-elected to his seat on Feb. 25. He grew up on a small farm in Ireland and taught school for 20 years. David and Mary have four sons-two work in the U.S. (New York and Texas) and two attend school at home in Ireland.
The couple were guests of the community in 2008.
“We were just delighted to return to Emmetsburg,” shared Mary Stanton. “It’s been wonderful meeting old friends and seeing familiar faces. Your 50 years of tradition here in Emmetsburg is so amazing.”
The Stantons both noted that they missed the company of the late Mickey Conlon, who worked for the St. Patrick’s Association and was a fixture during the annual celebration for nearly four decades.
“When we were here in 2008, Mickey took us everywhere. He was a joy to be with and we do miss him,” said Mary.
On this visit, Andy Joyce, who also welcomed the Irish guests into his home, chauffeured the Stantons about Emmetsburg.
“It has been lovely spending time with his beautiful family,” said Mary with a smile.
During this trip to Emmetsburg, the couple visited businesses and organizations throughout town. One of Mary’s favorites was a stop at the Middle School/High School complex.
“I was fascinated by the music room facilities,” she shared. “It reminded me of the show ‘Glee’ on TV. It was just like being on the set of the show. My sons would have been amazed at it all.”
She added that she thought the motivational posters and sayings on the walls of the school were also very nice.
“It was a very lovely setting,” said Mary. “The school facilities at home are not as fine.”
Another difference between their home and Emmetsburg are farmers’ markets. While ours tends to be a small affair, the farmers’ markets in Ireland become a social occasion each Saturday morning.
“The farmers’ markets have taken off at home,” explained David. “They sell vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, fish, fresh baked goods, and flowers, and musical groups perform. They draw people in from all over. People enjoy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and listen to the music. The aromas are just fantastic and the music adds to the occasion.”
While the farmers’ markets may be bustling, the economy in Ireland has been hit hard, just as it has in the U.S.
“It’s pretty bleak right now,” David said. “There’s a housing bubble; the house prices just went out of control and people mortgaged and re-mortgaged and the previous government allowed the banks to lend recklessly with light touch regulations. Now, the economy has tanked and the banks are in serious trouble.”
He shared that they been busy re-capitalizing the banks. Previously, the economy was dependent on the construction sector with many employees. That has stopped and unemployment has risen.
“A new government is in place with the elections just three weeks ago, but the challenges remain,” David explained. “We’re hoping that we can turn it around, but it will take about ten years to get it right again. There were so many mistakes made.”
Although the situation appears dire, David noted that Ireland has many strengths.
“We have a very young, highly educated workforce. There are a lot of very big companies located in Ireland. Information technology, pharmaceuticals, and agriculture are all doing very well at the moment.”