The Irish diaspora remains connected.

The Chapel of St. Basil at St. Thomas University in Houston. The college, a growing center for Irish studies, is named after St. Thomas Aquinas.

Each day, the Irish diaspora, rejuvenated by a new wave of emigrants, is becoming ever more connected even as its members disperse to every corner of the globe.

The benefits of the internet in connecting the Irish abroad with Ireland, and each other, has been well documented with the likes of Facebook and Skype now having important roles in the lives of Irish families.

However, in spite of the luxury of having this increasingly essential way of communicating, this virtual space has not replaced the need for a real social network in real spaces that the new members of the Irish diaspora want to tap into.

The multitude of authentic Irish pubs from Melbourne to Manhattan, Munich to Minneapolis and everywhere in-between are a testimony to how naturally the Irish converge socially and will always look to create a physical social space.

The desire to network is largely for social reasons and career building but whatever reason the new wave of Irish emigrants want to connect with each other, the most important thing is that they do.

Whether it is joining a GAA club, a business network, or attending cultural and social events, what is important is that this new outflow of Irish citizens connects to the wider Irish diaspora.

The framework for a tangible social network exists due to the legacy of previous generations, and in their experiences lies a real lesson of Irish history that should resonate with the new wave of Irish citizens migrating around the globe: The fortunes of Ireland have always been intertwined with the fortunes of the Irish diaspora, and the fortunes of the diaspora rely on its members building a strong social network.

The ability of the Irish diaspora to generate social capital that intersects the world of education, culture, business and politics will once again be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

From the Great Famine to the election of JFK, the Irish community in America overcame poverty and prejudice through the formation of a social network that intersected every aspect of American society. Through a network of societies and organizations, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, police and fire departments, county associations, Irish pubs, the GAA and other sports clubs, a social capital was generated that supported Irish ambitions to become leaders in industry, education, the legal system and politics.

Some of the less palatable, yet no less influential, aspects of this social network, including Tammany Hall and the Irish Mob, are now just testimony to the rough and tumble journey of the Irish in America. MORE…┬áIrish Echo

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