They say there are only two kinds of people in the world: the Irish and those who wish they were.
Now they can say there are two ways to think about the city’s new South Carolina Irish Memorial at the foot of Charlotte Street on the harbor: the place to begin a beautiful walk around the perimeter of the peninsula or the place to end it.
Or, given the enthusiastic community of local people of Irish descent, it might just be a lovely place to stay a while and wait for someone to strike up a conversation about the Auld Sod — and take it from there.
The centerpiece of the recently finished park is a 28-foot by 30-foot, 10-inch-thick granite block carved in the shape of Ireland. Michael Collins, Irish ambassador to the United States, helped dedicate it Monday, and issued an invitation to guests to visit the real Ireland and “reconnect with the land of your ancestors.”
But if that’s not in the budget, the new park is a fine place for a virtual visit to Ireland. And a good place to begin the city’s next St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The park in itself is another example of the city’s inviting public spaces. And perhaps it will encourage visitors to take advantage of Mayor Joe Riley’s almost completed vision of a waterfront walk around the perimeter of the peninsula — from the Cooper River, along Charleston Harbor to the Ashley — or, if you prefer, starting at the Ashley.
Because of its historical, architectural and cultural heritage, Charleston is a city its residents share with people from all over the world.
The waterfront walk allows residents, as well as tourists, to imagine the 1670s, when ships from Europe first sailed into Charleston Harbor — and later in the 18th century when the first large wave of Irish came to Charleston.
Its natural beauty explains why they chose to stay.
And now Charlestonians have a park to honor the city’s Irish heritage and a place to ponder, happily, the Irish adage that “continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.”
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