Donald Keough, former president of Coca-Cola, is chairman of Allen & Company. A leading Irish-American philanthropist, he has played a leading role in strengthening the tie between the U.S. and Ireland.
Peace is taking that cloud of anxiety off the whole island. I think that you are going to see its benefits written large for future generations. It is just unthinkable to me that this peace process could end in failure.
I hope that we can get a sort of common voice among all of the various groups that are interested in Ireland. And let’s not be shy about it, we want to bring this place, North and South, into the next century with enormous dignity. We want Ireland to be a place where young Irish men and women who want to help build that nation have a place to work.
It’s a privilege for me to be a small voice in all of this. Suddenly an Irish door has been opened in America, and across the country people with Irish in their blood have become not just more aware of it, but more interested in and prouder of it.
My generation was really the first generation of the post-Famine Irish to have the luxury to lift our heads up, take a breath and say, “I want to know more about that place where we came from.”
I think the next generation – my children – are going to be even more interested and more curious and more sensitive to that little island that has produced over 70 million people around the world.
– November / December 1995 ♦