Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Raymond P. McLaughlin, November 9, 1984

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Growing up in Northern Ireland

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Partial Transcript: McLaughlin. I was born in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. And, uh, I lived there until I was twenty-five when I came over to Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin discusses growing up in Northern Ireland. He talks about his family, occupation, and education. McLaughlin lived in the school where his mother was the principal. He states that he is the youngest of five children. He also goes into detail about his occupation as a textile designer.

Keywords: Belfast; County Antrim; Irish Republican Army (IRA); Jobs

Subjects: Antrim (Northern Ireland : County); Education; Families.

00:02:25 - Life in America

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Partial Transcript: Then when I came over to America at the invitation of my cousin, a gentlemen named Patty O'Neil...

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin discusses moving to Lexington and how he began his life here. He also expresses his enjoyment of Lexington, stating that he was welcomed with warm affections. He talks about feeling at home in Lexington, especially when seeing all of the Irish names on tombstones, noticing how many others had come to Lexington before him.

Keywords: Farms; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); Man O' War (horse)

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Lexington (Ky.).

00:04:52 - Explaining the complexity of the situation in Northern Ireland

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Partial Transcript: Later, I, when the, uh, current problems started in, in Northern Ireland, uh, I would talk about this.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin describes the types of questions he was asked about the issues in Northern Ireland. He discusses going to talk to several service and church groups about Ireland, which many were interested in.

Keywords: "Trinity"; Leon Uris

Subjects: Northern Ireland

00:05:58 - Founding of the Irish Society

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Partial Transcript: I went home in 1979. I took my three youngest children with me. I have seven children by the way. I took the three youngest with me. This was their first visit to Ireland..

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin describes taking his three youngest children to Ireland and how it filled him with nostalgia, missing his homeland. On the way home on the plane he talks about being inspired to form the Irish Society in Lexington. He expresses how he had the first exploratory meeting in the Opera House where 120 people were in attendance, and 30 of Ireland's 32 counties were represented.

Keywords: Bluegrass Irish Society; Ireland; Lexington Opera House

Subjects: Irish Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.

00:07:19 - The first St. Patrick's Day Parade in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: I then called, uh, Jim Amato. He was then mayor Amato. I called Jim and asked his blessing on having a little symbolic parade for St. Patrick's Day...

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin discusses the establishment of the first St. Patrick's Day parade in Lexington, Ky. He then goes on to describe how it became a televised event on Kentucky Educational Television (KET). McLaughlin talks about the size of this first event with 21 marching bands and 120 units. He talks about how the parade continued to be successful for several years after.

Keywords: Ed McMahon; Frankfort, Ky.; Jim Amato; John Y. Brown; Kentucky Educational Television (KET); Phyllis George; St. Patricks Day

00:08:39 - Early years and naming of the Irish Society

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Partial Transcript: At these early meetings in the Irish Society--by the way I wanted to call it the Irish Cultural Society--(coughs)--but when I threw it up to democratic vote...

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin describes his intentions of naming the society the "Irish Cultural Society," but it was turned down in democratic vote and the name Bluegrass Irish Society was chosen. McLaughlin expresses his decisions in having monthly meetings and committees to establish a constant strong attendance. He states that eventually people became so busy that they only became interested in the parade. He closes this section by explaining wishes to stir up more excitement for the society in the future.

Keywords: Bluegrass Irish Society; Gaelic

Subjects: Irish Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.

00:12:32 - "Irish" dining in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Well, there have been several restaurants in Lexington. One that's now defunct was called...

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin talks about the "Irish" restaurants in Lexington. He states that there really is not a distinctive Irish food or dish and that potatoes may be the only Irish food because it was a staple for so long. He says that Irish restaurants usually play Irish music and have shamrocks.

Keywords: Irish food; Irish restaurants

Subjects: Lexington (Ky.).

00:14:07 - Irish immigrants in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: I do know that some of them came through the, uh, the gap there down at Cumberland, the Cumberland Gap, coming in from the Virginias.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin discusses the waves of Irish immigration in Lexington. He begins by describing how several came over through the Cumberland Gap, as farmers, or to teach stone masonry. McLaughlin describes an exchange program in which students from Ireland could study horse farming and breeding in Lexington, while students from America could go to Ireland and experience how things are done. He discusses what life has been like for him as an Irish immigrant in Lexington.

Keywords: Cumberland Gap; Dr. Michael Osborne; Horse breeding; Horse farming; Ireland; Irish stone masons; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Irish Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.

00:18:34 - Catholicism

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Partial Transcript: Well, um, I am Catholic. And, uh, you might say, "Oh you mean you're Roman Catholic?" That's a bit of a joke. I say "No. I'm not Roman Catholic. I'm Irish Catholic."

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin describes how the blanket term of Catholicism does not necessarily describe all Catholics. He describes how Roman Catholics and Irish Catholics differ.

Keywords: Catholicism; Irish Catholic; Roman Catholics

Subjects: Catholic Church; Religion

00:20:02 - Political issues in Ireland in 1984

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Partial Transcript: Well, the--yes, there are lots of serious problems over there.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin states that Ireland's political problems are very deep rooted. He talks about how the nation is being occupied by England against its will. He says England is continuing a promise made with Northern Ireland, but some want them to leave. McLaughlin expresses some sympathy for England because there does not seem to be a solution due to minority groups continuing the conflict. He then goes to talk about how most Irish in Lexington are not involved in the situation aside from assistance for women and families with interned soldiers.

Keywords: Britain; Compromise of 1921; Ireland; Irish Northern Aid Committee (NORAID)

Subjects: Ireland--Politics and government.

00:27:28 - Future of the Bluegrass Irish Society

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Partial Transcript: I would hope so. I think that, um, I think that the challenge is mine. I think that I have to dig deeper, find something that will trigger new interest.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin explains how he hopes that the Irish Society will reestablish some excitement. He states that this task is his and he hopes to find the interesting speaker or great program that will inspire people to be excited in the society again.

Keywords: Bluegrass Irish Society

Subjects: Irish Americans--Kentucky--Lexington.

00:28:13 - Interactions with President John F. Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: Yes, uh, he was running for the presidency. I had just been here about a year, and he was coming to speak on the University of Kentucky campus on a Saturday morning at eleven.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin describes how President John F. Kennedy, during his campaign process, visited the campus of the University of Kentucky and McLaughlin talks about wanting to see him. McLaughlin tells the story of joining the press to see him. He states that the President wanted to eat lunch or meet with him, but McLaughlin did not get the chance to see him due to unexpected car issues.

Keywords: University of Kentucky

Subjects: Kennedy, John F., 1942-

00:34:26 - More on growing up in Northern Ireland

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Partial Transcript: Yes, uh, as I mentioned, my mother was a principal of a little school. My father worked for the government.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin talks more about growing up in Northern Ireland, stating that he loved the country life and that no one ever worried about anyone's religion or political affiliation. He mentions two days out of the year that people celebrated each religion. He reflects on being in the religious minority.

Keywords: Battle of the Boyne; Catholic; James II; Orange Lodge; Papish; Prince William; Protestant

Subjects: Northern Ireland.; Religion

00:40:23 - Rural experience vs. city experience in Ireland

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Partial Transcript: Yes, um, when I was fourteen I left this little rural school and went up to Belfast, which was about thirty miles away, to continue my education.

Segment Synopsis: McLaughlin discusses the differences between life in rural Ireland and city life in Ireland. He describes how children in the cities were "trained" by their parents to dislike those that were different. He says that the cities were highly segregated. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Belfast; Catholic; Protestant; Segregation

Subjects: Ireland.