The history and heritage of the Irish became a focus of mine during my third undergraduate year, spent at Trinity College, Dublin. That time transformed my world view, from a rather diffident view of world affairs to one of greater engagement.
From the moment I set foot in Dublin in October 1973, I began a visceral love affair with the Irish and Ireland. I traveled widely through the city -- on foot, via bus and rail, and, my favorite means, atop a bicycle, agog as the city's history literally lay at my feet, inviting discovery.
My encounter with the city's evocative architecture, sagas of the Irish freedom struggle, and, more startlingly, restrictions on condom sales helped convince me that, in many ways, time there had stood still. I had stepped into a place that seemed oddly familiar, insular and safe, belying the country's history of emigration, mayhem and political violence.
Of course, the concomitant of the Ireland experience is a look outward to the Irish immigrant experience, the extraordinary impact of the Irish on the world -- a rich lode of stories to explore.
That focus in 1997 led Joe Gannon and I to create TheWildGeese.com, an online magazine devoted to "chronicling the epic history and heritage of the Irish worldwide." In 2013, we transformed it into a social network, which, in 2015, we rechristened TheWildGeese.irish (TWG).
The fruits have been considerable: More than 3,000 articles and 5,500 members from dozens of countries; nearly 5,000 images; and 34 special-interest groups, making TWG a leading Internet destination for those looking to explore and celebrate Irish history and heritage, in the words of William Butler Yeats, 'wherever green is worn.'