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  • Equality Emerging by Irish artist John Behan is the sculpture readers of this story see in the accompanying photograph. As I stood bleary-eyed, almost feeling half-drunk from jet lag, and still in the same clothes - my suitcase would not arrive for another three days - I admired this sculpture that greets all those before they enter old Galway. We were a group of 41 - teachers, historians, librarians, and principals in Galway, Ireland, gathered for three weeks of lectures, talks, excursions, plays, school visits, and concerts about all things Irish at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Our first excursion literally began here with the sardonic and brilliant historian/archaeologist -------- who paused us all before this sculpture and waxed on about its multi-layered symbolism for the past, present, and future - for all those who struggle for equality. It honors the strength of all women, described our historian guide, through the centuries of war and strife and poverty as well as the indefatigable spirits of women who toiled in fields and at the hearth and who held families - often very large families - together amidst loss and suffering in those daunting times. As I listened intently to his moving words, I couldn't help but grow a little blue inwardly. And God, I was weary, never able to sleep on any plane flight - and it was only 9 a.m here on our second day in Ireland.

    As our contingent moved towards the bridge into Galway, our lecturer guide stopped abruptly and said, "Those of you taking notes might want to add that we folks in Galway lovingly refer to this most interesting sculpture as "The Lass Without an Arse".

    That did it! Right then, I gulped enough of the Irish air in my laughter to rid all my sluggishness.

    *** The inscription beneath the sculpture reads as follows:

    Above a hole in the ground
    No matter what stands
    Measures nothing of life
    Unless it touches our hearts
    Inspires our humanity to act
    And then to persevere.
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