St Patricks Day, a celebration of everything we Irish can be proud of

Across the world today thousands of people Irish or not, will dress up in something green for the many St Partick’s parades and events from Dublin to Sydney and Tokyo to Moscow in celebration of everything Irish.

Interesting too that it’s also a public holiday in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the tiny island of Montserrat, known as Emerald Island of the Caribbean because of its founding by Irish. The holiday commemorates a failed slave uprising that occurred on 17 March 1768.

So how come a small little island on the edge of Europe with less than 6 million people, receives such international recognition for its national day? There are possible only two other countries who’s national day carry the same prestige, USA’s  4th of July and Bastille Day in France.

Every since the devastation of famine emigration has been as necessity while others were deported to Van Diemen’s Land for minor crimes. So much so that one in 5 American’s claim Irish ancestory and one in 4 Australians do. Today more than 40 million people worldwide claim Irish ansestory,  something which is reflected every year on March 17th in the coverage Ireland will receive across the world wide media. Ireland holds an unique position in terms of the warmth that is extended towards its people and its culture. For such a small country, brand Ireland has punched above its weight across many sectors.

Writers: Ireland have produced a wealth of writers, James Joyce novel Ulysses though complex in its structure it is ranked by many literally critics as one of the best English language novel of the 20th Century. Other notable writers would include Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Flann O’Brian, and in more recent years Maeve Binchy, Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright, Colm Mcann and Colm Tobin

Playwrights: such as Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, and Sean O Casey and in more recent times Martin McDonagh, all their works are performed around the world in theatres ongoing, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is regarded as one of the most important works of our time.

Poets: Patrick Kavanagh and Seamus Heaney and William Butler Yeasts a Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1923, my own personal favourites. He also founded the Abbey Theatre along with Lady Goulding.

Film: Down through the years many films have bought Ireland’s culture and identity to the world on screen with films such as The Quite Man, Ryan’s Daughter, My left Foot, The Field, In the Name of The Father, Michael Collins, The Wind that shakes the Barley, Intermission and Once.

Actors:  have been great ambassadors for the country including, Maureen O’Hara, Fionnuala Flanagan, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan Ciaran Hinds, and Michael Fassbender.

Drink, Ireland’s reputation as a nation of drinker is well established and there are many parodies on the drunken Irish. Recently there has been a concerted effort to change our image when it comes to drink. Leaving that aside drinking has played a huge part of Ireland’s brand recognition abroad.

Guinness:  recognised as one of the best know brands in the world no matter where you travel to in the world you certain to find Guinness on the shelf. The Guinness hop store at James Gate is the most visited tourist attraction in Ireland

The Irish pub: No matter what part of the world you  are in with little or no Irish connection you are almost certain to find a version of an Irish pub, full of non Irish people there to sample what makes and Irish pub so special.

Other Irish drink brands that are recognised worldwide include, Baileys Cream, Irish coffee, Jameson whiskey, Bushmills and Tullamore Dew.

Music and dance: Traditional music and dance has not only survived but has thrived in recent decades, groups such as The Clancy’s, The Dubliner’s, The Coors and The Chieftains have had huge success on the world stage performing with many to international stars. Enya with her distinctive sound, characterised by voice-layering folk melodies with synthesised backdrops, has had sales of 75million albums and in 2001 was the best selling female artist in the world.

Riverdance: Irish dance is taught and performed all over the world but with the creation of Riverdance as an interval act during Eurovision it has taken Irish dancing to a new level. It success as been phenomenal still touring the world after

U2: At this stage U2 must be considered alongside with The Beatles and The Rolling Stone as one of the greatest Rock groups of all time

Ryanair: From a tiny company that started out with on 15-seater plane flying between Waterford to Luton, UK it has grown to be Europe’s large airline (passenger numbers) carrying 72.1 million passengers in 2010

Sport: From team sports such as our native games such as hurling and Gaelic football, to soccer, rugby and more recently our cricket team. To individual sports stars like having the second youngest number 1 golfer in the world in Rory McIlroy.

Bord Fáilte: have done a wonderful job in marketing Ireland, particularly in recent year, with the greening of 32 landmarks in cities across the world, such as Niagara Falls, London Eye, The TV tower in Berlin, Table Mountain, South Africa, Burj Al Arab Hotel Dubai,The Empire State Building, Leaning tower of Pisa,

In recent years austerity has taken its toll and emigration has re-emergence for the first time in 20 years. Today is a time to take a moment and celebrate everything we as Irish people can be proud of, enjoy the craic and look forward to brighter days ahead. Have a great St Patrick’s Day wherever you are in the world.


© Tom Dowling

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh! A very Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!


Categories: General Views

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1 reply

  1. Hello! I really like your blog; I discovered it while learning about the climate of the entertainment industry in Ireland (hopefully Ardmore Studios will see future years).

    Here in Chicago, IL there is a small but strong presence of people with Irish descent. All the elders and parents who have immigrated to the city have been welcoming to me and they have given me the urge to visit your country (most come from west of Ireland). And like you stated, the people of Ireland are in a unique situation: strong with tradition yet very adaptable.

    Whatever you’re doing in Ireland please keep it up. From what I have heard and what I have seen, for the most part, Ireland is a shining light in the world, which is rare.

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