May 23, 2011

Is Féidir Linn (Yes We Can!)

photo by Dara McDomhnaill, The Irish Times
If Irish tourism stats were quantified by quality and not quantity of visitors, Ireland would be having a record year so far—what with the Queen in town last week and Barack and Michelle Obama visiting today.

I've been listening to Radio 1 all morning, watching live coverage on TV3, and surprising myself with a few sniffles and tears. Patriotism is a funny thing ... it can really catch you unawares. I'm swelling—and welling—with pride and I won't listen to the little leprechaun on my shoulder telling me I'm getting soft.
I loved listening to Joe Duffy's show this morning and found myself aching for home (he has that effect); it's that easygoing nature, the colorful language, and the ability to find the humor in everything—i.e., ourselves, the weather, the Presidential car getting stuck on its way out of the US Embassy!—that I miss so much.
Thanks to the Internet, I could watch the Obamas shake hands with crowds of locals in Moneygall—Obama's ancestral hometown (sidenote: I was seriously impressed at how Barack and Michelle really took their time and reached deep into the crowds to say hi), and then follow them into Ollie Hayes's pub where there was genuine warmth, conversation, laughter, and the official welcome of a pint of Guinness. Was aching again—this time for a decent pint—after seeing Mr. Obama knock his back. (Michelle had a ladylike half-pint, though I'd have liked to see her hold up a pint glass—you know she can handle it.)
For a few moments it felt like any bar in any town in Ireland, with locals (in their Sunday best) having a pint and shooting the breeze ...

If I worked for Guinness, I'd be feverishly dummying up some new campaigns right now, jumping off the President's observations that "it tastes so much better here" and we keep the best Guinness in Ireland for ourselves. And surely Discover Ireland will be all over tapping into, and motivating, the huge Irish American population to follow Mr. Obama's lead and track down their own roots. All things going well, the quantity of tourists for the second half of the year will match the quality of the first half (ahem, just a coincidence that I also happened to visit in the first half of the year!)

The Presidential cavalcade is on its way to College Green in Dublin right now for a gala celebration and a public address later this evening. The crowd—and Obamas—will be entertained by Irish musicians like The Sawdoctors, Imelda May, the Coronas, Mundy, and Sharon Shannon. Not sure if the Corrigan Brothers will be there, but surely this song will be belted out as some point during the President's visit:

Follow the rest of the day's events on TV3

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New tribute T-shirts:

and stickers on Redbubble:

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