Monday, February 05, 2007

Luck of the Irish

Every nation has its own special jokes directed at other nations and their perceived foibles or defects. The French have Belgian jokes, the Poles, in the days of the Iron Curtain, had Russian jokes and the Russians had Polish jokes. East Germans had no jokes since they had nothing to laugh about in those days.

And, for many years, a prime target for the British were the Irish, those of the Republic bit of that emerald isle.

The potato eating Paddies were a staple diet for comics, including some of their own, such as the inimitable Dave Allen.

But now it seems that the laugh may be on the British.

For whilst the British government has been fiddling during the conflagration of their citizens freedom and the encroachment of their civil liberties, the government of the Irish Republic has gone about the business for which they were elected, namely, running the country. This revolutionary idea, which does not seem to have occurred to the present incumbents of Westminster, has resulted in Ireland becoming one of the most sort after locations in Europe, both for business and for residence.

For a nation that has suffered so much over the years, this is very much a turn up for the book, in betting parlance.

The popular (amongst the English) image of the Guinness quaffing Irish navvy with mud on his boots has conveniently overlooked the enormous contribution made to English literature by that race. Without the efforts of Elizabeth Ashbridge, George Bernard Shaw, Edmund Burke, Richard Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Swift, Frank O’Connor, Oscar Wilde or William Butler Yeats, English literature would have been greatly impoverished, yet many fail to recognise these and many others as being Irish authors.

Now the per capita income of the Irish exceeds that of the British, companies are encouraged by beneficial tax concessions to set up business in the Republic and, whilst these developments may result in some loss of the pleasantly relaxing lifestyle there, it can only result in an upturn in the degree of national pride, something clearly lacking in the day to day affairs of their neighbour.

Becoming a fully fledged member of the European Union has hardly dampened their prospects, as opponents of British membership always claim will be the result of such an alliance, and does indeed seem to be an integral part of their growing success.

It is significant that the most successful short haul airline in Britain today is totally Irish owned and operated.

Fast racehorses have long been one of Ireland’s best known exports.

It seems they may be winning this race by a head.


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