Bet an Irish person a pint of Guinness they can’t tell you what the countries national symbol is and you are usually on a winner.
Three quarters of the population of six million will say the Shamrock but it is the Gold Harp. To win the second pint ask what are the national colours and the majority will say green but it’s St Patricks Sky Blue.
Well to be sure to be sure it is a bit confusing as the country has gone to green with their post boxes and many logos since independence in 1922 but the Harp and the blue are the country’s national symbols. Ireland is the only country in the world where a musical instrument is the country’s national emblem. The spire or spike as they call it beside the River Liffey on the site of Nelsons Pillar is referred to as the Stiletto in the Ghetto or the Erectional Intersection.
Patricia our Irish guide nailed the demographic on our bus as we toured Dublin and imparted some risqué Irish humour as we toured certain landmarks. “That’s a statue of Oscar Wilde” she announces. “We call it the fag on the crag”. Also born in Ireland other literary gurus, George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce who have both left vast legacies to the country.
Dublin is over 1,000 years old and was originally a Viking city. Nearly half of the city’s population is under 35. Phoenix Park is the largest city park in Europe with an 11 k perimeter wall enclosing 707 hectares.
Drinking is a very popular pastime in Ireland for the locals and the tourists with the best attended icon the Guinness Storeroom. The building was a fermentation plant from 1904 to 1988 and is now a seven story visitor experience dedicated to the history and the production of the world’s most famous beer. A visit will include a pint (or more if you pay) and will outline the 250 year history of the brand. Over 3 million pints are sold around the world daily. The view from the level 7 Gravity Bar is 360 degrees around the city. There is a Government restriction on the height of buildings making this possible.
Ireland’s main industries are Agriculture, Tourism (many American’s) Pharmaceuticals (they make Viagra) and Financial Services.
The area known as Temple Bar is a mecca for bars, restaurants, Irish music and dancing that goes on until the wee small hours. Two of the band members from U 2 so it goes went into the Clarence Hotel in Temple Bar opposite the banks of the River Liffey. They were kicked out for being too scruffy and vowed to come back and buy the hotel which they did.
With a prime location in central Dublin and a tradition that is steeped in history, Croke Park has been at the heart of Irish sporting life for over a hundred years.
The home of the Gaelic Athletic Association is also worth a visit. Teams from around the country play Gaelic Football and Hurling and the stadium is nearly always full. Because the Irish are so passionate about their regions they play for nothing which was a big surprise. The park was the scene of the Sunday Bloody Sunday massacre on November 21st 1920 during the war of Irish independence when 14 civilians were killed during a game of Gaelic Football. 31 people died that day including 14 British soldiers. The band U2 had a successful song “Sunday Bloody Sunday” following a separate uprising in Northern Island in 1972
Written by John Savage