Today is St Patrick’s Day, cause of much careless misuse of green colouring, rocketing sales of Guinness, and celebrated not only in Ireland and around the world by Irish people nostalgic for their homeland, but – and probably in part because of said Guinness – also by plenty of people who aren’t Irish at all.
As we did in celebration of that other proud and beautiful Celtic nation,
Wales Scotland, back in January, I’d like you to join me in thanking this relatively tiny part of the world for giving us so much incredibly good stuff.
Then there are the literary giants that we all know of, such as Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, and those we have very much grown up with: the wonderful imaginations of C.S. Lewis, Abraham “Bram” Stoker and Jonathan Swift gave the world ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘Dracula’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, for example.
In fact, Ireland perhaps can claim the highest proportion of great writers, poets and playwrights of any nation.
It can also boast plenty of extremely funny men (Dave Allen, Frank Carson, Spike Milligan, Dara O’Briain, Dylan Moran) and one of the most gifted footballers ever to play the beautiful game, and one who truly did make it look beautiful: George Best.
We have Irishmen to thank for the modern tractor (Henry George “Harry” Ferguson), the caterpillar track (John Walker), the hypodermic needle and syringe (Francis Rynd) and the aircraft ejector seat (James Martin).
The man who found a treatment for leprosy (Vincent Barry) was Irish, as were the men whose names science has added to a law of gas (Robert Boyle), a type of algebra (George Boole) and a scale measuring wind strength (Francis Beaufort).
And, of course, there’s also the fearless humanitarian legend that is Bob Geldof, seen here at last month’s One Young World summit in typically charismatic form.
(I’ve not forgotten U2, before you ask, but I haven’t yet found it in my heart to forgive them for a current world tour which is comparable in terms of the carbon emissions it has so far produced to a return flight to Mars. Ah.)
So, there you have it. Your favourite Irish people, places and things, please.
Your opinions on Bob Geldof’s inspirational speech or U2’s arguably overly-excessive tour are also most welcome.
George Bernard Shaw is one of my favourite inspirations to hail from the Emerald Isle (and I think even that much-loved aphorist, Ron Geesin, would be proud of some of G.B.S.’ clever and witty observations):
We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.
Our necessities are few, but our wants are endless.
The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is.
The best reformers the world has ever seen are those who commence on themselves.
Sir Bob, I think it’s fair to say, would probably wholeheartedly concur.