This week, the eyes of the world are on Ireland. Thursday March 17th is St Patrick’s Day and, as is customary, Ireland’s patron saint will be celebrated far and wide.
It’s estimated that more than 7 million people worldwide will attend St Patrick’s Day parades and other related events this week while more than 180 global landmarks will be ‘going green’ to mark the occasion, including the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Nelson’s Column in London, 7 World Trade Center (Ground Zero) in New York and the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés in Cannes.
It’s also estimated that more than 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed on March 17th although in the year 2016, St Patrick’s Day is about much more than pints of the black stuff and explaining the word ‘craic’ to bemused foreign visitors. (It means a lot of things, but basically it means fun.)
St Patrick’s Day is now a vitally important tool in the business of putting Ireland on the map. It was always thus, although if anything the importance of our national holiday has increased in recent years as the country went from boom to bust and back into recovery mode. Ireland may have been the fastest-growing economy in the world during the final quarter of 2015, but we still have a way to go.
For that reason, Paddy’s Day – not Patty’s Day! – is an unmissable opportunity to show the world why they should come and visit our shores; to tell the world why they should invest in our workforce and our infrastructure; to get the world eating and drinking Irish produce by whatever means necessary.
Our politicians do their bit, of course. Taoiseach Enda Kenny was at the Oval Office this week to present US President Barack Obama with the traditional bowl of shamrock. Tellingly, he emphasised “the importance of us continuing to trade, continuing to encourage investment, and to boost jobs and opportunity in our respective countries”.
Elsewhere, in the UK and France and Germany and much further afield, supermarkets have been setting up special stalls this week to promote Irish food and drink – once you taste your first packet of Tayto cheese and onion crisps, you’ll never look back.
The national tourist effort gets a huge boost at this time of year as well, as St Patrick’s Day provides the opportunity to make the world drool with images of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Ring of Kerry, the Hill of Tara, the jaw-dropping Giant’s Causeway, the soaring Cliffs of Moher and the endless sources of craic to be found in Dublin’s fair city. Let’s not forget the Skellig Islands either – thank you Star Wars!
Meanwhile, our own agency chief Owen Cullen is in the US this week meeting two of our partners in PRGN, of which Cullen Communications is Ireland’s sole member. Owen met up with the Boston-based Castle Group before travelling on to NY to meet Cooper Katz. These meetings are a fantastic way to exchange knowledge and discuss best PR practice – plus, as we tweeted, there are worse places to be during St Patrick’s week than Boston and New York!
Because that’s a big part of this week too – showing the world what it means to be Irish. We have an enviable reputation for conviviality, good humour, the ability to make friends wherever we go. Ireland of the welcomes. You’ll never beat the Irish. When Irish eyes are smiling. All that. Tomorrow, when the eyes of the world are on us, we’ll definitely be smiling. Hope you’ll join us.
A very happy St Patrick’s Day to all our friends, all around the world.