JOANNE O'RIORDAN: This summer, there is no place like home

WITH the recession worsening, holidaying abroad is a memory.

Holidaying at home is strange to me. I’m used to jetting off to Portugal, Lourdes, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and so West Cork or Killarney or Dublin are no-nos.

A holiday is a sunny country, on the beach, relaxing, forgetting your worries for a week. I can’t do that in Ireland, where I could be found by family if there was ever a problem.

But after getting a job as a speaker and travelling Ireland, I realised it isn’t so bad. I went to Bantry and I’ve never seen anything so pretty. Even the American tourists were walking the street ‘ooh’ing and aah’ing’. On a mini tour of West Cork, I went through Ballingeary, Gougane Barra, Rosscarbery, Union Hall, and two things surprised me: 1. how much we complain that villages are ‘boring’ and ‘lifeless’ and 2. how ideal these villages would be for tourists.

All they want is to visit a small place that has a safe beach.

Many Americans prefer places such as Dingle, Killarney, Ventry, and so on, to the cities like Dublin, Cork, or Galway.

So why don’t we promote these villages? Rural Ireland is slowly depopulating and all we can promote is ‘come to Dublin, look what is on in Dublin, come on down to Cork’.

Visitors don’t want cities. They don’t want to escape their own city air to go to more city air. They want to sit on the beach, and chill out with their friends and family.

Also, we use too many non-Irish products. My brother bought six pairs of GAA shorts in Croke Park and said “why are we going around wearing Adidas or Nike when we have O’Neill’s?”

He’s right. Why are we still so proud of our new Adidas shorts or Nike runners, when O’Neill’s make quality sports gear?

We also rarely buy Irish food; we go to Lidl or Aldi because it’s cheaper, instead of helping local farmers.

I’m not saying Lidl or Aldi aren’t pro-Irish, but wouldn’t you rather spend the money in a small corner shop to promote the local Irish economy?

During the Celtic Tiger, we forgot our identity. We’re all too fast to jump on the next plane to Paris, Milan, Barcelona, and the Algarve, and we’re all going to Adidas, River Island, and Nike to get the next up-and-coming fashion item (me included). Why, when everything is in front of us?

We should appreciate what a beauty Ireland is and inject ourselves with Irish pride. Sure, after all, everyone wants to be Irish.


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