Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland and Fáilte Ireland, (‘Welcome’, the national tourism development agency), have released Ireland Inspires to celebrate Ireland’s national day.
The clip has made its mark on social media with #IrelandInspires gaining significant traction. At a time where Ireland has endured considerable economic, political and social turmoil, the clip manages to acknowledge such troubles without preventing a celebration of all which is Irish. The clip moves seamlessly between moments which are humorous, describing Ireland being home to the world’s greatest goal keeper ‘for one moment only’ (Patrick “Packie” Bonner in the 1990 FIFA World Cup), and the poignant, acknowledging ‘those who left’ Ireland with scenes of the Rowan Gillespie’s Great Famine Memorial of the northern bank of the River Liffey in Dublin resulting in the world being filled with ‘O’Briens, Murphys and Kennedys’.
Whilst making reference to Ireland possessing ‘the youngest workforce in the EU’, in perhaps an effort to counter recent claims that many young Irish have had little choice to immigrate in recent years due to rising unemployment and limited opportunities. It instead presents immigration as Ireland’s gift to the world. Unlike typical tourism videos, this clip does not shy away from acknowledging the economic and unemployment crises of recent years; perhaps because it would be impossible to do so given the toll such events have taken on Irish politics and society. Instead, in also points out the fact that ‘Ireland is the first Eurozone country to successfully exit an economic assistance program’ and that despite massive job losses ‘1200 jobs a week are now being created’; implying that Ireland in 2014 may just be turning the corner. In this respect, the clip invokes to classic spirit of Irish optimism even in times of calamity and the ability to weather the bad times and bounce back.
Rather than just relying on the stereotypical Irish success in literature, the arts and tourism, this film highlights the country’s recent successes in sustainability, scientific research, software & technology and adaptability in the workforce. In describing the large amount of companies setting up headquarters in Ireland, there is unsurprisingly no reference to that fact that Ireland possesses one of the lowest corporate tax rates in Europe, and that the presence of such companies arguably has little economic benefit to Ireland as a whole. However, it also suggests a desire for Ireland to write new success stories in the 21st century, and to move on from the conflict, high levels of immigration and financial troubles which have characterised recent decades.
The video is accompanied by Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow’s 2011 reworking of Steve Winwood’s 1986 track Higher Love. It is an interesting choice of music; neither cheerfully upbeat nor patriotic, as tourism or nationalist video accompaniments tend to be, it simultaneously reflects the reverence to the more sombre times and beloved nature of the country. It is beautiful in simplicity, and as a love song to Ireland. La fheile Padraig sona duit. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.