The pluck of the Irish

IT is a bit late to be celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day but such is the Irish presence on the world stage it seems every day is an occasion for Irish celebration.

Despite being one of the world’s smallest nations the Irish presence punches well above its weight.

Ireland sets an example of what any small country can achieve.

In the United States the Irish are said to be second in terms of wealth and influence.

The Irish loomed large in English literature.

Many great literary figures, commonly thought of as English, are Irish.

Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker. Listening to Chopin’s nocturnes is one of life’s greatest reveries but it was Irishman, John Field who is the father of the piano nocturne.

As a young sailor I was bemused to discover when visiting Chile that their national hero is Bernard O’Higgins. He was Chilean but was the illegitimate son of Irishman Ambrosio O’Higgins (1720-1801).

Ambrosio settled in Spain and later served Spain.

He militarily consolidated much of what the conquistadores had won. He must have been a wise dad; his remarkable son is revered as the father of Chilean Independence.

In the Great War 37 Irish fighters were recipients of Britain’s highest war honour, the Victoria Cross; in the following war 8 recipients were Irish nationals. Not bad for a neutral country.

Off the field of battle the Paddies entertain us: Peter O’Toole, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Harris, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and need I go on. Most nations have inclinations one way or another. When it comes to orchestral music the Germans strut their stuff.

The Italians are untouchable where opera is concerned and in ballet the French are without equal. The Spanish, like the British, have certainly left their mark on history. Their talent when it comes to stealing that which isn’t theirs is truly the stuff of legends. Between the 12th Century and 1925 the Spanish spent 67 per cent of their ti

me at war, England could manage only a piffling 56 per cent of their time with sword drawn. There’s nothing much new there then.

The U.S. is playing catch-up. The Swedes find war revolting but have grown fat on manufacturing arms for warrior nations. It’s just that the Irish quietly go about penetrating and running everything and don’t make a River Dance spectacular out of it.

They are even running the airlines.

Ireland’s Willie Walsh, is Chief Executive of International Airlines Group (formed by merger between British Airways and Spain’s Iberia).

Michael O’Leary run’s Europe’s most popular (I didn’t say liked) airline.

Qantas boss is Irishman Alan Joyce and they’re joined by Irishmen in senior positions in Brunei, Singapore and Mexico national airlines.

Guinness Peat Aviation’s CEO, Tony Ryan founded Ryan Air and heads the world’s second biggest airline leasing company.

Joyce puts it down to something in the water; or the Guinness. The Irish don’t have it all their own way.

In 2009 German Christoph Mueller was appointed CEO of Irish national airlines Aer Lingus.

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