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25 reasons we love Ireland right now

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25 reasons we love Ireland right now Empty 25 reasons we love Ireland right now

Post by Admin on Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:42 am

http://www.tribune.ie/article/2010/feb/21/25-reasons-we-love-ireland-right-now/

25 reasons we love Ireland right now

1. We love Ireland because... we kick ass

Sheamus O'Shaunessy is a god. The 6'6" grappling ginger ledge (originally from Swords) has wrestled his way to the big time, defeating Greatest American Hero John Cena to claim the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) crown in a controversial pay-per-view bout stateside just before Christmas. Now the world is his. And the Irish rule. We think we just found the next lord mayor of Dublin.

2. We love Ireland because... Irish telly rocks

That's right! Shut up, haters! It's all well and good moaning on (and on, and on, and on) about the shiteous state of Irish television, but let's super-accentuate the positive here, and instead celebrate the unique charms of modern home-grown broadcasting: take TV3's Tonight With Vincent Browne, a bizarre, stream-of-consciousness ramble through the national psyche, complete with crazy psychedelic green-screen backdrops… Or RTé's Other Voices, the best music show around that isn't Later With Jools Holland. And what do you mean there's no decent comedy on? It's freaking hilarious! From Caroline Morahan's Cosmetic Surgery Show to the state of Paul Cunningham's hat, we're cracking up.

3. We love Ireland because... the recession is over (apparently)

It works like this: on a seasonally adjusted basis, from July to December 2009, there was a 0.3% increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On an annual basis, GDP fell by 7.4% in the year to the end of October 2009 – that's compared to a 7.9% decline in the preceding quarter. Now technically – given that the definition of recession is two quarters in a row of rising GDP – this means that Ireland has now technically exited recession. Reality may indeed suggest otherwise, but let's not quibble over semantics, eh?

4. We love Ireland because... now We're Cooking

Remember the days when lunch consisted of an overpriced cappuccino coupled with a overpriced and underwhelming panini/bagel-type thing? Those days are over. We're all about the well-stocked lunchbox these days – ooh behave, etc. Everybody's breaking out the cookbooks and getting creative in the kitchen. Stewing techniques have become a hot watercooler topic. And leftovers are lifesavers. Who would have guessed that the Aldi shopping bag would become the hottest fashion accessory of the season?

5. We love Ireland because... of Amy and Brian

She's officially Ireland's Loveliest Girl, and he's… well, he's BOD. And their wedding is going to be the most exciting social event of the summer, beating even Gerald Kean's upcoming nuptials to Lisa Murphy. All we know so far is that it's being held in Lough Rynn in Leitrim and already we've got lots of mileage predicting who will make Amy's dress (Synan O'Mahony perchance?), what's on the menu and what other celebs besides rugby players are invited.

6. We love Ireland because... of a boy called Skippy and a girl called Jo

We do love an auld book. And if, like us, you find it increasingly difficult to muster much enthusiasm for the latest worthy tome from the tired old gang of certified Irish literary heavyweights, then we suggest you procure a copy of Skippy Dies, the second novel by Dubliner Paul Murray. Why? Because it's the best thing we've read in an age, that's why. Skippy Dies is the epic tale of an overweight math genius and his love-struck roommate. Murray showed great promise with his 2003 debut, An Evening of Long Goodbyes – now a formidable young Irish talent has come of age, and it's a glorious thing.

We also have a crime-fighting heroine to match any in the form of Detective Inspector Jo Birmingham, the protagonist of Niamh O' Connor's fine novel, If I Never See You Again due for release in Spring. Birmingham is the streetwise cop who gets caught up in gangland warfare, investigating a number of linked brutal murders on Dublin's mean streets, and this is a brilliant and gritty debut from O'Connor, whose day job is as one of the country's top crime journalists.

7. We love Ireland because... pub theatre is making a comeback

We don't doubt that the heavy hitters in the Irish theatre world aren't producing work of the highest quality, but the most exciting new space in Dublin right now is The Plough – the pub across the road from the Abbey. Upstairs, writer and director Paul Walker, along with actor Karl Shiels (AKA Semper Fi Theatre Company), have set up shop; you'll find cutting-edge lunchtime and teatime plays from new talent, along with cabaret and readings of new work, all for buttons. The creative energy is tangible.

8. We love Ireland because... we're around the bend for Michael

As an 18-year old drama student, Michael Fassbender adapted and starred in a stage adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs; little did Mick know that, 13 years on, he'd be starring alongside one Bradley Pitt in QT's Oscar-nominated Inglourious Basterds. Life's a little funny that way. Born in Heidelberg and raised in Killarney, Fassbender's been paying his dues for a decade now, racking up the TV appearances before breaking into movies with a role in 300. Things started to get serious, however, with his unforgettable turn as Bobby Sands in Hunger. Then Quentin came knocking, and now he's The Next Great Irish Movie Star. And that's a fact. Does anyone remember him as the dude who swims the Atlantic to say sorry to his brother in that Guinness ad?

9. We love Ireland because... the weekends are glorious

Back in the day – we spent a fortune on Sundays. We'd get up, head into town and hit up the shops. There was always some frivolous and unnecessary lifestyle accessory to tempt us, and then we'd go and drop €20 on a poached eggs on a muffin with a bit of cheese sauce. No more. The weekends – and Sunday specifically – have been reclaimed and we are now finding new and interesting ways of passing the time that does not involve Dundrum Town Centre or mindless expenditure. We're checking out galleries, museums, parks and car boot sales, and calling around to our mates for tea and biccies and chats.

10. We love Ireland because... Imelda May is a superstar

The first proper Irish music success story in ages, Imelda May (born Imelda Clabby, fact fans) doesn't waste her time courting the fickle music press or participating in any deadening local scene; she's too busy travelling the globe and selling out shows. Fresh from her triumphant live turn alongside Jeff Beck at the Grammys, the rise of Miss May isn't about hype – it's about talent and good old-fashioned graft. This spring she's touring the US with Jamie Cullum. The sky's the limit for this Liberties belle.

11. We love Ireland because... we're feeling crafty

Here's the way it used to work – something broke, you chucked it and bought another one. These days, chances are that you can't afford another one. What to do? Fix it instead. Recovering consumers across the RecessioNation have rediscovered the delights of Doing It Yourself. We swear by essential online resource Videojug, where you can learn everything from removing a dent in your car to the fine art of decoupage. Mmm, decoupage. Trust us: absolutely everyone's on the Make & Just Do It buzz these days.

12. We love Ireland because... of our native film talent

Filmmaker Ken Wardrop's amazing and hilarious feature-length documentary His 'n' Hers, about the lives of 70 Irish women (and their relationships with men), was acclaimed at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it picked up a gong for Excellence In Cinematography. It's the essential Irish movie of 2010, bar none. Watch Wardrop's earlier awardwinning short Undressing My Mother via short film portal Babelgum.com – it's a stunner.

13. We love Ireland because... low-price fashions are on the way

We're excited about the fact that New Look, purveyor of the finest inexpensive, fashion-forward clothes, is taking over two floors of the Arnotts Project in the Jervis Street shopping centre, which means Dubliners will never have to head to the 'burbs or to the flagship store in Galway for their fashion fix. The Irish success story that is Penneys is ever expanding, as is TK Maxx... And we don't want to get your hopes up but there's a good chance that the cheap-as-chips Matalan will be finally coming to Irish shores.

14. We love Ireland because... prices are falling

The manufacturer's price of over 300 popular off-patent drugs just fell by 40% – if you want to ensure you're not getting fleeced by your pharmacist, try checkthelist.ie, a nifty new website run by the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association... And after a decade that saw the country's major concert promoters ride us sideways on ticket prices, slowly but surely prices for gigs are finally dropping... Oh, and it's a renter's market all over again – rents have dropped between 17-20% in the last 12 months alone. Not very consoling news for the hordes who signed up for preposterous mortgages, admittedly...

15. We love Ireland because... we're dreaming by the old canal

The Grand Canal theatre is spanking new and making us excited about gig going again. It's Ireland's only 2,000-seat theatre, so it's perfect for those acts who wouldn't fill up the O2. Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables are confirmed for next year. And Rufus Wainwright is coming too. It's wonderfully roomy, the sound is amazing and Live Nation, the promoters behind it, have plans for a third and more intimate venue, as well another one in Cork.

16. We love Ireland because... of sex, lies and Ryanair

Steven Soderbergh's new Irish-set film is called Knockout. It's an international spy thriller starring Extreme Fighting heroine Gina Carano, alongside Ewan McGregor and the divine Michael Fassbender. Locations being used include the Docklands, the Shelbourne and Dublin Airport, where the protagonist will be stuck in random queues for six hours before missing her Ryanair flight… possibly. Anyhow, Steven Soderbergh is a genius. So we're excited.

17. We love Ireland because... the ball's in our court

What do you mean Louk Who? Louk Sorensen was the first Irish tennis player to win at a Grand Slam event. The 25-year-old right-hander (his father, Sean, played at Wimbledon) has set his sights on a spot in the world singles rankings – and it will be his. We love him. Here we go, here we go, etc…

18. We love Ireland because... of Lyric FM

The only major Irish radio station that doesn't do inane jocks and/or wall-to-wall depression, Lyric remains the go-to option for anyone seeking an escape from the benumbing mediocrity of Irish daytime radio, playing host as it does to Ireland's Greatest Radio Show, John Kelly's The JK Ensemble – it rolls from 2pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday. From Charlie Mingus to the Chieftains, Vampire Weekend to Vivaldi, JK likes to mix it up. Our choice guilty pleasure has to be Marty Whelan's morning slot: once the Silver Fox breaks out Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka singing 'Pure Imagination', we're sold.

19. We love Ireland because... we got five Oscar nods

That's Best Animated Feature (The Secret of Kells), Best Animated Short Film (Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty), Best Short Film (The Door), plus two FX nods – animation supervisor Richard Baneham for Avatar, and sound mixer Peter J Devlin for Star Trek. All right, Saoirse Ronan was robbed for The Lovely Bones, but there's always next year.

20. We love Ireland becuase...Dublin airport's looking swish

Flying out of Dublin is going to become a much more pleasurable experience when second new terminal T2 opens in November – and it would want to be considering the project cost over €600m. It's going to be bright, airy and will see some 15 million passengers travelling through it each year. And now that the concept of mini-breaks in European cities every other weekend is dead in the water, we're predicting less queues.

21. We Love Ireland because... The 'Late Late' is watchable again

No, seriously. After years of viewing RTé's ageing flagship through splayed fingers, awaiting the next excruciating faux pas and/or stage invasion, Team Tubridy has made the Late Late its own. The other week the presenter chatted to Bishop Pat Buckley and his fiancé Eduardo. Times change: from The Bishop And The Nightie to The Bishop And His Filipino Hubbie – we've come a long way, baby.

22. We love Ireland because... we like sitting on our arses

Stay-at-home holidays are the absolute business. Let's qualify that statement: by stay-at-home holiday, we don't mean hauling your ass to some godforsaken B&B in the midlands for a rainy weekend of paintballing. No thanks. We're talking Stay. At. Home. And don't go anywhere at all. Unplug the phone. Get a decent DVD box-set in. Read Skippy Dies. Watch some silly telly, just like the Royle Family. What do you mean that's not much of a holiday? Give it a bash.

23. We love Ireland because... we are scientists

Trinity College's Science Gallery is about to turn two. And it's just been nominated for the 2010 European Museum Of The Year Award. We do love the Science Gallery – it remains a refreshing antidote to the dull worthiness of the majority of Irish museums, and a choice family destination, a place where science and art collide, with glorious results. 500,000 punters can't be wrong.

24. We love Ireland because... Stuart Townsend is single

That should keep the Xposé posse busy for months.

25. We love Ireland because... we care. We really care

There has been a massive upswing in people doing voluntary work. That's right – we've got some free time, and we're doing something useful with it. If you haven't done so already, get your finger out pronto – good places to begin info-wise are Volunteering Ireland (volunteeringireland.com) or, if you fancy something a little further afield, Voluntary Service International (vsi.ie). Karma will reward you in buckets AND spades.

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