Great Europeans

THE PLUCK OF THE IRISH

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

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 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. Ambrosia 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 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, eight recipients were Irish nationals. Not bad for a neutral country.

Off the field of battle the Paddies entertain us: Gay Byrne, Dave Allen, Peter O’Toole, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Harris, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and need I go on.

Most nations’ have a reputation for 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% of their time at war England could manage only a piffling 56% of their time at war. There’s nothing much new there then. America’s 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 was Chief Executive of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. 

Michael O’Leary runs Europe’s most popular 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. ~ Michael Walsh.

CARDIFF, WALES – FEBRUARY 07: Players of Ireland stand for the National Anthem prior to the Guinness Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of RISE OF THE SUN WHEELEUROPE ARISE TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROESMEGACAUST,  DEATH OF A CITYWITNESS TO HISTORY, THE BUSINESS BOOSTERTHE FIFTH COLUMN VOLUME I and IIFOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAKIMMORTAL BELOVEDTHE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG,  THE RED BRIGANDSRANSACKING THE REICH ,    SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH: ARNO BREKER AND REICH SCULPTORS  SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD RIECH:  JOSEF THORAK AND REICH SCULPTORS ,   SCULPTURES OF THE THIRD REICH VOLUME III Porcelain and Reich Sculptors, The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise , THE DOVETAILS , SEX FEST AT TIFFANY’STHE AMOROUS GHOST AND ENCOUNTERS and other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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