Ireland 2023: An Irishman's Diary


50 things I love about Ireland in the 2020s

1. The Luas Link Line.

2. The National Children's Hospital.

3. Getting to Dublin Airport in under 20 minutes on the Metro.

4. The new airport Terminal Three. Award-winning architecture and a relief from the desperate overcrowding in T2.

5. Ryanair deciding to use Knock as its Dublin base, with onward bus connections. That helped as well.

6. The Flann O’Brien Bridge.

7. The beautiful new Zen garden in Poolbeg Street, opposite Mulligans. Hard to believe it used to be Hawkins House.

8. Dublin’s umbrella rental scheme.

9. The Libeskind-designed banking wing of Mountjoy Jail and its adjoining stone-breakers' yard.

10. Those gourmet horse burger bars that have popped up everywhere.

11. My GPS Auto-drive car bringing me home from the pub at night and always remembering to stop off at the chipper.

12. My 4-year-old grandson programming the GPS Auto-drive for me because I can’t do it.

13. The fashion among teenagers for buying print editions of newspapers as an act of rebellion against their online-generation parents.

14. I was walking past a news stand the other day and a headline jumped out at me. It turned out to be one of the new 3-D magazines - they’re all the rage now too.

15. 3-D magazines promising “in-depth” news coverage. It’s a cracker.

16. Ireland’s rise and rise as a rugby power.

17. Seven Nations weekends in Dublin: especially when the Romanian fans are in town.

18. Craig Gilroy still scoring tries in the green shirt - 76 and counting - after all these years.

19. The GAA’s recent u-turn on allowing pitch invasions in Croke Park.

20. Although, let’s face it, when Monaghan won the All-Ireland last year, they could never have stopped us.

21. Seeing Kerry gain promotion from Division 4 of the league, finally, after a decade in the doldrums. Their decline was fun for a while, but Gaelic football needs them.

22. The new political maturity in Northern Ireland, with respect for all traditions.

23. Orange bands playing the bodhrán during last July’s historic parade up the Falls Road.

24. South Armagh republicans agreeing to fly the tricolour only on the President’s birthday and 270 other designated days.

25. Signs that the so-called “Arthur’s Week” - Guinness’s annual drinking festival - is waning in popularity. Maybe there are limits to what evil marketing geniuses can achieve.

26. The quiet dignity of the Saipan 20th anniversary commemorations

27. The fact that Roy and Mick now talk to each other again.

28. RTÉ soccer panel - Billo, Dunphy, and Giles - being listed for protection under heritage legislation.

29. The continued existence of Ireland’s Own magazine, against all the odds.

30. I particularly enjoyed the nostalgia of their recent special issue looking back on the financial crisis: “We were where we were.”

31. The plethora of events to mark this year’s Brendan Behan centenary.

32. The fact that Irish Association of House Painters is hosting a Behan commemoration - with workshops, demonstrations, children’s face-painting, etc - and not leaving the whole thing to the literary crowd.

33. The continuing artistic development of Jedward.

34. It seemed all wrong when they announced that their latest album would be a “re-imagining” of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. Yet somehow it works.

35. Ireland winning the Eurovision again, thanks to the Rubber Bandits

36. The reformed Seanad - especially the decision to fill the seats by public lottery.

37. Watching the Seanad the election results on Winning Streak.

38. Dublin’s award-winning street urinals, disguised as Georgian doorways.

39. Henry Street at Christmas: “Get the last of the iPhone 20s - two for a fiver.”

40. Those draconian new On-the-Spot fines for dog-fouling. Tough on Spot, but good for the environment.

41. The decision to make losing the run of yourself an offence under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act

42. The way people have stopped calling everything that's even slightly famous “iconic”. That used to really annoy me.

43. RTÉ’s self-imposed ban on suggestions that the dead man was known to gardaí.

44. Season 13 of Love/Hate. Some people think they’re tearing the arse out of it now, but I still enjoy it.

45. The extraordinary success of that new Chinese business park at Cong, in Co Mayo.

46. Or “Hong Cong”, as the local wags have called it.

47. The new Galway City bypass, bypassing the old bypass. A big improvement in traffic flow.

48. Getting that honorary doctorate from Trinity recently for my services to Irish journalism.

49. The discovery of a vast oil deposit off the coast of Donegal last year.

50. The inspired decision to buy shares in the exploration company a month beforehand, when they still cost nothing.

*This article is part of the Ireland 2023 supplement published in The Irish Times. The supplement, a project to support Hireland, seeks to envisage how a newspaper might reflect a brighter future for Ireland a decade on.

The Irish Times & Hireland

Hireland is a not-for-profit social movement. It aims to contribute to Ireland's recovery by helping to generate one job at a time by tapping into collective entrepreneurship and by underlining people are central to the solution of Ireland?s current economic and social difficulties. To date its efforts have helped create more than 4,000 new jobs. Run on a voluntary basis and including many young job seekers it challenges employers, institutions of State and Irish people to think differently about how they can play their part in creating a better future for Ireland, most notably in creating jobs.

It also believes that envisaging better conditions for the Irish economy and society helps improve sentiment and translates into an increase in genuine job creation, sooner rather than later when there is overwhelming evidence of up-turn.

As part of their activities for 2013, they wished to feature how a newspaper might reflect a brighter future for Ireland a decade on. The Irish Times is supporting the project by publishing today a special edition of what, perhaps, might be carried in the issue of January 30th, 2023, with contributions from reporters, columnists, outside contributors and letter writers.

The contents may be fanciful, come with a humorous twist or be tinged with wishful thinking, but it is primarily designed to highlight some better options, broader thinking and the possible merits of pursuing certain courses in an imperfect world.

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