Appy Enda woos techies with bell-ringing endorsement

A large contingent of platform huggers witness Kenny’s Nasdaq moment

Enda stood out from the crowd – the lone political geek in a suit and tie wearing a goofy smile. Go Enda!


What an honour – a first for Ireland (ringing the bell in Dublin to open trading on the Nasdaq) and a first for our punctuality-challenged Taoiseach (turning up on time to do it.)

Go Taoiseach!



He’s no stranger to the practice of ringing opening bells at stock markets in New York. This one was different though – he was performing the function remotely yesterday.

Thousands of delegates to the Dublin Web Summit crowded into the main hall in the RDS to witness the Taoiseach's ground breaking restyling of My Ding-A-Ling.

Although in the end, after a very big build-up, there wasn’t much ding to Enda’s ling. It probably sounded far better across the Atlantic, where the event was beamed live on Nasdaq Tower in Times Square without hordes of pumped-up techies screeching “Woo!” at the drop of an app.

The RDS stage was packed with digital “founders” for the countdown to Enda’s big moment. These ceremonies always seem to attract a large contingent of platform huggers.

We half expected to see a familiar helmet of blonde hair among the smiling men (this event seemed overwhelmingly male), but there was no sign of Denis O’Brien this time.

Two huge screens in the darkened hall counted down the seconds to opening time. Enda emerged to a throbbing soundtrack wearing a Miley Cyrus microphone headset and we prayed he wouldn't set another record by become Ireland's first twerking Taoiseach.

He got a fantastic reception from the wooing multitude.

“Thank you!” he roared. “Welcome to Dublin, capital of Ireland. Welcome to Ireland, the new capital of the digital world. Welcome, America.”

The crowd was on its feet. Arms in the air, holding up a forest of tablets and smart phones.

But mortifyingly, in the new capital of the digital world, the wifi wasn’t working.

“Can you believe it?” asked a German journalist next to us. “This is a web summit with no wifi. I’m supposed to be live-tweeting this.”

We gently broke the news that the new capital of the digital world wouldn’t have any water either if she wanted to take a shower at the end of the day.

An undercurrent of electronic music pulsed urgently as the Taoiseach spoke.

“Ringing the Nasdaq bell from Dublin is symbolic of this country’s prime position as a hub of digital enterprise and innovation”, he bellowed in the course of his ringing endorsement of Ireland as a place to do business.

Whereupon our German friend hooted a happy little woo. “I have the wifi again!”

Enda, meanwhile, was giving it the hard sell. He’s good at this.

“Our culture embraces change, embraces new challenges, embraces new ideas, it injects life into business. Here in Ireland we are proud to be recognised as one of the best small countries in the world in which to do business.”

If not to take a shower.

There was also a passing mention of the vexed tax question: “We are the most open economy in the western world and we celebrate our pro-business ethos and environment without hesitation.”

And somewhere in an office in Dublin’s docklands, Mary O’Rourke’s son Feargal, international corporate tax expert extraordinaire, was probably emitting a contented little “Woo!” of his own.

A woman wearing serious headphones with a very loud voice choreographed the proceedings for Nasdaq. She shouted instructions at the platform party – bunch up, wave, wave again. Enda obliged with a fine display of jazz hands.

The final countdown. The music swelled, bass notes boomed out and the crowd began to roar. The people on stage began to applaud themselves.

We felt slightly ashamed of our notebook and pen, anticipating a tap on the shoulder at any moment as a precursor to being led out in disgrace.

“Three, two, one . . .”

Enda moved his hand, apparently pressing a pad on the Perspex console before him.

The neon green backdrop pulsated. The crowd screamed. There was loud music, an overwhelming chorus of “woos” and the merest hint of an alarm bell in the distance.

And that was it.

“What just happened?” asked a photographer.

A nice young man offered to help The Irish Times down the steps from the stage. He must have seen the notebook.

The Taoiseach met Adam Barry (11) from Malahide, who told him about coding and how to develop apps. Then we heard a loud thwack. That would have been our Appy Clappy Taoiseach demonstrating the application of a high-five.

It’s wise to be nice to everyone at the Dublin Web Summit. The place is coming down with billionaires, millionaires and the potentially minted.

The Taoiseach did an old-fashioned doorstep later on for the notebook-and-pen brigade. They wanted to know about bailout backstops and same-sex marriage.

Needless to say, there was no high-fiving.