Lifestyle

Monday 14 July 2014

Irish and proud!

U2 named as highest-earning band in the world. Photo: Getty Images

Cheer up! It's not all doom and gloom, you know. We are good at lots of things and here are just 10 of them

1 Golf

This island creates more top golfers per head of population than anywhere else in the world.

Graeme McDowell's victory at the US Open catapulted him up to 13th in the world rankings, just ahead of Padraig Harrington and four places behind Rory McIlroy, who, at just 21, is also indisputably the best young golfer in the world.

2 Boxing

We punch way above our weight in boxing.

Ireland scooped five medals at the recent European championships, second only to host nation Russia, which has a population 23 times bigger than ours. Two medals in the last Olympics wasn't a bad haul either.

3 Literature

Ireland's four Nobel prizes for Literature is still the most impressive record in the world for our size.

Our winners are Seamus Heany (1995), Samuel Beckett (1969), George Bernard Shaw (1925) and WB Yeats (1923).

4 Music

U2 seem to have been around forever but they still remain the 'Sweetest Thing' for rock fans.

They raked in $108m last year -- more than any other act and as much as Bruce Springsteen (2nd) and Madonna (3rd) combined. They were also the world's top touring act selling 1.3 million tickets.

If you add U2's album sales to those of Enya, Van Morrison, the Cranberries and the Corrs and you have collective total of 400 million for just five Irish acts.

5 Innovation

The benchmark IMD world competitiveness survey ranks the Irish third in the world for flexibility and adaptability in the workplace -- a key attraction for multinationals.

Many well-known inventions reflect this Irish spirit of innovation. Irishmen invented the tank, submarine, ejector seat, guided missile and a hand-held howitzer cannon.

The modern tractor is the brainchild of 'The Mad Mechanic', Harry Ferguson, who also dreamt up his own motorcycle, plane (becoming the first Irishman to fly), and the first Formula-One car.

Joe 'Spud' Murphy, founder of Tayto, not only invented cheese and onion crisps, his new method for seasoning led the way for all the flavours we enjoy today.

6 Rugby

We didn't win rugby's Grand Slam and European Cup this year but Ronan O'Gara did win the 2010 ERC European Player award for an outstanding 15 years playing for his province and his country, including a grand slam, several triple crowns, two Heineken Cups and a record haul of points in that competition.

7 Racing

Jockey Mick Kinane notched up an incredible six wins in Europe's top races last year, including an unprecedented treble in the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

This was the culmination of a 34-year career that saw him retire in style as the only jockey to win all the major European races as well as those in Australia, Japan, South Africa and Hong Kong.

8 Quality of Life

It may not feel like it, but Ireland still ranks as the number one country in the world for 'quality of life' in the benchmark Economist Intelligence Unit's survey, which assesses a wide range of factors including family and community life, and so on.

We were the first in the world to bring in no-smoking workplaces and a tax on plastic bags -- measures that have been followed globally.

We weren't the first to bring in free urban cycling but the Dublin Bike Scheme is the most successful in the world, pedalling its way through half a million journeys.

9 The economy

Sure, the economy is banjaxed and we're up to our eyes in debt. But there are positives even here.

A huge plus is the fact that 36pc of our population is under 25 years of age -- the youngest workforce in Europe.

We still are have the highest industrial output per capita among significantly sized EU countries.

The industrial powerhouse that triggered the boom has not gone away.

There are 1,000 multinationals here still churning out massive amounts of drugs, chemicals and computers.

Exports slipped back 2.3pc last year to €153bn but that's still pretty good when the EU average was a slump of 12.3pc.

10 Competitiveness

All the pain in dealing with the crisis is not for nothing.

Ireland is set to record the biggest gain in wage competitiveness across Europe -- a 9pc jump by 2011 -- according to the latest EU report.

Irish Independent

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