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17 reasons to feel proud today





The place of Ireland's national day in popular culture was neatly summed up by that great sage Homer Simpson: "It's been St Patrick's Day for hours, and I'm not drunk yet."

Yes, a lot of drinking will be done today, but something else is happening too, something remarkable: an unselfconscious celebration of our country.

Do St David's Day in Wales or St George's Day in England have the same resonance? In both cases, the national narrative is too complex to allow a wholehearted celebration.

America's Thanksgiving is not marked much outside the US, and even there, the early treatment of the native peoples casts a shadow over the turkey and pumpkin pie.

But all over the world, cities are hosting St Patrick's Day parades.

No other country can generate such goodwill and fellow-feeling. Why? Because there is something about Ireland that makes it easy for other nations to identify with us.

One of the reasons people like Ireland and the Irish is because we are a small country with few enemies. Our history told of poverty, struggle and injustice. We were a plucky underdog, and everyone admires one of those.

This year's celebrations, however, may not be as joyous as those of previous years. Our story has become a little more complicated recently, a little more encumbered.

The economic boom and bust gave it another twist, one that we have yet to make sense of ourselves. Can we really party hard with the Troika at the till?

The simple answer, in the words of Barack Obama, is: Yes we can.

We may have lost our economic sovereignty (temporarily), but we have not lost our wit, creativity, spontaneity, or our hope.

In this down-but-not-out spirit, we have chosen 17 things about Ireland that can still make us proud.

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