‘Wexford story not being told in USA’
Wexford-born musician Pierce Turner was incensed when he picked up an official Tourism Ireland magazine in New York which featured promotional material and photographs of nearly every county except his own.
Pierce who performs regularly in New York where he has had a base for many years, was attending the launch reception for a new Jim Sheridan movie at Ireland House, the centre for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University.
'Everyone who was anyone in the Irish community in New York was there. I happened to see the brochures on a table and picked one up out of boredom. I was keen to see what part of Wexford they had included and it really pissed me off when I read through the magazine and realised there was barely a mention of my home county', said Pierce. 'I felt like I was a spy in the opposite camp'.
The only reference to Wexford in the 50-page magazine were two small paragraphs of 20 words on the Kennedy Homestead and 16 words on Hook Lighthouse despite a featured section on Ireland's Ancient East and Viking Ireland.
'Nobody in New York knows anything about Wexford. They assume by our conspicuous absence from these kind of publications that it's some kind of ugly place not worth visiting. I wonder why nobody in Ireland gets annoyed about this. Most of the east coast of Ireland is excluded'.
'obviously what happens is that people from the West of Ireland are better at lobbying for their areas. I'm not criticising them. I'm criticising whoever represents us. Who the hell is supposed to be lobbying for Wexford'.
'This could be worth millions for Wexford. The story of Wexford is not being told in America which is a major market' said Pierce whose comments came shortly after Kelly's Hotel in Rosslare, Curracloe beach, Monart Destination Spa, Aldridge Lodge, the Amber Springs Hotel and the Hook won top awards in the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards.
'Look at it this way. Not even the National Opera House or the Opera Festival was mentioned. Wexford is a wonderful place. It's where the Irish go on vacation. You could go on for aeons about the history and the culture, not to mention the physical beauty of it'.
'It's extraordinary. You have to ask 'why'. Wexford deserves to be promoted as much as any other country. One obvious reason is that the West of Ireland is where most people emigrated to the US from. That is the power source.'
'I think it's time to do something about it. I've been concerned about this for years but when I picked up that Tourism Ireland magazine and saw Wexford excluded, I thought here's the proof. It's time to fight back', said Pierce.
'It's time we stood up for ourselves. It's not just a question of fairness. All the time I've been in America I've been aware that this part of the country is excluded'.
'When I talk to Wexford people about it, they have this sense of fairness and point out that other areas are excluded too. It's true there are other areas omitted from this brochure but I'm not from these other places. I'm from Wexford.'