Comment: Taking pride in ourselves

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The fact that St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world reflects well on the Irish.

The fact that St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world reflects well on the Irish.

There is no other nation with an ‘international day’ like March 17. From Timahoe to Tokyo and from Abbeyleix to Abu Dhabi , there will be some form of celebration of Irishness.

There is no doubt but that many of the celebrations will be more plastic Paddy than authentic. Many will also be organised to attract customers to pubs. However, the vast majority will be real.

Right around Laois there were celebrations this past weekend. In the face of the economic mess, the parades reflected a nation that has not lost its sense of pride.

In many ways we need more of these celebrations. The USA has a number of public holidays to recognise the achievements of its citizens.

The Irish will often express their national pride through sporting achievements such as Katie Taylor winning Olympic Gold or an Irish trained horse winning at Cheltenham.

But we find it hard to unify behind other success or historic moments. It is time to consider putting more days on the map to celebrate achievements and sacrifice than are greater than sporting wins.

There are a number of public holidays in the year which are referred to blandly as bank holidays. Is it not time that these days were used to mark independence from Britain or other historic moments such as the 1913 lockout?

Great leaders such as Padraig Pearse and Michael Collins, are not recognised either, but should be formally celebrated.

Recognising such events and people each year could play a vital role in giving us a sense of direction that could lead us out of the recession and build a stronger sense of Irishness.