By Jas Singh
For a country with only 4.6 million people, the Republic of Ireland definitely punches above it’s weight. It’s one of the richest places to live in the world in terms of GDP per capita. With only 1.8 million people, Northern Ireland is not far behind.
Today is St. Patrick’s day, a public holiday in both countries.
We all know and love an Irish person or two. I’ve been fortunate to work with some really great people from both countries over the years. There’s something special about Irish – something that makes them stand out. Maybe something lucky?
For a culture that is so small, the Irish have achieved massive amounts. The list of famous people from there is too long to mention. U2. Colin Farrell. The worlds best golfer Rory McIlroy. Not to mention the thousands of citizens across the Americas, Europe and Asia who are still proud of their Irish ancestry.
The lure of the Irish is even appealing to others. Millions of tourists flock to Ireland each year. Even companies such as Intel, Microsoft and Google have invested heavily in the region.
So what makes the Irish so distinctive? As a culture why are they are so successful?
Below are a few reasons why we all can’t help loving the Irish.
They are immensely proud
Few nations are as patriotic as the Irish. Trust me, I have the Irish friends to prove it.
Although depending on our views we can often agree or disagree with others, all of us respect people who take pride in who they are. It shows confidence. We gravitate towards them.
Although pride in large doses individually can be a problem, often for a group of people it can bring unity. Strong communities. A common cause. Combined effort – often an essential ingredient in success.
Any event to do with Ireland becomes a national obsession.
The political landscape. Economic relationships with other countries. The rugby. Even the Eurovision song contest. This ability to stick together and pride in who they are makes the Irish stand out. Which becomes infectious – influencing others, whether native or not.
They have faith
The majority of Irish people are deeply religious. It’s a big part of a person’s family life. In fact even St. Patrick’s day itself originated from the traditional death date of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland during the Roman era.
Whether you are religious or not, few would argue that religion generally develops faith. And faith is an essential ingredient in success for all ventures – personal, career or business.
Faith is what makes you take the first step, even when you have no experience of what to do. Faith is what keeps you going, even when others say you’re wasting your time. Faith is what gives you the courage to face your fears. And most important of all, true faith is what prevents you from taking unethical short-cuts – with the belief that being fair and honest at all times will always win in the long run.
In fact according to a past study by Georgetown University, The Republic of Ireland has one of the largest rates of regular mass attendance in the western world – with a whopping 48% of people attending church at least once a week.
The Irish believe.
They embrace change, but they hold on to their identity
From personal experience, one of the great things about the Irish is how strong their identity is. And how much they emphasize it. They are proud of their roots and their identity is as strong as ever.
Simply visiting the place will demonstrate this. It’s beautiful – with views and scenery that are thousands of years old. They’ve held on to and protected their country and perhaps most impressive of all – because they have wanted to. Not tempted by the riches of property development and modernisation that has tempted many a once lush and rural nation.
And this goes for everything they do. Their traditions. Their religion. Their sports (although sorry, still can’t figure out hurling to this day guys). Even their accent – you’ll never find an Irish person who will change that, I promise you.
Yet at the same time, what makes them so successful is their willingness to embrace change for the good as well. Although they have a strong identity, as a culture they have also shown open-mindedness.
For example, The Republic was the 11th highest country in the world in terms of gender equality last year (previously it has been a lot higher). It was also the 4th most charitable country in the world. Ireland was also one of the first countries in 2002 to adopt the Euro currency.
And the Republic of Ireland in particular has also invested heavily for growth in high-tech industries such as media, technology and telco. In fact, so much so that it’s capital Dublin now houses more than a third of it’s entire population.
They have fun!
But possibly most endearing of all, is the attitude that many Irish people have towards life. They know how to have fun.
Boy do they know how to party. It’s ingrained as part of their DNA. The love of music. Getting together with the local community down the pub. The love of dancing. And their rich cuisine – Irish stew, boxty, coddle, soda bread – washed down with a fresh pint of Guinness of course…
Even the Irish wake is now world famous. What a great attitude to death – rather than just focus on despair, they take the opportunity to celebrate someone’s life. Wouldn’t we all want that for our loved ones when we have to say goodbye?
You can never judge a single person on an entire culture, nor should you.
But it’s always good to try and learn the best things about others. It’s the only way to be positive. It’s the only way to grow.
Hiring managers can learn a lot from the positive attitudes of the Irish, so they can look for these traits in others.
Happy St. Patick’s day everyone.
Make my Guinness a cold one….
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