3. – 4. Schuljahr
When I first came to Ireland in 2006, as the apprentice of an Irish storyteller, my friends back in Germany asked me: So, what’s it like? I still remember my answer.
Take everything you ever imagined about Ireland and it is true – only a hundred times better.
Now, after moving here, marrying an Irishman, working and raising a child in Ireland, do I still think the same?
As with every country, there is more to Ireland than meets the eye. The image of Ireland is often that of an island mysteriously untouched by modern times. What comes to mind first are the rolling green hills, the crashing waves on rocky shores, the high cliffs and happy sheep, the small cottages and cosy pubs, Irish dancing … and, yes, leprechauns with their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Hardly anyone might first think of Dublin’s Silicon Docks, the home not only to Google’s European Headquarters but also to many international high-tech companies that settled here over two decades ago during the boom which made Ireland generally known as the “Celtic Tiger”.
When we think of Dublin, it is the Temple Bar part of town with its colourful jumble of pubs and buskers that comes to mind, or cobbled streets roamed by the ghost of famous fishmonger Molly Malone, and it might elude us that Dublin is in fact one of the most expensive cities in Europe.
So why is it that a modern, thriving European country has the image of a mysterious island, set slightly out of time?
For one, it is an image that Ireland, or more precisely its tourist industry, likes to project of itself. Ireland has a rich cultural heritage with folklore, music and dancing that is very much part of its identity. This heritage is kept alive by organisations like Poetry Ireland or the Heritage Council as well as by Gaeltacht areas that are dedicated to keeping the Irish language alive. It is also used by the tourism industry. One example is the leprechaun: “a little fella”, as they say here, with ruddy cheeks and a beard, an oversized green hat, and a pot of gold. On Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrated all over the world, the leprechaun is the most popular choice of costume for the traditional parade. This mystical little creature is so strongly associated with Ireland that there is even a Leprechaun Museum in Dublin (see photo 1 ). An ingenious, slightly different museum, it attracts tourists to its doors who hope to learn everything about leprechauns. However, once you have paid the entry fee, you are led into a small, dark corridor by your guide and told: “Now that you have paid the money, it’s safe to tell you that there are no leprechauns in Irish mythology. Sorry!”
After a first outcry from the tourists, the guide goes on to tell you that the leprechaun myth was mainly imported back to Ireland by American-Irish coming to visit their homeland and that “if you want to hear about the actual “little people” (or the “good people” as you’re better off calling them) then you have come to the right place.” Tourists are then in for a treat of interactive exhibition rooms exploring Ireland’s rich mythology and folklore. This tongue-in-cheek humour is typical of the way the Irish treat their own image.
There is more to it than that, though. Apart from the tourism industry, there is a great appreciation in Ireland of its heritage, its stories, music, and dance. Irish dancing, famous well outside Ireland, is a big part of local festivals. It is popular in all age groups and offered as an activity in many schools. Among Irish children, hurling takes the first place, though. This fast-paced sport is rumoured to have been invented by the fairies, or so I was told, and draws a bigger following here than...
Ireland – just what you’d expect? - Tradition und Tourismus, Irish Folk und Feen – und vieles mehr