A few short hours ago I arrived back in Dublin airport after another trip across the Atlantic. As I move ever closer to my 100th country visited, I am becoming more and more familiar with the many differences between my island of Ireland and the rest of the world. I am certainly nowhere nearly as articulate as many fine men and women who have come before me but I feel the need to express something inside me as I think about the beautiful nation of ours.

We have our faults. We are not immune to corruption. Our politics is not that different to most countries throughout the world. Many of us are closed-minded and judgmental. We are quick to pass comment on people who stand out or are different. We can be a little too cynical and extremely argumentative. Sometimes it seems we only argue because we don’t want to agree. We are a little too humble and lacking in confidence. Worst of all there is that horrible trait of begrudgery, a dislike of other people doing well; a need to bring them down, their ‘notions’. Who do they think they are?  That kind of thing. We haven’t lived up to the ideals of our 1916 proclamation as we would have hoped.

At the same time, there is an indescribable beauty about this land. When arriving back into the country there is a realness and a friendliness that you don’t get anywhere else. In some places you get realness and in some places you get friendliness but I’ve never been anywhere quite like here that perfectly combines both. People are friendly because it is how they are. They are not pandering.

Our countryside is stunningly beautiful. From the Cliffs of Moher down to the Ring of Kerry and up to Donegal and, indeed, right across the land, we have so much to see. Ancient castles and tombs, a rich cultural history and incredible stories about incredible places. We are a super place for tourists to visit. But our real asset, once again, comes back to the people.

There are stories of the Irish fans travelling to the European Championships and, in fact, any big sporting occasion. The stories usually end in other countries falling in love with the Irish. Why is that? Very simply it’s because we are the most charming nation on earth. We aren’t the ‘best’ at many things, but we are the most fun. It is this desire for fun and as we call it ‘craic’ that makes us so special. It is our filter. We are always looking for it and it is sometimes really needed, especially in this world.

Our nation is built with memories past and present of some of the greatest literary talents the world has ever known. From Oscar Wilde to James Joyce, we have produced amazing poets, writers, musicians. We have produced terrific sporting heroes. Every once in a while, someone comes along who becomes the world’s best. But what truly makes us stand out is how we relate to others. Even take Conor McGregor. A two weight world champion in the sport of MMA, it is not just his ‘confidence’ and ‘charisma’ that has made him one of the biggest sports stars in the world. It is his ability to have a laugh, to make people laugh. It is an essential Irish quality that makes us connect.

My country has its faults and flaws like many others. I often wish we were more open, supportive and positive. At the same time, the qualities of the Irish people more than make up for it. Beautiful Ireland is what it is because of the spirit that has been with us for generations. We are the storytellers. The joke tellers. The poets. The writers. We are the underdogs. The fighters. The under privileged. I love you Ireland. I love how I feel when I arrive home. I love the familiarity of what you stand for. I love the flexibility and the bending of rules. I love the specific words that only we have. I love the accents from every part of the land. I love the tremendous pride we have in those that represent us on the world’s stage. Beautiful Ireland.

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