Why I spoke out about the Royals visiting the same old places their parents, grandparents and great-great-great grandparents.
The recent visit of the newlywed royals Harry and Meghan to the very same places Harry’s Dad, grandmother and grandfather is simply daft. Our little country is teeming with talent and as the world’s media descended on Dublin City for 24 hours, surely it’s time for us to do something different. While the occasion was a fantastic opportunity for Ireland to glow and glisten across all media, there are more interesting, more relevant places to visit for the next one.
At the outset, they were more than truly welcomed and the visit was fantastic. Equally compounded that they chose Dublin as their second trip away after Belfast, the next trip being Australia. Some might say it was a very clever charm offensive by the UK pre-Brexit.
The occasion proved to be a perfect backdrop to do something different. One of the places they visited in their 24 hour trip was the Famine Memorial on Dublin’s quays. As we bow our heads in reverence to the victims of the Great Famine of 1845, the newlywed visitors should look across the River Liffey at a new city, Silicon Docks, bustling with energy and vibrant companies. Here, almost all companies born on the internet live, with more to follow thanks to the UK’s fallout from Brexit.
A number of years ago, we were involved with the Royal visit when the Queen and Prince Phillip made that historic step onto Irish soil. The centrepiece was an evening of entertainment commencing with a fashion spectacular, the vision of businessman Harry Crosby, and hosted at the newly opened Convention Centre. Names like Lainey Keogh, Orla Kiely, Louise Kennedy, Helen Steele, John and Simone Rocha have since taken the world by storm when they caught the visitors’ hearts off guard.
We must not forget the Irish arts community, where music and creative writing explode onto paper, canvas and digital devices across the world. Another place the organisers chose was to the 80,000 seater Croke Park stadium. Here, they saw young players from around the country test their skills in Gaelic sports. Quite literally a stone’s throw across the road from the stadium is the breath-taking brainchild of author Roddy Doyle, Fighting Words. Fighting Words is a captivating place where young students visit and learn creative writing.
As the popularity of Irish whiskey and gin explodes around the world, a modern twist on an old tradition would have been for the couple to visit one of the many new gin or whiskey distilleries around the country.
Furthermore, we Irish are not short of ideas in looking for places to visit in Dublin. Renowned businessman Paddy Cosgrave developed the Web Summit, a humble event that became too big for Dublin and now lives very comfortably in Portugal and has become the toast of Europe. From its humble origins, the gathering has become ‘the largest tech conference in the world.’
Nearer the city centre, we have the base of technology company Strype, the fastest growing payments company on the globe. Near Guinness, we have the Digital Hub, a very vibrant gaming centre and an animation hub, where Cathal Gaffney’s Brown Bag Films is based along with other companies in the city such as Pink Kong and Salty Dog Productions. As the newlywed visitors cut a handsome dash across the main square in Trinity, if they had taken a turn ahead of the Book of Kells, they could have entered a centre that is pioneering VR. Here, they could have played in their very own World Cup match while wearing a headset in a busy tech lab and not having to step outdoors.
The visitors are 21st century, newlywed couple who are popular worldwide for being modern and down to earth. The world’s media captured more of the same old grey buildings and scenes akin to postcards from the past.
Planning future visits? A handy guide would even be Lovin Dublin, as it has a compendium of rediscoverable places of interest and appears to be fairly popular with the young folk.
As Beckett would say, I could go on.
As Albert Einstein may have once said, ‘’the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’’