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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 24 February, 2019

'We're a resilient nation': What makes you proud to be Irish?

We asked three people who have represented Ireland on the international stage

Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland - Landscape photography Source: Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com) via Flickr/CC

FOR A LITTLE nation, we certainly have performed well on the world stage.

From recent successes in the Olympics to our long literary history, world-famous bands, Oscar-winning actors, stunning scenery and just general soundness, we have a few reasons to be proud of ourselves – not that we’d ever boast about ourselves or anything.

We’re far too cool for that.

We spoke to three people who have represented Ireland on the international stage about what makes them proud to be Irish and how we’re perceived abroad – spoiler, it’s pretty good.

Enda McNulty

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Enda McNulty is an All-Ireland-winning GAA football player and All Star who has since made the move into sports psychology. He has his own high performance coaching company and is a performance coach to the Leinster rugby team, amongst others.

McNulty travels the world with his team delivering courses about performance excellence to people in all sorts of fields – from sports to art, education and corporate.

McNulty is very proud to be Irish:

I’m proud to be Irish because I was brought up with GAA in my veins, I’m really proud of the GAA and what we’re achieving, not just in Ireland but the recognition they now get around the world.

And when it comes to Irish people as a whole, he’s pretty happy with us:

What does it mean to be Irish? It means more than anything that we’re a resilient nation. We’re incredibly social, we’re at our best when we’re outside Ireland. We’re amongst the most entrepreneurial people in the world. We’re brave, we’re bold, we’re nimble, we’re agile.

McNulty says that in his travels across the world, there’s always a great reception when people find out he’s Irish:

We find people are incredibly fond of the Irish… When they hear you’re Irish, their eyes light up. They’ve a big beaming smile. They’re incredibly fond of the Irish.

He continues, “I’m very proud to be Irish because of our potential as a nation, our potential as a people, and the impact we have on the world.”

Catherina McKiernan

Source: Patrick Bolger/INPHO

Catherina McKiernan is a two-time Irish Olympian and long-distance runner and has won three big city marathons – London, Berlin and Amsterdam.

Since retiring from competing in 2004 McKiernan has written her autobiography and become a ChiRunning instructor, teaching people how to run better and reduce injury.

What makes McKiernan proud to be Irish is:

We’re a small country, and I think our reputation abroad is very good. We showed that during the Euros this summer, we got a great reception everywhere we went. It was lovely to see the reception and the kindness of the fans and the behaviour of them. They did us justice, they did us well as fans.

McKiernan says that when she was competing abroad, she was always supported by people at home, which spurred her on to achieve more:

When I was competing, I knew all the supporters at home wanted me to do well so that was a big driving force for me. Because I knew that I lifted the hearts of many people and they would enjoy my success… I wanted to do my country proud.

Alison Spittle

Alison Spittle is a stand-up comedian who has performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Dublin Fringe, and her show Alison Spittle discovers Hawaii was nominated for two awards.

Spittle says that the sheer size of the country and what we have achieved internationally, is something to be proud of:

Thinking of the population of the country and how big an impact it has. No other country has cities in America or Australia or France dyeing their rivers green, or any other colour to be honest.

I sense something spooky.

A post shared by Alison Spittle (@alisonspittle) on

Spittle is half-Irish, half-English and says growing up she never felt Irish enough. She says she used to think “being Irish was following GAA and quoting Father Ted”.

Now she says:

I realised being Irish is not trying so hard. It’s like being cool, if you try too hard to be cool, you’re not cool.

So what makes you proud to be Irish? Let us know in the comments below.

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