ColumnistsPaddy Murray

Paddy Murray's 100 reasons to love Ireland

Galway, one of 100 reasons why Paddy Murray loves Ireland
Galway, one of 100 reasons why Paddy Murray loves Ireland

Here are 100 reasons I prefer Ireland to anywhere else in the world...

You'd swear Ireland was the dump Eamon Dunphy once said it was. We’re never done complaining.

If it’s not whingeing about paying for water (or anything else for that matter) it’s giving out yards about the FAI or the GAA or the ESB or the Catholic Church or the government or, well, anything at all.

There are 196 countries in the world, well, 209 if you believe FIFA.

Have a look. Can you see one you’d prefer to live in? Not one that you’d like to holiday in, or spend a summer in, or go for a trek in. One you’d actually like to live in forever.

Well, I can’t.

Here are 100 reasons I prefer Ireland to anywhere else in the world...

1. Craic: You can have a bit of fun anywhere. You can only have craic here.
2. Guinness: It’s up there with the telephone and the internal combustion engine when it comes to inventions.
3. Hurling (below): Possibly the best field game in the world.

4. Dingle: You can keep your Taj Mahals and Machu Picchus. Give me Dingle.
5. Free Speech: Sometimes we might wish we didn’t, but we do.
6. TDs: Nothing like them anywhere else in the world. Thank God.
7. RTE: Ah, come on. Everybody watches something on it.
8. Gay Byrne (below): National treasure.

9. Bono: International treasure.
10. Begrudgery: If it was in the Olympics, we’d win gold every time.
11. James Joyce: Brilliant writer, or so we’re told.
12. Daniel O’Donnell: Och, sure, get away with you.
13. The Weather: Stop complaining. We don’t get hurricanes, typhoons, monsoons or droughts.
14. Brittas Bay: Still great. I wonder if Susie is still waiting for me?
15. Lyric FM: Peace at last.
16. Rugby: Possibly the best field game in the world, at least, it’s the best I ever played.

17. Jack Charlton: They stole our crown jewels, we stole theirs.
18. Back roads: Especially the ones with grass growing up the middle.
19. Grafton Street: A wonderland, especially on Christmas Eve.
20. Protests: We do an awful lot of them about an awful lot of things.
21. Pubs: Best in the world − 
Toners, Galloping Green, Brady’s Terenure, Dick Mack’s Dingle: Best in Ireland.
22. Cricket: On a sunny afternoon and, what’s more, we’re getting to be very good at it.
23. The gardai: Way ahead of the bobbies the English love so much and much friendlier than any of their European or American counterparts, as long as you obey the law, that is.
24. Public inquiries: We love them and hang the cost.
25. Mass: For those who still go, still important.
26. Artists: From Jack B Yeats to Louis le Brocquy and all in between, before and after.
27. Movie stars: Generations of them. Barry Fitzgerald, Maureen O’Hara, Cyril Cusack, Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan and so on.

28. Fair City: Don’t deny it. You’ve watched.
29. Evelyn Cusack: And all the forecasters. National treasures one and all.
30. Grass: It’s green. Look elsewhere −it’s not.
31. Country smells: Remind you of where you are.
32. People waving to you: As you drive down country roads.
33. Dublin Airport: You’re home at last.
34. Dun Laoghaire Pier: Millions walk it.
35. Tea: Let’s have a cup and talk about it.

36. Conversation: At length about absolutely nothing.
37. The League of Ireland: It battles on and defies the odds.
38. Croke Park: Third biggest stadium in Europe.
39. Lansdowne Road: Or the… what’s this it’s called again?
40. Thomond Park: Fortress.
41. Wexford: All of it.
42. Ardmore: And a glass of wine in Brigid Shelly’s gallery.
43. The Natonal Stud: Great day out.
44. Tayto Park:  But not the roller coaster for me.
45. West Cork: It’s like the United Nations there are so many nationalities living there.
46. Croagh Patrick: Great view from the top. Really. I know because I climbed it.
47. Donegal: And it would be an even better place for a holiday if it didn’t have all those holidaymakers.
48. Castle Leslie: Extraordinary spot and great value.
49. Paul McGrath (below): National treasure.

50. Tara: But a pity we bulldozed the Gabhra Valley.
51. Graham Norton: They think he’s their national treasure, but he’s ours.
52. Newgrange: Beats the pyramids hands down.
53. Glendalough: Where there lived an oul saint.
54. Kerry: All of it.
55. Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh:  National treasure.
56. Comedians: From Dylan Moran to Dara ó Briain and from Tommy Tiernan to Ardal O’Hanlon and all of them in between.
57. Irish Spring Lamb: Delicious.
58. Fishing: Or so I’m told.
59. Charity: We’re the best at it in the whole world.
60. Oysters:  And a drop of Tabasco (a sauce invented by a kind of Irishman Edmund McIlhenny).
61. Hang sangs: Can’t get them anywhere else.
62. Wicklow: Especially the hills and mountains.

63. The Shannon (above): It’s everything, busy river, source of power, leisure facility…
64. Satire: Oliver Callan, David McSavage, Irish Pictorial Weekly, Mario Rosenstock… we’re good at it.
65. Newsreaders: National treasures.
66. TV3:  Sure, where would you get it?
67. Music: Where to start? From traditional through country, classical and jazz all the way to rock and pop.
68. Newspapers: We still love them – this one in particular.

69. Funerals: We do them very well, especially wakes.
70. Dublin Coddle: My mother made it. And I still love it.
71. Hospital Trolleys: Been there – they’re not so bad, not third world and at least you’re in good hands.
72. The Luas: A miracle.
73. Mayo: All of it.
74. The Burren: Stunning.

75. Clonmacnoise: Tranquility itself.

76. O’Connell Street: Well, it’s there isn’t it?

77. Terry Wogan: Another one they stole.
78. Ads: We make some very good ones.
79. Elections: Can’t wait for certain people to call to the door.
80. Our Michelin restaurants:  I’ve tried a few, Guilbaud’s (I wasn’t paying) Chapter One (I wasn’t paying) L’Ecrivan and Cliff House (I was paying and it was worth it), 
81. Brown bread: Lovely and good for you.
82. Wexford Strawberries: As above.

83. Porridge: As above.
84. Bookshops: Aladdin’s caves.
85. Dundrum Town Centre: Even if you’re not buying anything.
86. Athlone: Underrated.
87. Galway: Great town.
88. Neighbours: We still have them even if they’re not as friendly as they were and they don’t lend sugar.
89. Chat shows:  We love them, we hate them, and we can the really good ones like Brendan O’Connor. 
90. Kilmainham Jail: Emotional.
91. The Blasket Islands: Fascinating, moving, beautiful.
92. Christmas:  Best time of year because it starts in August.
93. Nurses: Saints, every one, something they know all over the world unfortunately .
94. Horses: Showjumping, steeplchasing, national hunt, on the flat... we do them well.

95. Halloween: 89 knocks on our door last year.
96. St Patrick’s Day: And don’t mind the people from Number 10 (above). 
97. Kilkenny Castle: Another gem.
98. Mammies and Daddies: Which are infinitely preferable to moms and dads.
99. Ronan Collins and John Creedon: Should be knighted for services to Irish music and tranquility at lunchime and in the evening.
100. Glasnevin Cemetery: The final place… on our list.