98% of Irish celebrities still look like someone you could imagine working in a cash and carry

  • 3 min read
  • Aug 05, 2022

98% of Irish celebrities still look like someone you could imagine working in a cash and carry

His name is Paddy McFlaherty and he likes drinking, fighting and potatoes. We can tell because he’s holding a pint of Guinness in his right hand, while his left is angrily clenched into a bloody bandaged fist.

The “lovely potatoes” part of his whole deal can be subtly inferred from the t-shirt wearing the deepest emerald green. But this Punch cartoon is not from the 1870s. Here’s an ad from 2022 that aims to debunk myths about the Irish by creating a uniquely Celtic stereotype that we can relate to. Commissioned by the Irish Immigration Museum, Paddy McFlaherty is an attempt to challenge the notion that we like to fight, drink potatoes, and hold grudges. It has spread far and wide. And so, two weeks ago, when he was unveiled as part of the “This Is Not Us” campaign, he went viral.

It’s fair to say the campaign clearly worked. In the two weeks since its release, many found the ad clever and others a little silly, but everyone was talking about it. The result is that tens of thousands of people are introduced to the Irish Immigration Museum in what, by most accounts, looks like a great day out.

Since this ad has been so successful, I feel comfortable saying that I also enjoyed it, but not for any of the reasons listed above. First, whatever the point, I find it inherently funny that a graphic designer was tasked with inventing the most racist anti-Irish cartoon ever.

There’s something very satisfying about knowing that someone, somewhere, must be agonizing over exactly how hideous, hideous, and quintessentially Irish this loathsome monstrosity can be made in the present tense. I love picturing the tense zoom sessions where they finally decide to make his hand bigger and add blood-stained bandages adorning his spade-like fists.

In quieter moments, while my shame is asleep, I go a step further and imagine that the lead designer is a quiet, unassuming Londoner named Keith, who happens to be the only English person in the office of a Dublin advertising agency. I see the sweat running down his face as he spins the mouse wheel to increase the darkening of Paddy’s cheeks, widening the slits of his lips, not sure if the next click will be the one that causes an eerie silence among his colleagues. to be “Whoa…okay” they say worriedly as he frantically puts his changes back on, “take it easy man”.

In Paddy’s case, however, most commentators seem to have a different take on the “This Is Not Us” campaign. I tweeted and discovered thousands of people who agreed. Mark Tighe said, “I saw this man yesterday at Harold’s Cross.” Commander In Keef wrote, “I haven’t left my house once without seeing at least 30 of these people every day.” Chris O’Dowd, who rightfully has a photo of our youngest wearing the shirt, replied: “We literally have a photo of our youngest under my adorable baby photo, in a desperate plea for the one-on-one that we really need to be. Shame on you.” .

As hundreds and then thousands of Irish people said the same thing—and watched intently to make sure the English and Americans weren’t too happy to say the same thing—I felt that the Museum of Irish Immigration was probably looking for It increases national pride. Because we are not, to put it mildly, engaged in any national myth about our beauty.

Look, do Irish people make fun of our looks because we have a whole, confident self-image that doesn’t need to pretend to conventional beauty standards? Yeah. But does this mean that Irish people are somehow less attractive than people of other nations? Well, also yes – but who cares? In the words of Dylan Moran, “we’re a rough bunch – even Irish babies look like they’ve had a good shot at an international rugby career”.

And it goes all the way up. Sure, we export our Pierce Brosnans, Andrea Corrs and Colin Farrells, but 98% of Irish celebrities still basically look like someone you can imagine working and carrying cash.

As for the rest of us, every Irishman has spotted a fellow countryman from afar on holiday, either in their insipid form or in the fabled, anatomical wonder that is the ‘Big Irish Head’.

While our friends on the other side of the Atlantic and our neighbors over the Irish Sea fuss and rant and rave about their national sentiments – ridiculous culture wars around every bedtime story. Their former greatness makes them more perfect and pristine – I don’t think we know. How rare and beautiful is the clarity of our self-image and how much we must protect it.

It’s fine, and it’s punishingly rare to have ambitious, kind, confident, self-aware people who mock our ruddy cheeks and giant heads.

Knowing yourself, and loving what’s out there, is something we should really be proud of. If there’s one culture or innovation we can do with far-reaching expansion, this might be it.

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