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Inside Dublin Opinion

We may not boast the originality of the French crépe or even Scottish haggis, but Irish grub is as good a reason to ditch any notions of emigrating. Jonathan Lucey

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rom the thousands that have jumped ship to Australia or America, the thing they seem to miss the most is the food. Barry’s tea, Denny rashers, Galtee sausages, Clonakilty black pudding, Fig Rolls and Tayto, all staples of the Irish diet. By Christ, the traditional ‘fry’ has been a cornerstone of Irish civilisation since the State’s creation. To wake up late of a Sunday morning and smell the magical scent of rashers wafting up from the kitchen is a golden childhood memory most of us have. The pig is a most multi-functional creature, supplying us all the key ingredients of a fry: sausages, rashers and pudding. A fry can be dinner, breakfast or lunch. No matter when you eat it, it’s always mannishly awesome. A properly executed fry can cure even the ropiest of hangovers; the nutritional goodness and porkly sweetness brings the life back to the body and soaks up the demon drink from your system. A good sturdy fry can save a man, and enable him to tackle a second night’s worth of pints. Barry’s tea is the quintessential tea of Ireland. Its smooth rich flavour defines the cupán té experience. Tea is an integral part of Irish society, we drink it every day, and it’s as much a part of our daily routines as Facebook or breathing. When we have visitors the first thing we do is make them tea. Just before a film is about to start, we make the tea. When we come back from a night on the tear, even through the murky booze induced haze, some primordial instinct for the tea kicks in. Tea obviously has some medicinal value too, for no matter what the shock, be it big or small, tea is the first step we take in the recovery process. For example, (imagine a Dublin accent – two for a fiver style – “Mary, it’s Tommy, he’s fallen off that bloody ladder again and banjaxed the legs off himself. You sit down there, love, and I’ll make the tea,” or “Jimmy... I’ve got something to tell ya Jimmy, I’m

July 2011

preggers again… Jaysus, Jacinta will ya stick on that bleedin’ kettle there before I faint,” and so on. Tea also defines the social hierarchies in student accommodation all over Ireland. The weakest housemates or the ‘Gazelles’, must make the tea for the stronger

appealing at first, but how long before the sweet scent of Tayto lures you back home? Leaving the rumblings of my belly to one side for a minute, the true imperative for staying here is simple — Ireland needs you. It is once again a time for heroes, a time for hard work by muscle and brain alike. A time for the young “A sun-soaked adventure may sound people to grab the reins out appealing at first, but how long of the hands of the generation that led us blindly into before the sweet scent of Tayto lures the furnace and set course you back home?” for prosperous waters. The young people of Ireland are housemates or the ‘Wolves’ in order an invaluable resource; each young to appease their wrath and share their person who emigrates is a blow to the tasty biscuits. Tea is what we watch future of our nation, for they take their our soaps with, what we have the chat vitality, talents and energy to benefit with and is our second favourite social another land. For those who remain lubricant. God bless the tea. the coming years will not be easy, but As you weigh up the idea of a new if our past has taught us anything it is life in a far-flung land, please consider that with hard work and determinathese delectable culinary delights in tion, us Irish can shake the pillars your deliberation. Sure, the whole of the Earth and thwart any obstacle aspect of a sun-soaked adventure and foolish enough to bar our way. Now, actually earning a wage may sound who’s for tea?


Inside Dublin Innovation RIDING THE WAVE OF THE RECESSION Amidst the masses of young people jumping ship, Steve Gillman chats to two young local Dun Laoghaire entrepreneurs who are bucking the trend and making a go of it here. As the country faces the highest levels of emigration since the 80s, it is both an unusual and an inspirational sight to see two young people stick it out to set up a new business. Joshua Cantwell (23) and Jason Orr (25) have been friends for several years and recently launched their own electric bike company called ‘The Green Effect’. Located on Great Strand Street in Dublin’s city centre, The Green Effect has the largest collection of electric bikes in Ireland available to buy and rent. Despite their youthful enthusiasm, Joshua and Jason did not jump straight into setting up their own business without some knowledge of the market and consideration for the recession. “It was going to be tough to set up in this climate,” acknowledges Joshua, “But with research we also found that certain areas were cheaper than others and could be done without sacrificing standards.” When the duo made the decision to set up The Green Effect, a crucial first step was to source a supplier. They searched for a manufacturer that would meet their standard and vision and finally found a match in China. The two packed their bags for their three week trip and bravely went to visit the factory first hand without a word of Mandarin. “When we went to the Guangdong Province it was a bit of a nightmare trying to communicate but at the factory we met this local lad called Samuel. We got him to come everywhere with us as a translator. It’s crucial to have someone like that if you are doing business abroad. We are still in contact with him and he does everything for us in China,” Joshua says. After agreeing a deal with the Chinese manufacturers, the pair set up base in an ideal spot just off Capel Street. Attention then shifted to marketing, where they aimed to think outside the box for ways to establish their business. “We have to figure new ways to be innovative with The Green Effect,” Joshua states. “We offer advertising on our tricycles, we have the Bridge Bar and Restaurant on one tricycle for instance. We also take turns to go out on our tricycle with the Green Effect logos to do some advertising. Every bit helps.” With the duo standing as proof that a new business can work in Ireland they have some advice to aspiring Irish entrepreneurs: “Work hard and keep on trying. Don’t let the negativity surrounding Ireland have an effect on you. Do a lot of market research and make sure you have the right product, and then you have to do a lot of marketing. It can be difficult to market yourself in this country if you are low on money. But you have to use other ways to advertise like Facebook and internet.” Competition is an aspect that any new company has to consider and Joshua was well aware of this. “There are another three companies who are decent competition. We try to be better than them by providing a higher standard of bike that looks good and then provide a better after sales service.” One stand out factor that The Green Effect provides is their specialist bicycle equipment. Perhaps the most eye catching of this equipment is their Danish YAKKAY Helmets; trendy hats that are designed for the more fashion conscious cyclist. Another obvious advantage that helped The Green Effect was that the business was set up between friends. Though Joshua and Jason both had the desire and hunger to succeed, they ultimately brought different aspects to the business – Jason with his Business and Enterprise degree, and Joshua with his work for an electronic supply company. “We were lucky that we both had the same goals. We knew that there would be a market for electric bikes, what with rising petrol prices and new schemes like the ‘Bike to Work’ initiative.” This Government led scheme is aimed at promoting the benefits that cycling can have to both the individual and the environment and can cover bikes and accessories up to €1,000 as long as the bicycle is purchased by an employer. The Green Effect offer workshops and presentations to companies that demonstrate their bicycles and provide encouragement to their workers to live a healthier lifestyle. With Joshua and Jason’s commitment and combined business know-how, The Green Effect will surely become an established Dublin business. The two lads from Dun Laoghaire have shown that there are still opportunities for young people in Ireland to consider before heading abroad.

DUBLINERS EXTEND A CÉAD MÍLE FÁILTE DUBLIN MAY NOT seem the most attractive place to be right now. Over the last few years it seemed that along with the money, we lost some of our charm. Now a new initiative has been launched that builds on our strengths and reminds the world of our greatest natural resource; ourselves. City of a Thousand Welcomes aims to connect Dubliners with first time visitors and simply do what we do best; have a drink, a chat and welcome people to the city. Simple ideas are usually the best, and according to the project’s general manager, Simon O’Connor, this one came to him in a very straightforward way. “The idea came from an instance in a pub when a colleague bought a tourist a pint and welcomed them to the city and chatted for about half an hour. We thought - ‘How do you bottle that? How do you make it a formal system that people can get involved in?’ We all do this from time to time, this just makes it official and pays for the first round.” Irish people have a longstanding reputation as an open, warm and friendly nation. Some stereotypes you can live with and this one places Dublin in a unique position. As Simon says, “Whether we know it or not, we are the country’s main tourist attraction. And here in the capital city we see more of those tourists than anyone else.” Civic duty has been a key factor in the success of the project thus far. Initially seeking one thousand volunteers, they have received over double that amount of applicants already. It seems Dubliners, whose numbers include Bill Cullen and David McWilliams, are enthusiastically

embracing the opportunity to add some shine to the tarnished reputation of their city. “We’ve always described it as a civic pride initiative, and people have responded with the same. It’s very heartening and fundamentally optimistic,” Simon says. The scheme works by tourists booking dates for meeting and submitting a little information about themselves. Ambassadors will then see the meeting time and choose dates that suit them. The whole thing is free and is funded in part by Dublin City Council, Fáilte Ireland and Dublin Regional Authority. The hospitality partners – the Porterhouse Bars, The Merrion Hotel and Bewley’s Café – will provide vouchers for drinks. It is expected that most volunteers will do this only once so volunteers will be sought on an ongoing basis. Right now only Dubliners are getting the chance to represent their city, but in the future it is hoped that the initiative can be brought to the rest of the country also. How far this idea will travel is unknown, but at home it has clearly struck a chord and inspired people to rebuild their city’s beleaguered reputation. Despite everything that has happened, Irish people, it seems, remain among the most welcoming in the world and a huge attraction for tourists. Will this make Dublin a more attractive place to visit? According to Simon the answer is simple. “Dublin becomes the only city in the world where the locals are literally queuing up to buy tourists a drink.”

Seamus O’Connor

July 2011

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