Irish Week: At Least The Irish Government Recognises The Cultural Value of Animation

It’s that time of the year again, when everyone pretends to be Irish and the real Irish milk it from the American tourists for all it’s worth. St. Patrick’s Day is on Thursday so until then, this post is part of a series on Ireland and Irish-related animation. You can browse the full series here.

Via: Brown Blog Films

What you see above is the real deal, sent to both Tomm Moore (Cartoon Saloon, The Secret of Kells) and Nicky Phelan (Brown Bag Films, Granny O’Grim). By the sounds of the respective blog posts, it was nothing short of a complete shock for both invitees.

Now St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal for the Irish government because unlike any other country, March 17th is for the Irish and the Irish alone (everyone’s Irish for a day, etc, etc). As a result, the government and the country have long realised that they have been given this extraordinary opportunity: a whole day to market Ireland to the entire world without interference from other (non-catastrophic) events. In fact, the combination of St Patrick’s Day and the opening of NCAA March Madness is seen by some (including my boss) as a perfect storm of events.

You’d think that for the Irish Government and the embassies and so forth that this would be a great day of relaxation and celebration. Not so, I was talking to a guy from the Irish Embassy in Washington DC last year and he told me in no uncertain terms that St. Patrick’s Day is by far the busiest day of the year, when everyone is frantically organising things, meeting people doing interviews, etc. So it would seem that the only civil servants getting a rest are the ones at home!

In line with the various ‘promoting’ activities that the Irish government does is the now-traditional White House meeting, where the President of the United States (POTUS) presents the Taoiseach (prime minister) with a bowl of shamrocks (interesting note: it was George W. Bush who began this custom, before, it was just a plain ol’ handshake).

Afterwards there is the reception and dinner for the festivities where I’m sure there are many fine congressmen and senators who attend to whoop up their Irish heritage. Sadly many Irish-Americans are ignorant to the simple fact that corned beef and cabbage just isn’t an Irish dish. For some, their entire world falls apart when I inform them of this.

As the entire day is one to promote Ireland and Irish culture, it is delightful to see that two animators are included. The government could easily have chosen a few poets, singers, artists and so forth to attend (and probably have in the past) but they didn’t. Surely both invitations are a sign that the Irish government has recognised the ability of animation to transcend borders and cultures and to promote Ireland in a positive light to the world. Both animator’s Academy Award nominations last year have no doubt helped lead to tomorrows event.

Hopefully this is not the last time we see Irish animators being invited to the White House although I think we’re off to a great start.