Sunday, January 8, 2012

Viva La France

Maybe it's too easy to lump the Irish in with our English neighbours - we share many traits after all. Nevertheless, I was non-plussed by the news that France's top-selling travel guide (Le Guide du Routard) is suggesting Ireland is once again a safe destination to visit.

I wasn't aware that our island was regarded as an unsafe destination in the first place.

What, exactly, made it unsafe? Thierry Henry, apparently. His famous handball incident in the World Cup 2010 qualifying match (played n 2009)... which may or may not have robbed Ireland of a place in the finals... caused concern among the French tourism psyche.

French travellers thought they might receive abuse on the back of Henry's actions... the French editor even went as far as suggesting that the French would not have been very welcoming of Irish tourists had the positions been reversed.

Message to our lovely friends in France... we are not England, where football is treated as a religion and fans from opposing teams are often deemed enemies and therefore fair game if spotted wearing the wrong colour shirt. That doesn't happen here. And please remember that you and England have history: you two were going at it hammer and tongs for a few centuries, although you made up during two world wars. No, over here we like your flair, your non-chalance, your wine, your language, that Gallic shrug and even your rugby when you release that flair (I was rooting for you in the World Cup ruby final).

Oh sure, we might have a word in your ear about Henry's handling of the situation, but only over a shared pint and a laugh. After all, as any Irish football fan would be quick to point out, you got your come-uppance by putting on such a dismal performance in the pool games.

Over 4,000 French golfers visit Ireland every year, so we would more than welcome you back onto our fairways, no matter what the guide book says.

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