Ask A Broadsheet Reader


St Valentine at Whitefriars Street Carmelite Church, Aungier Street, Dublin 2

Niall N writes:

Do you not think it’s kind of ridiculous given that the relics of St Valentine are in Whitefriars on Aungier Street, the city doesn’t make a bigger deal of it internationally?

It’s a seriously good marketing opportunity which is being ignored. I couldn’t imagine the French, the Italians or the Americans letting that one go.

If it was down to me, I’d have flowers on every lamp post, and in every shop window from Aungier Street down to the bottom of George’s Street.

Sometimes I wonder is there any imagination(sophistication) in Ireland anymore?

I won’t start on the absence of a statue of Gulliver…


59 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. Samet.

    The relics aren’t those of Valentine. They’re just a load of random bones giving to Ireland by Pope Gregory. Nobody serious accepts they’re the real deal.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      get the pope to upgrade it on his visit
      probably only have to lob another million at him
      money week spent

  2. Digs

    Interesting that the author used the term “sophistication” to describe his frustration at the lack of a tawdry, tacky and cynical view of a hallmark day….

    Perhaps we should celebrate St. Irony instead.


  3. Nilbert

    Hear hear!

    What’s is wrong with us as a nation that we cannot turn this into another garish marketing opportunity? Perhaps O’Carroll’s could get involved with enormous leprechaun hats and heart shaped fascinators. Maybe that fella off the telly could do blind date…what’s his name? Gerry Ryan?

  4. qwerty123

    “Sometimes I wonder is there any imagination(sophistication) in Ireland anymore?” – By not celebrating this tack fest you describe above, means we are indeed quite sophisticated, imo.

  5. Yowzah

    if anything we should be celebrating My Bloody Valentine at lest once a year.
    There’s yer sophistimikation…

  6. Gorev Mahagut

    There are relics of St Valentine in Prague, Rome, Madrid, Poland, Lesbos, Savona (in Italy), France, Malta, Glasgow and Birmingham. Hardly a unique selling point.

    The absence of a statue of Gulliver is explained by there not being any tradition of erecting public monuments to fictional characters. The Molly Malone statue is an exception, and owes its existence to a little-known by-law of Dublin City Council which states that no statue of a woman may be erected within the city boundaries unless she be fictional and not an actual person.

      1. Cian

        And are all these illegal:
        Margaret Ball and Francis Taylor on Cathedral Street
        Constance Lloyd, Merrion Square Park
        Constance Markievicz, Townsend Street

        1. Gorev Mahagut

          None of those are inside the medieval boundaries of the city. And Constant Markievicz was a man.

          1. Cian

            LOL I think that little-known[1] by-law of Medieval Dublin City precludes all statues. I can’t think of any statues within that part of the city.

            [1] a.k.a. “made up”

  7. The Ghost of Starina

    On the one hand, garish marketing of a religious icon is tacky. On the other hand, garish marketing of a religious icon would likely have the effect of making Ireland look backwards.

    So, no. We shouldn’t be making a big hoo-ha over the bones. If someone wants to have personal reflection with the relics, so be it, anyone can google their location.

  8. Owen

    Did he actually say “It’s a seriously good marketing opportunity which is being ignored” in relation to Valentines Day?

    No, its a non-event made into an enormous marketing opportunity on a global scale, and I would confidently think France (with the city of love) and America (the marketing capital of the world) gain so much from this non-event that having a few questionable bones in Dublin will not change anything for them, or us. It would only make a local consumer consume marginally more.

    Your imagination can grow your self indulgent sophistication, but your intellect is grossly lacking.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      Glad you had that experience
      I spent my time trying to defend that we are about more than drink and not British to way too many people

  9. Tina Tequila

    no-one is going to make any serious money out of Valentine or Gulliver, hence neither will have any corporate backers nor lobbyists. look at the things that were promoted: Arthur’s Day, The Gathering, Rugby World Cup bid – all of these are investment opportunities
    the government/politicians are also basically cultural vacuums so none of them will propose it either

    for another lesson in this, see what Bram Stoker experts think of the ‘Bram Stoker’ festival

  10. Optimus Grime

    Wait a minute what about St. Patrick’s Day should we not turn that into some garish marketing exer…..oh!

  11. Nigel

    Dublin is full of curiosities and oddites that could be curated to create low-key and tasteful and interesting attractions for visitors – and possibly already are – without creating yet another massive tacky commercialised drinkfest that would utterly annihilate every remaining trace of charm and whimsy in the city.

  12. Louis Lefronde

    Napoleon famously said the British are a nation of shopkeepers, if he were alive today he’d probably say the Irish are a nation of taxi drivers…. bitter, passive / aggressive, joyless and pernicious.

    Ireland strikes me is a strangely janus faced country with an oddly puritanical streak when it comes to celebrating its cultural achievements in public art and celebration. St Patrick’s day seems to be it (and its fairly poor to be honest, it’s hardly Las Falles in Valencia.

    The poster has a point. You should be marketing your heritage much better. The average foreigner (myself included) grew up with a very narrow understanding of Ireland and I think that stems from the way you promote yourself…namely the Irish drink…and that’s it.. which of course is not entirely true – but you can hardly blame the ordinary foreigner if that’s the image you give off.

    Now having spent a lot of time in Ireland over the last decade, I know now there is more to the place, especially Dublin. However the poster is right, you do not market or exploit the things which you gave to the world. Let’s look at a few examples: Halloween (we didn’t have it in France when I was a child) it comes from Ireland, its massive in America and now its growing all over the world (China, Germany, France etc) but ask almost anyone abroad where Halloween comes from, they’ll tell you…America. Now that’s a massive failure in marketing. If you got your act together, it could be so much better than it is, it could be like Las Falles which is excellent.

    So Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. Again most people abroad associate it with Romania, and yes go to Romania at (you guessed it) Halloween and the locals are making a fortune out of it. But the Irish, what are they doing to reclaim what is part of their cultural heritage. Not very much. The Bram Stoker festival is dull.

    Gulliver. He’s known all over the world, but how many people know he was the creation of an Irishman and a Dubliner in particular.? Not many. To me that’s an epic fail, the absence of a giant statue of Gulliver in Dublin raised questions, given that there are statues of Gulliver all over the world, but not in the city he was created.

    Interestingly, the Chinese erected a huge statue of Bruce Lee in Guangzhou five years ago. It’s 20m tall, took two years to create by two artists, it’s bronze cast and cost just….€250,000. Check out the link

    While it’s true Bruce Lee only had a tenuous link to Guagzhou, it didn’t stop the city of Foshan making the most of it. So irrespective of whether there are other relics of St Valentine in other cities, that doesn’t mean that Dubliners should make something out of it. You should, and why not if it adds a bit of colour and occasion to dreary Dublin in mid February.

    So I would have to conclude, there is an absence of sophistication in Ireland (not everyone) but it seems to hold you back. It’s easier not to do things and to bitch and moan when positive suggestions are made, suggestions which have civic value. Perhaps, Ireland is still a developing country still……

    cue …much bitching and aggressive comments from the usual suspects…

    1. Cian

      @Louis Lefronde: you’re right.

      Perhaps we should petition the government for a new Irish Bank Holiday – And call it Begrudger’s Day.

        1. Cian

          We can call it Saint Finuala’s day if you want – the patron saint of begrudgery!
          But I suspect other people may have a bigger issue with that.

    2. Owen

      I am Irish. I am an expat. I have been an expat for 11 year, throughout Africa, the US, South America and the Middle East. We are known for drink. But we are known in equal amount for our culture, our music, our scenery, our tourism, the west, our food, our poetry, our sports, our histroy etc etc. And don’t get me started on how the Irish Diaspora support all of these hugely.

      To state, on the back of this post, that there is a lack of Sophistication in Ireland only gives insight into your lack of education of Irish culture. Equally, Halloween, Stoker and Gulliver are known as Irish to those Sophisticated enough to bother looking at visiting Ireland for that basis alone. Bloomer come for Blooms day.

      Go to EPIC. If its not too beneath you.

    3. digs

      Louis you too have difficulty with the term sophistication. You come across as a bit of a sophist actually…

    4. rotide

      You just know Louis has uttered the phrase ‘When one is tired of Paris, one is tired of life’ repeatadly and very recently

  13. nellyb

    Gulliver statue is not a bad idea, somewhere in Dublin parks easily accessible to tourists. A lot of the book could be weaved into it, make it fun, with clever inscriptions from the book… I’d definitely bring my guests to see if there was one.
    Nice one, Niall

  14. nellyb

    On the culture topic – does anyone find it bizarre that two cultural and sports landmarks, which will live for generations are bearing names of businesses? Aviva stadium, Bord Gais Energy theatre I mean. This never ending emphasis on money, money, money… Crass. This is while the country has been and still is full of world class artistic talent, who deserve national recognition. Architecture is history, what are we saying about ours this way?

      1. nellyb

        that’s a concern, you right, but these two already there, in existence, the least we could do is to bring emphases to what’s happening in the venues, rather how it was funded and how mediocre it looks. damage control if you like. it’s like people resigned to the thought that children and grandchildren are going to leave, what’s the point of building for the future. shorttermism is very pervasive.

    1. Cian

      Wait a minute. There is some fine modern architecture in Ireland.
      We aren’t some Communist Era iron country.

      Terminal 2 in Dublin airport? O’Leary wanted it cheap: a concrete portacabin; instead we now have an amazing-looking building.
      Dun Laoghaire Lexicon library.
      The Conference Centre & new Central Bank on the quays.

  15. Emily

    I have been saying this exact thing for years now to anyone who would listen, family, friends, randomers. Same basic reaction from everyone. I knew it would spring up though somewhere from someone else!

  16. Pat Harding

    I think the original post raises a fair point. Why not maximise the presence of St Valentine’s relics in Whitefriars for tourism and make a bit of a splash every year with a bit of a carnival. If it creates a bit of buzz and makes people happy, why not? What’s more, with a little bit of imagination and colour, it could be done really well.

    I grew up in James Street and as a native Dubliner, I love a little bit of flash (as most native Dubliners do…never met a culchie with style) We’re proud of our city, but we know it could be better and we want it to be. The statue of Gulliver is a no-brainer, it’s a great idea, long overdue and it should be HUGE.

    Remember, only an ignoramus would commission a small statue of a giant.

    Oh…and put it in St Patrick’s Cathedral Park….. where I can see it from my flat.

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