If you don't go to Ireland but read the papers and listen to the news about how the country is in such financial strife (and how many countries aren't?), you might be forgiven for then thinking that with all those troubles, the country is beset with negativity and a general down in the dumps feeling because times have and been and continue to be very tough for a lot of people - but you couldn't be further from the truth, and over the years I have come to so admire the Irish spirit if you like, and the almost relentless good nature and happy go lucky attitude.
Take a a weekend like I have just had at the fishing show - you can't help but spend the entire time all buzzed up and excited. It was just the most fantastic show, and I just absolutely love getting the chance to spend time talking with Irish anglers about the fishing in their country. There is so much I want to do over there, so many places I want to see, so many coastlines I want to wander, and so many remote islands I want to visit. Nowhere is perfect of course, but why oh why haven't we got a fishing show like that here in the UK?
Sure, I go to Ireland because of the fishing, but my love for the country runs far deeper than merely chucking a bunch of lures around. Nope, to me that relentless positivity just gets me every time I go over, and I so admire it. I love the fact that the Irish could perhaps be within their rights to spend the entire time moaning and complaining, but go and spend some time over there and I bet you hear almost nothing about how the country is in such financial strife. I don't believe it's to do with burying heads in the sand and hoping that the bad stuff goes away, rather I think it's the way the Irish people are made - I call it the "f$%k it attitude". Sure, thing's ain't easy, but f$%k it, let's get on with living and enjoying life. Why spend your life moaning? Their attitude is infectious.
I understood from the early days of working in fishing that if you stick your head above the parapet, a small percentage of anglers are not going to like it. You grow a thick skin pretty damn fast, put it that way!! I accept that my guiding work with John Quinlan down in Kerry is going to raise a few hackles, and I accept that some local anglers don't want to see any other anglers on "their marks" (whatever that actually means). And as for somebody in Wexford blaming me for the apparent decline in their bass fishing? It still makes me laugh whenever I think about that particular angle of attack!! I can't to anything about this though, because the Irish are mostly such a welcoming and friendly bunch of people. I love fishing over there and I love fishing and spending time with Irish people. I am extremely lucky to count a number of Irish people as my friends, and spending time in Ireland to me is just an absolute joy - and I have really come to admire their attitude to life.
But as much as I have come to love spending time over there, don't for one second make the mistake of thinking that I wish the Irish any goodwill for next Sunday when we play them in the Six Nations - no bloody way!! Nope, I am English to the core and I want the England rugby team to head to Dublin and snatch the rug of confidence from underneath their feet and come away from that magnificent country with a great big win!! And how about the cricket? I can't believe that I am celebrating a win over Scotland!!!
And a big thanks to the Southside Angling people who were at the Dublin show - they have very kindly given me some of this brand new Gliss line to try out (search Gliss fishing line online). Give me a bit of time and I will get out and give it a go, but initial impressions are that it feels very interesting, it's very thin, and I can't help but love the fact that a 150m spool was just under 20 Euros at the show (about £15). The Southside Angling lot said that Gliss was flying off the shelves all weekend. My profound thanks for being so kind, but again, it changes nothing about the rugby on Sunday..........