Rarely, if ever, in any other country is there a particular period set aside annually for a specific national purpose apart from national festivals, but they are part and parcel of the general set-up culturally.
Where we differ though, is that we have a ‘Buy Irish’ week. What is the reason, one is prompted to ask, for having one ‘Buy Irish’ week only? Can we not purchase home-manufactured goods all the year round?
Slowly, and not too surely, we are progressing. Still, we are prone to stick to ideas which no longer hold water. Too many of us prefer to ask for the foreign-made articles in shops when similar items made at home are readily available. Every foreign item we purchase is money sent abroad, adding to our balance of payments debt. The amount of goods which we import is altogether out of line with the comparatively small exports, especially to certain countries.
There is hardly any other country in the world where one will find the native giving preference to a foreign article. We have ample evidence of that in Ireland today. Take the man who favours Scotch instead of the home brew. Take the very many who ask for English made goods, never heeding the fact that similar Irish articles are made of just as high a quality. There are also many traders who keep the homemade articles at the back of the shop, displaying to the full the imported matter. Those who subscribe to such ideas are Irish in name only, it is actually hyprocrisy of the highest sort. In recent years the Bureau of Standards has insisted on top class quality from home manufacturers, and they are proving most successful.
We have only too many examples of inconsistency in many fields. Take for example tourism: every other week we are being exhorted to see this beautiful country or that, and on the other hand we are forming tourist associations to attract the stranger.
It’s truly amazing how many tens of thousands of St Patrick’s Day cards are imported. The printing industry in this country is one of the biggest employing groups, and yet still we have to purchase a greeting card which in all probability is marked ‘made in England’.
An American lady visited the Irish Midlands two years ago and in search of souvenirs sought high and low for a statue of St Patrick. The lady got one such statue, but when she looked at the maker’s trademark to her utter astonishment she found that it was ‘made in Czechoslovakia’. She threw it back at the trader and asked for an Irish sample. Did she find an Irish one? Not at all.
If we are to be true to ourselves we must make every week an Irish Week and make every purchase an Irish buy.