Like many people who work in the tourist industry in Ireland, we here at Murphys Ice Cream, have been fuming for a few days over an article published in the last Sunday Times. For those of you who didn’t read it, it’s called “Bandit Country.”
It’s hard to know where to start on an article with so many flaws, one so poorly researched and seemingly a sensationalist attempt to bring a bit of profile to the author (and that did work – she repeated her nonsense on the radio). For feedback on value in Ireland, she managed to find all of two tourists with whom to talk. In quoting her prices, she clearly did not research (or conveniently ignored) the prices elsewhere, or why would she mock the Dublin Zoo for being expensive, when it is €25 less than the London Zoo for a family of four? How could she mock €27 for a bus tour around the Ring of Kerry, when a comparable bus tour in Cinque Terre in Italy would cost €60? When a jarvey in Killarney, at €35 for an hour in the spectacular Killarney National Park, is half the price of a horse and cart in Central Park? When green fees at a Killarney golf course at €35 are less than half the price of a comparable course in the US or UK? And how could she compare a package holiday to regular hotel rates?
Throwing out prices without context is such nonsense. If I told you I bought a car for €2000, was that expensive? Cheap? It’s impossible to know without knowing more about the car.
The price of ice cream in Dingle came up in the article, but instead of showing some journalistic initiative and investigating herself, she used as her source a letter to the editor of the Irish Times (“Recently I purchased three ice cream cones in Dingle. The cost? €11.40. Is this a record?” the letter asked). The answer is no. There’s more expensive ice cream both at our shop and elsewhere in the world. We’re not even sure the letter was a complaint, since the writer doesn’t mention whether he thought the ice cream was worth the price, which would be the question we would have asked. However, this particular journalist doesn’t seem interested in such questions.
Here’s a letter to the editor that my brother wrote to the Sunday Times in response to the article:
I am writing in about Gabrielle Monaghan’s article “Bandit Country” from July 5, 2009. She uses the following, flawed logic: there are exceptional (and expensive products) in Ireland, therefore we are a race of thieves and you should not vacation here. Has she no pride in what Ireland offers, and will she only be happy when we are a bargain destination with third world wages and cheap products and services?
Mention was made of three ice creams being €11.40 in Dingle. If the author was referring to Murphys Ice Cream, our goal is to make the best ice cream anywhere, not to compete on price. To use us as an example of the cost of ice cream in Ireland is like saying Jimmy Choo is representative of shoe prices in London. Are New Yorkers bandits because New York is home to Tiffany? Are Parisians bandits because Paris, the #1 tourist destination in the world, has Pierre Herme or €2000 hotel rooms? Are the Japanese bandits because in Tokyo you can pay €150 for a single melon (or €7.50 for a scoop of ice cream)? Are golfers ripped off at Hilton Head or St. Andrews, both of which have higher green fees than Killarney?
Shame on the author for believing Irish people do not deserve quality comparable to other countries. Shame on the Sunday Times for calling Irish people bandits and for not believing Ireland can compete with the best in the world.
We have a beautiful country with world-class scenery, products and services. We have hundreds of thousands of Irish people who know this and will enjoy a dream holiday at home this summer. We will be proud to serve them.
Murphys Ice Cream
It’s amazing to me, that with almost half a million Irish people out of work and thousands of tourism jobs at risk, an Irish journalist would tell people to holiday elsewhere and call Irish people bandits. These are Irish people who are trying to offer great products or services to our visitors, to make a living and to provide employment in difficult times. They are not thieves.
I wish there was more pride in what Ireland has to offer and more understanding of how connected we are in this small economy. We can survive this downturn, but we are going to need a lot more positive thinking and a lot less of this kind of destructive vituperation.
Ireland is still a great place to holiday. Although it’s expensive, there are world class attractions. There are also bargains to be had at the moment. We invite anyone who can to come and see for themselves and to enjoy a wide range of offerings amidst spectacular landscapes.
Meanwhile, we hope that Ms. Monaghan takes her own advice and heads away to Crete. Permanently.