The Unofficial Hottest Irish & Canadian Exports of 2012

I flitted over a piece recently on the "hottest Canadians" of 2012 (I'm an intellectual me) and it got me thinking about the parallels between great Irish exports and those of my adopted country.

Silver Screen

First up, the girl-next-door, endearingly adorable Rachel McAdams and Saoirse Ronan. Both have really just tipped the iceberg of their golden careers despite their young years -- well, Rachel is thirty-three which is over the hill in Hollywood terms while Saoirse is a tender eighteen  yet seems wise beyond her years -- but both appeal universally, unisexually.

Pretty enough to warrant men's attention and being dragged to the cinema for the latest heartfelt blockbuster, yet not so overtly sexy as a Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie type who only serve to intimidate women to the point that they become a mere subject of speculation over plastic surgery rumours or the butt of our jokes. Poor Brangie and her mad right leg.

Next up, the ubiquitous 'heartthrob' at the top of their game: Ryan Reynolds and Michael Fassbender. Despite only being thirty-five, Ryan's considered something of a rom-com 'veteran' and holds a particularly special place in our hearts as a Vancouverite.
Michael, on the other hand, has suddenly exploded onto the cinematic screen in heavyweight flicks like 2008's Hunger, 2009's Inglourious Basterds, 2011's X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method and Shame, with Prometheus out in June 2012. He's been busy!

Now, you may think 'Fassbender' is not a common Irish name and you'd be right. Mick was actually born in Germany but raised in County Kerry in south-west Ireland which, as anyone with any links to 'my' country will know, is about as Irish as you can get (video evidence below!)

By the way, The Savage Eye is a satirical comedy show on Ireland's national TV station RTE that really hits the mark - check it out online for a no-holds-barred insider take on modern day Ireland.

The big difference between these two hunksof course  is that Ryan's the cleancut kind who dates 'the beautiful people' like ex-wife Scarlett Johansson and flame du jour Blake Lively (spotted here recently in our very own beautiful BC), whereas Michael is a bit edgier which tends to be the trend for Irish actors if you look at the likes of Colin Farrell (newly reformed and "Hollywoodified" now, don't you know), Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, etc. Actually, considering we're only a tiny blip on the map we're killing it per square capita on the respectable actor front!


Since I'm not a theatre connoisseuse nor do I pretend to be (the lady definitely doth not protest too much), I'll focus on what I know about the stage and that's stand-up. Seth Rogen and Tommy Tiernan have to be our greatest comedic exports of the day. Although admittedly Seth, another Vancouverite -- represent! -- is more widely known on an international stage than trickster Tommy, both have had quite similar beginnings and both are such natural raconteurs that you want to laugh along with them, not at them. 

Like many comedians, they wet their whistles at local comedy clubs Yuk Yuks in Vancouver and Vicar Street in Dublin, both of which make for a very good night out indeed if you're in either city.

And although he's played a stoner in quite a few films - Knocked Up, Pineapple Express - so we presume he's a bit like that in real life, especially being from BC bud!, between the two Seth is actually more 'mainstream' than Tommy boy, who gets himself into quite a bit of trouble at home. As one can imagine, his raw and uncensored views on Irish culture, politics, religion and spirituality can be problematic in a "post-apoCatholic" Ireland.

I made that word up myself and I think it describes our situation pretty accurately, if I do say so myself!

But by God (can I use that phrase after "post-apoCatholic"?), this chap will have you in stitches before you know it, so please look him up if you haven't already.

As an aside, I wasn't sure if Canadian readers would know the phrase 'in stitches' which I assumed had Gaelic origins as most of our sayings have some sort of anatomical reference (i.e. 'laughing your head off' or 'bawling your eyes out') but, upon further digging, I discovered that 'in stitches' was actually used by Mr. Shakespeare himself in Twelfth Night - (Maria): "If you desire the spleen, and will laugh yourselves into stitches, follow me." - and was quite prolific at the time.

Interestingly, or not so interestingly depending on your preference for linguistics, 'bawling' is the noise cows make when they are in distress. Don't say I don't teach you anything!


Finally, it has to be said that Canada has undoubtedly bred the cream of the crooning crop who've made it on the worldwide stage with the likes of Michael Bubl√©, Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Sarah McLachlan and of course the one and only Justin "fever" Bieber. But I'm sorry to say folks there really is no competition against the world's biggest band, U2, and particularly as Bono was recently named the richest musician in history thanks in no small part to his small 2.3% Facebook share. Although I reckon give JB another five years and he'll undoubtedly catch up on his path to total pop world domination.

However, the biggest difference between 'us' and 'you' in this regard has to be your unflinching sense of national pride in your musical exports, whereas we couldn't be more embarrassed of poor Bono! This is through no fault of his own of course, it's just that as a nation we inherently hate anyone who's that loaded while the rest of us wallow in recession depression. Giz' a handout will ya Bono mate, your piggy bank could buy out all of our banks put together!!

It's a running joke at home that Bono is followed, idolized and even stalked literally the world over, while his home country is the one place on the planet where he can enjoy a pint in peace as no-one will lower themselves to ask for an autograph or even a pic with the well-intentioned, tinted glasses-wearing singing activist. Which, ironically, would make a great story on Facebook!

'At home in Ireland, there's a habit of avoidance,
an ironical attitude towards the authority figure.'
- Seamus Heaney

Actually, when you clear your head enough to see through the Guinness cloud that our greats love so much and take a discerningly sober look at our musical past and present, you quickly realize that our talent pool is full of proud but cantankerous auld moaners - Sinead O'Connor, Bob Geldof, Shane MacGowan, Van Morrison and, new to the fold, Glen Hansard - which may just define us all as a nation really! I've met most of these 'celebs' and they're great craic (fun in Gaelic, not the other crack!) all the same, which more so defines us as a people I'm sure/hope you'll agree.

In the end, what this vacuous list really brought home to me is that, despite our obvious similarities and glaring differences, we've created a phenomenal amount of talent.

We should be shouting from the rooftops that these two modest countries - who have historically lived in the shadows of our bigger, badder cousins (take that US/UK!) - have produced some of the most successful figures in showbusiness to date. Ever.

Smug, us? Never!


  1. What a great piece - you summed it up nicely... Irish-Canadians are the best of both worlds!!! :)

  2. I love your writing style, its so irreverent but funny! As a Canadian it's good to see someone love our country and I keep up with your blog regularly to laugh along with your observations. Keep them coming!

  3. Thanks, I appreciate the feedback :) However, I've been told I committed the ultimate sin....I left Ontario's Ryan Gosling off that list SHOCK HORROR!! He should be with Rachel McAdams anyway and just live out 'The Notebook' each and every day!!!