One For The Irish

Last week was certainly one for the Irish. Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day, an event celebrated worldwide – but either side of the Irish national holiday were a string of very exciting wins at the Cheltenham Festival and a remarkable win in the 6 Nations Rugby. 

Cheltenham is renowned for its Irish participation – both on the racecourse and in the stalls. Talking to The Independent’s ‘i’ on St. Patrick’s Day, Irish entrepreneur Michael O’Leary attempted to explain its importance in the Irish calendar,  “It’s a religion where I’m from… A true Irishman will grow up to follow Cheltenham first and the Catholic Church second”. The Festival proved to be an eventful one, with Ruby Walsh resonating on all news channels

Cheltenham was not the only accompaniment to St. Patrick’s Day. Ireland ended England’s hopes of a grand slam in the Six Nations tournament. The final score was 24-8 to Ireland, and although England ultimately won the tournament, its Ireland’s final victory that will be remembered. 

Ireland made quite an impact on the tournament, with Brian O’Driscoll’s performance being respectfully recognised as one of the highlights of the Six Nations. 

Everyone is A Little Bit Irish

Wild Geese celebrated St. Patrick’s Day throughout the world yesterday. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade saw 2 million people flock to Fifth Avenue to watch 200,000 marchers. The parade included marching bands and bagpipers, exemplifying the influence that Irish migration has had and celebrating Irish culture and heritage. Michelle Kelly, who was visiting New York from Dublin commented, “It’s brilliant… I’ve never seen anything like this, not even in Dublin. There are so many different cultures together here – just for the Irish“.

This was not an Irish-only event. People of all nationalities came together to enjoy a day of celebration. One British visiter explained, The parade is truly an international celebration. It is so amazing to see that here in New York City everyone is a little bit Irish today”

The celebrations are sure to continue into the weekend, and although the Irish flags will come down on Monday morning, the lasting influence of Irish culture can be seen everyday throughout the world. 

St. Patrick's Day at Cheltenham

The luck of the Irish has shone through on day three of the Cheltenham Festival. A. P. McCoy has won the Ryanair Chase on Albertas Run and Ruby Walsh remained in the spotlight, winning World Hurdle with Big Buck’s. 

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year rode Albertas Run to victory, despite a course invader running onto the track. Albertas Run’s trainer Jonjo O’Neill spoke to BBC Radio 5 straight after the race, expressing “We work all year for cheltenham, it’s a magical week. Everyone’s having a great time and it’s great to be part of it”

This was only the beginning. The main event of the day – The World Hurdle was won by Ruby Walsh, who certainly hasn’t been keeping quiet during the festival. On “Ruby Tuesday” he won a hat-trick of races, but Walsh was extremely complimentary of his steed. “He’s an aeroplane, you can’t fault him. I knew it would be tactical but this horse no longer needs to be kept behind, he can stretch in front“.

 There was a tense moment between Big Buck’s and challenger Grands Crus, ridden by Tom Scudamore, but Walsh ultimately was the first past the post. 

Cheltenham has provided a very memorable St. Patrick’s Day, but theres still plenty more to come on its final day. A. P. McCoy had hoped he would ride Binocular in Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle, but will ride Kempes in tomorrow’s Gold Cup – “You have prepared all year for this and everyone in the stables has done their utmost so you are praying nothing goes wrong… And when it all comes right it is just unbelievable. The cheers you receive can’t be beaten”

Perhaps citing the ‘luck of the Irish’ isn’t appropriate. These sportsmen are clearly focused and ambitious, just as The Wild Geese® were. Congratulations to both and lets see what tomorrow brings. 

A Great Day for The Irish

As the Irish Diaspora spread across the globe, so too did celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day – which traditionally commemorates Ireland’s patron saint who brought Christianity to it.

St. Patrick’s Day is not only a national holiday in Ireland, but also on the Caribbean Island Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Montserrat, known as the ‘Emerald Island of the Caribbean’ for its founding by Irish refugees from Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Although this is a national holiday in Ireland, the celebration has become inclusive of anyone with many other nationalities taking part in parades and parties. For instance, many Argentinean cities host all-night parties in the streets and it is thought that most of those who take part have no Irish ancestry. Argentina’s Irish community which is thought to be the fifth largest in the world plays no role in organising these parties.

Across the US, about 36 million people are of Irish descent and since 1991, the entire month of March has been recognised as Irish-American Heritage Month. Last year US President Barrack Obama explained “it’s a testament I think to how close our two countries are that America has been shaped culturally, politically, economically by the incredible contributions of Irish Americans”.

The Irish Celebrate!

In London, the route to work today was lined with Irish flags – hanging from houses, pubs and small offices. It was a very striking reminder not just that today is St. Patrick’s Day, but also of the powerful influence Irish migration has had on the world. This is a day for Wild Geese throughout the world to celebrate Irish culture.

One of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the UK is held in Birmingham, which took place on Sunday  13th March, where over 8000 people celebrated the event.

But today in New York City one of the longest running St. Patrick’s Day parades will be held. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the parade, which first started in 1762 by “a band of homesick Irish ex-patroits and Irish military” – 71 years after The Flight of The Wild Geese® . The official website of the parade explains why its popularity has lasted 250 years: “The parade participants revelled in the freedom to speak Irish, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were very meaningful to the Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland”. This event is testament to the resounding impact of the migration of 1691 which is celebrated each day by The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey.

Last year’s event looks as if it was a memorable event and we’re sure this year will be unmissable.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey!

Luck of the Irish on "Ruby Tuesday"

Cheltenham got off to an electric start yesterday and turned out to be a really great day for the Irish. 

Already being dubbed “Ruby Tuesday”, day 1 saw Irishman Ruby Walsh win a hat-trick! Walsh upset the bookies when he won the day’s main event – the Stan James Champion Hurdle – with Irish horse Hurricane Fly. He followed up this astounding victory with two more. First with Quevega and then Al Ferof. 

Its thought that Walsh’s achievements have won punters £10 million in total. David Williams from betting agency Ladbrokes explained, “This time last year we were drinking champagne after all the favourites lost on the first day – now we are on bread and water”.

In response to winning the Champion Hurdle, a jubilated Walsh said: “There are ups and downs, good days and bad days in racing. I’ve been close a few times in the Champion Hurdle – I think I’ve been second twice – but on paper this was the best ride I had”. Congratulations to this Man of Action. 

We saw in Britain’s “i” newspaper an interesting top ten list of what we in the UK choose to give up for lent.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Alcohol
  3. Cigarettes
  4. Sugar
  5. Swearing
  6. Caffeine
  7. Sex
  8. Computer games
  9. Social networks
  10. Television

Lent traditionally a period of abstinence leading up to the Christian celebration Easter. In a modern world, however, there is now a much greater emphasis on giving up bad habits and at times has become the boost people need to change their lifestyle.

Good luck to you if you’re currently going without any of the above!  

Cheltenham 15th-18th March

The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching. Between 15th-18th March owner, trainer and jockey will be putting their hearts and souls into 27 races. This year marks Cheltenham’s centenary  – 100 years in a permanent location, proving the festival has come a long way since its beginnings and now has an overall winnings of £3,415,000.

The Cheltenham Festival attracts a very large number of Irish people and is an exciting prelude to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This adds to the unique atmosphere. Clare Balding outlines this perfectly, “Ask people why they love Cheltenham and they will talk of the craic, the magic, the camaraderie of shared pleasure and pain”.

This celebration kicks off today, “Centenary Day”, which will remember the extensive history of Cheltenham and its evolution from from humble beginnings to over 200,00 people cheering the “Cheltenham roar”
The event has already had many shocks – the latest being last years winner of the Stan James Champion Hurdle being left out of the line up. Previous champion Binocular withdrew from the Hurdle after testing positive for medication used to treat an allergy earlier in the month. Binocular’s trainer, Nicky Henderson explained, “As we were getting close to the most important race of the year, I thought it prudent to take a precautionary test which, devastatingly, has shown to be positive. We have therefore reluctantly had to take the BHA’s advice that the only reasonable course is not to confirm the entry and he has consequently been withdrawn from the Champion Hurdle”.

At The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey we’re keeping our eye on Hurricane Fly, who will now be ridden by Ruby Walsh and as always will be looking out for the extraordinary – Men of Action.

Journey of two 'Wild Geese'

Sometimes Men of Action are not always obvious. Sometimes they can be found in the shadows, making an impact in their own, unique way. The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey is celebrating one of these Men of Action – Alberto Granado, who passed away last week.
Granado accompanied the iconic Che Guevara – who was of Irish descent – across South America in the early 1950s – a trip that transformed them. Travelling through Argentina, Peru, Chile, and Venezuela, the pair encountered the harsh conditions of the poor and recognised a universal inequality. In a mesmerising interview with BBC news in May 2005, Granado explained, “the most important thing was to realise that we had a common sensibility for the things that were wrong and unjust”.
But the two friends went their separate ways, taking different paths in order to make a change.
Ernesto – who would later be known as Che – fought for revolution across South America. Che was one of 80 million Irish descendants. His father identified his Irish roots in his revolutionary activities, “the first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”. Uncompromising. Just as The Wild Geese® were.
Granado described him as a “doctor of the people” and fought against the cause of suffering. Granado, however, continued his medical career, by helping to improve the lives of those who suffered.
Their story serves as a reminder of how much a journey can affect a person’s life, and change their perspectives. Faced with the injustices on their doorsteps, these ‘Wild Geese’ could not simply drive past on their motorcycles and instead chose to make a difference in the world. 

Wild Geese sets World Record

The spirit of The Wild Geese® – captured by our brand – can be found throughout the world. In our search for modern day examples of “The Wild Geese® ”, we felt it was only fair to recognise Kevin O’Brien and the Irish Cricket team, who won an astounding victory over England last week.

On Tuesday, the Irish Independent reported that cricket legend Matthew Hayden had emailed current Irish hero Kevin O’Brien to congratulate him on his new world record. During Ireland’s astonishing win over England last week, O’Brien set a new world record for the fastest ever century scored at the ICC World Cup – with 50 balls against England. But, as the Independent points out, this was a remarkable show of sportsmanship. Matthew Hayden had previously held the world record for fastest century in the 2007 ICC World Cup, with 65 balls against South Africa.

At The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey, we recognised the uncompromising spirit of O’Brien, something he shares with the Wild Geese of 1691. In an interview with BBC Sport after the match, a rapturous O’Brien – proud of his new achievement – explained that his century put Ireland back in the Tournament“.

But according to Jim White over at The Telegraph, O’Brien’s efforts did much more than this. White explains that seeing an underdog achieving the unexpected has excited people and justified the presence of the smaller teams. “In a sporting world in which financial imperatives have all but eradicated the possibility of the genuine upset, in a competition in which the associate nations are invited along largely to provide gentle warm-up opportunity for the big boys… it was wonderful.” He continued that the attitude of the organisers should be effected by Ireland’s amazing effort – “After this, it would be a stupidly short-sighted ICC who now persisted with the plan to restrict the number of outsiders in the 2015 competition.

By influencing the attitude of the game and encouraging a variety of participation, Kevin O’Brien has captured the spirit of The Wild Geese® . An inspiration to a nation. 

The Night Surfer

At The Wild Geese® Irish Whiskey, we like to celebrate ‘Men of Action’ – those who are intrepid, adventurous and uncompromising – who are inspired to chase their dreams and relentless in their pursuits. A perfect example of this is Mark Visser. 

Fearless big wave surfer Mark Visser made a name for himself when he headed put into the deep blue to meet Jaws head on. In this instance, ‘Jaws’ is not the predator shark which emptied costal waters in 1975, but is just as terrifying. The 28 year old surfer left the beach at 2 am on 26th January, heading out to a reef break off the coast of the Hawaiian island Maui and met 30-40 foot waves, becoming the first person to night surf the break.

The conditions for a ‘big wave’ to form are very precise and usually only occur between December and February, when very strong winds and ocean swells combine. Timing was everything in this project, which took two years to prepare. Big Wave surfing can be incredibly dangerous, as surfers can be pushed down 20 to 50 feet by a breaking wave, and must get to the surface before a second wave breaks. The risks are increased at night, when there is very little light, which would make it difficult to determine which way the surface is. Understandably, this was one of the ‘most scariest but exciting experiences’ of Visser’s life.

Visser tackled the waves with a surf board equipped with technology designed by NASA for submarine lighting and had LEDs built into the buoyancy so that his support team could locate him.

As the first person to surf these dangerous shores at night, Visser is certainly a ‘Man of Action’. Like The Wild Geese® , who are the inspiration behind our brand, we celebrate Visser’s intrepid and adventurous characteristics. He plans to make a full length documentary of the risk-filled project entitled ‘9 Lives’, in which he hopes to show that anything can be achieved and inspire people to chase their dreams.