We are often asked whether Thanksgiving is celebrated in Ireland. You may be surprised to learn – especially if you think we Irish will borrow any excuse to party – the answer is NO. We’ll keep St. Patrick’s Day as the big one! Speaking of which, did you know that, unlike its Caribbean neighbour St. Lucia, Monserrat doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday.
Anyway, we digress. Perhaps we’ll return to matters Montserrat when we’re writing about that great Welshman (St. Patrick – not Tom Jones!) early next year. In the heading of this piece, we suggested a link between Thanksgiving and Riverdance. So, bear with us while we perform the usual Irish trick of making a short story long.
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual event in which up to 43 nations have pitted their song writing and performing talents against one another since the 1950s. You may never have heard of it, but it was the launch pad to global stardom of ABBA. For it was at Eurovision, watched annually by over 150 million viewers, we first heard the catchy melody of ‘Waterloo’.
Fast forward to 2008, when Ireland, already in the record books as the most prodigious winners of the contest with seven victories, chose its entry to that year’s contest by public vote. And we decided – kid you not – to send a turkey to represent us at the contest.
Ireland’s Favourite Turkey
Dustin the Turkey is a ‘fowl’ mouthed puppet who made his children’s TV debut in Ireland in 1989 and is still going strong, having graduated to a more mature audience. His Eurovision song, ‘Irelande Douze Pointe’ contained lyrics such as “Give us another chance – we’re sorry for Riverdance”.
Riverdance and Anam Croí Tours – 100% Irish
Yet Riverdance, like ABBA (and unlike Dustin), is a global phenomenon that owes its origins to Eurovision, which Dublin hosted in 1994. The host country is obliged to conceive and present an interval act that reflects aspects of its culture and this is where Riverdance was conceived and delivered. It was a five minute intermission performance subservient to the main event. This unleashed a stunning spectacle, succinctly summed up by BBC presenter, Irishman Terry Wogan, whose immediate comment to millions of TV viewers was “…hairs rising on the back of every Irishman’s neck”. Here’s a clip of the original performance. It’s about five minutes long but well worth watching to the end.
Forget the Calories
So remember, as you enjoy your ‘no calorie counting’ Thanksgiving feast, please spare a thought for the Irish turkey, and celebrate Riverdance by dancing a wee jig around the festive table. We wish you all a very happy, safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving from us all at Anam Croí Ireland Tours. Lá an Altaithe sona daoibh go léir.
P.S. Do you think Dustin might qualify for a Presidential Pardon ( he actually ran in an Irish presidential election and, because one had to have a first and family name on the ballot, used the surname Hoffman!)?
If you enjoy reading our blogs about Ireland and things Irish, imagine what it would be like listening to similar tales (some of them even true). All while soaking up the scenery and atmosphere of Ireland and her people. Check out our offers page for some great discounts and our special thank you to Covid-19 Frontline Workers.