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Potatoes + Titanic x More Potatoes = Northern Irish Economy

Welcome back, fans, to the second issue of the WWN; “The job market/economy and your country’s environmental efforts.” Obviously there is a lot more than just potatoes going on back home. Within this (what was intended to be short) piece I will dissect the economic branches of Northern Ireland, including a folktale, my sister’s predictable future, a Lindsey Lohan reference, a catchy song that sounds rude but isn’t, and (in classic Northern Irish style) political disagreement. Enjoy 🙂

We’ll begin with the boring stuff first (although after some research it’s actually not that dull, and I will try to cram as much humour into this as possible in order to lighten the topic). Firstly, Ireland is pretty much one large farm: from ocean to sea, the landscape is as follows: farm, farm, farm, house, road, pub, farm, farm. Given the sheer volume of farms, it is accurate to assume that we have a large agricultural output (2.4% of the entire economic output which is great, compared with 1% produced by the rest of the UK). The majority of this is livestock, dairy, and—you’ve guessed it—potatoes! We also export Barley and wheat, but nobody wants to hear about those. It’s not like Ireland is known for their delicious barley, wheat and leak winter soup, right?! Potatoes all the way!!!

Just a potato

Energy Efficiency is another HUGE area of economic growth and in the recent decade wind turbines have become increasingly more popular in the news than Lindsey Lohan getting arrested or that one Rihanna’s music video that reached number 1 because of her “minimalistic” fashion decisions. I’ll leave that one up for debate, haha.

My sister, Tasha, is currently studying the terrestrial version of my own subject (marine science) back home: Environmental Science, which is an increasingly popular degree due to the growing number of jobs in the environmental sector of Northern Ireland. With a greater global focus on environmental sustainability and more careful environmental planning and policy-making throughout the country, Tasha is likely to thrive in this field and become a billionaire with a massive, worldwide wind-farm corporation and thus be able to support me financially so that I can go on holiday to the Caribbean twice a year while I enjoy my cozy mansion in the mountains of Belfast. That’s the dream anyway 🙂 Make it happen, sis!

The wind turbine at my home university: Coleraine, Northern Ireland

Back on track now: fracking (the forcing of gas out of the ground using pressure) is also an increasingly common energy supply, although massively controversial. Most people have an opinion on the subject and I believe that protests will continue to happen until the practice is banned.
CLICK HERE to view an amusing and totally factual song, entitled “The Fracking Song (My Water’s On Fire Tonight)”, which creatively explains why fracking (in America) is bad.

In terms of manufacturing, Northern Ireland has become very productive, particularly in and around the capital, my lovely Belfast. Our leading industries here are textiles (my granddad Jim actually owned his own textile business that my aunts and uncles all worked at and he still does a lot of textile work in his garage when he wants a break from watching western movies and getting yelled at by my granny. Standard grandparents. Incidentally their names are Rosemary and Jim and as a young, naïve boy I believed that the popular children’s TV show “Rosie and Jim” was based off of their lives. Bless your little heart, 6-year-old Jordan).

A promotional TV poster for "Rosie & Jim"

Alright, tangent over. The leading industries here are textiles, food processing, and electronics manufacturing (I know! It’s news to me, too). We are globally known for our engineering/manufacturing sector as well as one of the largest aerospace industrial employers: Bombardier, which operates part of their company from Northern Ireland. Some of my friends have had the privilege of working there. Belfast also has a widely-known tourist attraction that relates to engineering called “Harland and Wolff” which are two large yellow cranes visible from most of the city. The cranes are used for ship-building. The Titanic was famously built by these cranes before the cruel icy spring of the Newfoundland continental shelf quickly tore it in two. Note to self: only visit Newfoundland in summer and only by plane.

Harland & Wolff

The projected route of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titannic

My claim to fame: I went to school with the grandson of Thomas Andrews, the designer of the Titanic (he also has a character based on him from the hit 1997 film). His grandson was “unpleasant and unaspiring…” to put it in a polite, censored, “remember, you’re an editor, Jordan” way.

Here is this article's "must watch" movie recommendation from yours truely

One of Belfast’s districts known as the “Titanic Quarter” was recently renovated and is now a booming tourist attraction, with the number of visitors in it’s first year almost doubling expectations.

This is how Titanic quarter looks present-day

This is a news article from last May showing that Harland and Wolff have recently broken a world record, which proves that they are still the steel giants of the engineering world (pun completely and shamelessly intended).

Enough with the boring maths parts of economics and let’s get to the exciting tourism stuff. Northern Ireland (especially in recent years) has a pretty booming tourism economy and is said to be considered one of the most prospective growth areas for our economy. *high five*
Belfast and Derry/Londonderry (that city name is under much dispute from all that religious and political conflict I talked about in the first issue. As a guest in the country it would be best to just blindly pick a name and confidently stick with it) are known as the “cities of culture” in Northern Ireland. Derry/Londonderry has a lot of nice cultural events and music festivals but has a really noticeable homeless population and alcoholism culture on the street which can be a bit terrifying but I suppose all major cities have problems like these. The two other major tourist attractions include the Giants Causeway and the plethora of castles dotted around the country. For those that have never heard of the Giants causeway, it is a naturally formed coastal area of about 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns which eventually descend into the sea. It was produced by a violent volcanic eruption 50-60 million years ago during the Paleogene period. There is an identical area across the North Sea on the Scottish Isle of Staffa. Geologists believe that the reason for this is that these two areas were connected by the same lava flow.

The Giant's Causeway.. Ain't she a beauty?!

To make this topic interesting, I’ll describe the Irish myth that explains this phenomenon:

Once Upon A Time there were two giants: Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic Mythology, and Benandonner (sometimes referred to as the “red man”) from Fingal Cave on Staffa (Scottish Isle). The two giants had a long feud and one day whilst yelling insults at each other across the North Channel they decided enough was enough; they had to meet face to face. They both grabbed rocks from the cliffs and threw them into the water to build a land bridge. Upon reaching closer, Fionn Mac Cumhaill noticed that Benandonner was much bigger than he was and so fled back home to his wife Oonagh. When Benandonner reached Fionn’s house he banged on his door and was greeted by Oonagh who invited the rival giant in for dinner. When Benandonner accepted, he noticed a small (in comparison) baby giant in the corner and approached it. It was Fionn Mac Cumhaill disguised as a baby and placed in a large crib. Oonagh played along with the ruse that the person Benandonner was staring fearfully at was the baby herself and Fionn had conceived. Hastily Benandonner ran out of their house and removed all of the stones on the land bridge, tossing them aside to sink in the sea. “If that is how big Fionn’s baby is, he must be huge as a giant” Benandonner thought to himself, and so the pair never met in combat, and the Giant’s Causeway was formed.

Of course there are many varieties of this folklore but the basis is much the same. I guess the moral of this story really is either when faced with a fight or flight situation, just get the f*** outta there! (which doesn’t really explain the stereotype of Irish pub fight scenes in movies) or else the moral of the story is that even when it’s not Halloween, it is always acceptable to dress-up as a baby. I’ll leave that up to your deliberation.

The Giants Causeway is a World Heritage Site, as decreed by UNESCO in 1986, a National Reserve, as instructed by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland in 1987, and was voted 4th greatest Natural Wonder by a 2005 poll in Radio Times.

All the information above simply concerns Northern Ireland and does not encompass either the rest of the UK or the rest of the island of Ireland. Here is a wee link to show you the difference and why my corner of the universe is so difficult to categorize (in case my description in my first article “Irish And Not Ginger?! Breaking News!!!” was not clear enough):


Keep watching until about 2:18 however if you do continue to watch it does get a lot funnier. Helpful tip: Subtitles may be required as the gentleman narrating has a vocal speed similar to that of the popular YouTube-r: Watsky (for those of you who have never experienced this proficient poetic genius and singer-songwriter, I invite you to wake up and open your ears after reading this *cough* subtle advertising *cough cough*

And now the fun part of my article: brands that you think are Irish but actually are not
1) Lyons Tea
2)HB Ice-cream
3)Erin Soup
4)Cully and Sully meals
6)Boyne Valley Honey
7)Harp Lager
8)St Patrick (He was from Great Britain (to see the difference between Great Britain and Ireland, open the above link) and captured and enslaved by Irish pirates.)

My knowledge of Northern Irish economics is actually vastly limited; therefore I’d like to thank Wikipedia and Starbucks for being my two crutches the whole way through this process, and a special shout-out to my friend back home, and future roommate, Emily Dinsmore for her unrelenting motivation in me completing this endeavour.
Signing off for now, Jordan 🙂

Erin's Soup

Boyne Valley Honey

HB Ice-cream



Lyons Tea

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  1. 2 Comment(s)

  2.   By Helen on Oct 29, 2014 | Reply

    Another fab article & wait in keen anticipation for your nx reflections on our wee island.

  3.   By djhender on Feb 9, 2015 | Reply

    Thanks Helen, We hope you keep up to date with us 🙂
    The WWN Team

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