Looking at the bigger picture

Yes, they make us laugh. Yes, we may have cringed a bit – ok, a lot – when they first appeared on YouTube and later on the Late Late Show. But Crystal Swing’s latest breakthrough is astonishing for a number of reasons, not least that most commentators are completely ignoring the bigger picture.

They’ve featured in this newspaper a number of times now, and Crystal Swing have managed to do something this week that really is newsworthy: they’ve reached an audience of about 4.8 million viewers in the US, and will soon be seen on TV screens across the world, in many countries where The Ellen Show is syndicated.
The family group were flown to LA for filming by Tourism Ireland, according to reports, at a cost of €3,000.
Responses from our Facebook page to the move and the reported cost included “waste of money”, “why are they famous anyway” and “why don’t we go back to the days of pretending The Quiet Man is an accurate depiction of life in Ireland to rake in the tourist dollar?”
If you’ve watched the clip of Mary, Derek and Dervla, it’s possible that you were a bit bemused as to why Mary brought Ellen a bottle of Jameson and started rabbitting on about Midleton, Blarney Castle and the sights of Cork and Dublin.
While Crystal Swing’s act may be rather old-fashioned, their instinct for PR and their use (however inadvertently) of new media to promote first themselves, and now Cork, has been absolutely spot on.
And, while our readers are entitled to their own opinions, it’s clear that this type of lateral thinking is what’s going to keep Ireland to the forefront as a tourist destination.
The naming of Cork as a Lonely Planet must-see destination has been accoladed to the heights by everyone from your local barman to the Lord Mayor, who can see the money rolling in already.
But the ascent of Crystal Swing and their canny, and very patriotic, use of the time they got – for free – on a top-rated US show is one of those lucky breaks that don’t come around very often.
Tourism Ireland’s reported investment of €3000 for a slot of about eight minutes is peanuts compared to the what they’d have paid for that same space with the same audience in advertising rates.
‘Innovation’ is one of those words the Government keeps bandying around. Innovation, innovative thinking, thinking outside the box, originality, etc, etc.
At times, we need reminding that ‘innovation’ is not an industrial sector and is merely one ingredient in making a particular sector successful or viable.
Tourism Ireland is one of those rare State agencies that actually understands the bigger picture – marketing Ireland abroad in a time when the global economy is on its way up again and ours is still in the doldrums makes sense. Reel ‘em in any way you can and then, once they’re here, show them we have more to offer than they originally thought. Lonely Planet must-sees, crystal swingers, Jameson drinkers, and lots more besides.
Appointing Gabriel Byrne as cultural ambassador may have been unnecessary… Mary for High Consul, anyone?


  1. Totally Agree, when you are in the Tourism sector you need, value and realise each opportuntiy. It was such a cheap "no brainer" decision for Tourism Ireland and so quick off the bat. Their NYC office would have pulled this together and they are a clever bunch there. Remember they got Global Iconic Building Green on March 17th – what other country does that – NONE. Ireland needs global support in the form of Tourism and also a little "remember we are here for business and leisure reasons".Regardless of Crystal Swing's style or whether its your taste or not, they speak very well and are flying the flag for all of us!!!thanks, Olive

  2. "At times, we need reminding that ‘innovation’ is not an industrial sector" – completely agree. Marketing Ireland abroad – completely agree. Crystal Swing on Ellen translating into increased tourism – I really hope so but personally I'm struggling to see it.

  3. @One Must Work, I don't think Crystal Swing themselves are going to be a massive draw, but I do think their spiel and the clips that were shown will be. That said, they appeal to an older audience, and older people are the ones with the money. We get a lot of US students visiting Ireland, but they can't afford to eat out, buy bits of turf in a jar, etc… so we may as well go where the money is!

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