posted on March 14, 2008 20:18
, house band at the Quays pub in Galway, are flying out to Beijing this week to play the annual St Patrick's Day Irish Ball here. The band have replaced Jerry Fish & The Mudbug Club
for the gig at the Kerry Centre Hotel, after some heated debate about artistic merit among members of the Irish Network China, which organizes the EUR100-a-head Ball off ticket sales and corporate sponsorship. It costs about EUR10,000 to bring a band out – the flights and the fee are heftiest, since the hotel gives a few days free board. Three Irish dancers are being flown out too, along with Carlow-based trad group the Geantrai Players.
Well done to the Irish Embassy flew twelve members of a traditional Irish music and dance group, Ceolta Si, to perform at the 2008 Beijing Chaoyang International Spring carnival in February. Ireland has been trying to get noticed among middle class Chinese spenders. It's hard to compete this year given "unlimited" budgets available to the cultural departments at larger embassies in Beijing, says an Irish diplomat here.
Much of the fuss is to help Tourism Ireland, which has struggled to bring Chinese tourists to the Emerald Isle - locals are put off by Ireland not being in the one-fits-all Schengen visa system. An office in Shanghai opened in 2004 has been bringing Chinese travel agents and journalists around the Ring of Kerry and showing off the country’s golf links, horse racing and castles. Guinness, Kerrygold and Bailey's have been doing well here - Kerrygold's sales rose 50 percent last year, the company's top China salesman Karl Long told me last week.