For quite a while, my workplace was located in the Guinness enterprise centre. The building was an old storehouse remodelled as an office building, situated in front of the actual storehouse. So every day I use to walk that road full of tourists and all those who try to get their living offering services to them: tour buses, taxis, horse carriages etc. As the Guinness brewery lies in an area far from the centre and any other tourist attractions, transport is the main service offered. But there’s someone else who offers another kind of service. He is an old man, always wearing the same ragged dirty clothes and the typical Irish woolly hat. In wind or rain, he stands there with an old horse and an empty cart, waiting for the flow of tourists. What he has to offer to all those rushed people who came to Ireland for few days is the visible recreation of an idea, the exhibition of a stereotype, the display of a traditional character portrayed in thousands of tales and carved for centuries on the collective memory: The “drunken Paddy”
Every time a passing tourist tries to take a photo of him, he raises his hand showing the price of capturing the folkloric essence of Ireland: one euro.
I never knew how lucrative or not his business was, or how real an image of himself he was selling. Whether if after his working day, he went home, had a shower and changed into his Armani smoking suit, or if he went straight to the pub to get drunk and ended up sleeping on the hay beside his horse.