An Unusual Limerick—From Forbes Under 30 Forum In Ireland

Here’s a surprising story from a place built upon them. It starts two years ago with an Irish contributor to Forbes, who, in writing a story about Ireland’s greatest business export since Guinness—the Collison brothers and Stripe—invoked an old nickname for their hometown, Limerick: Stab City.

That two-word dig literally got an entire nation’s Irish up. Forbes was bombarded with letters and tweets, mayoral protestations and newspaper editorials. We “sparked fury” (the Irish Post) and “anger” (the Irish Mirror), prompting podcasters to lash out. Politicians deemed us “disgraceful.”

True to a proper outrage cycle, the easy off ramp was an apology. Express remorse, nod, move on. But what was that really going to accomplish in this instance? Rather than performative words from across the pond, we would instead come visit Limerick, bring friends and see for ourselves what was going on in a city that I knew as little more than a cheeky poem.

In June, our delegation arrived for the Forbes Under 30 Forum. Forbes staffers and Under 30 Listers from America and Europe alike mixed with top young Irish entrepreneurs, along with funders, academics and local leaders.

What emerged was surprising: Around Ireland, red tape–cutting clearinghouses called Local Enterprise Offices bolster entrepreneurs such as Galway chocolatier Gráinne Mullens, a Forbes Under 30 honoree, who has now sold more than $1 million worth of chocolates. Government knowing how to jump-start business, then get out of the way? The Irish have a new story to share.

And share they did, over boat rides, rugby museum tours and pints (so many pints). Enough that our Irish friends will now be attending Forbes events in America this fall. A promise made, an entrepreneurial exchange born.

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