“Pubs and alcohol come far behind in second place to the idyllic rural image a majority of Germans have of this country”

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From The Irish Times

STEPHEN COLLINS, Political Editor

GERMANS OVERWHELMINGLY think of Ireland in terms of green countryside even though only a small proportion of them have ever visited this country, according to a special Irish Times Ipsos MRBI poll conducted in both countries.

Pubs and alcohol come far behind in second place to the idyllic rural image a majority of Germans have of this country.

The other side of the equation is that Irish people think primarily of Germany as efficient, hard-working and clean with a well-run economy.

Mirroring the German view of Ireland, beer festivals figure high up in the Irish view of Germany.

The poll was conducted as part of a series in The Irish Times which examines the unique realtionship between Ireland and Germany. The series continues today.

The image of Ireland as a green and beautiful island has imprinted itself strongly on the German people going by the response to the question  “when you think of Ireland what comes to mind? ”.

Countryside and landscape was mentioned by 60 per cent of respondents with pubs and alcohol in second place at 20 per cent.

Things such as agriculture, farm animals, bad weather and tourism were all cited as was Kerrygold butter, which was mentioned by 11 per cent of Germans as coming to mind when they think of Ireland.

Irish music and dance also made some impact, being cited by 7 per cent of Germans, while the same number cited friendly people and beautiful castles and villages.

Just 9 per cent of Germans have ever visited Ireland while 11 per cent say they have plans to do so in the next two years. By contrast 42 per cent of Irish people say they have visited Germany. This figure appears very high but reflects that Germany is such a big country by comparison and is a popular venue for breaks.

The Irish view of Germany is dominated by images of efficiency and hard work, which were cited by 22 per cent as coming to mind.

Beer and festivals figure high on 14 per cent, with a well-run economy and country getting the same response. Tourism came next with 13 per cent as did jobs and industry.

Angela Merkel was cited by 11 per cent of Irish people as coming to mind when they thought of Germany. This finding demonstrates the powerful impact the German chancellor has had on the perception of her country.

Just 7 per cent cited Hitler and the Nazis as being things that come to mind in the context of Germany. Working-class Irish people were much more inclined to cite this aspect of Germany compared to middle class people.

The same percentage of people cited dominating EU policy as the thing that came to mind.

The poll was conducted by Ipsos MRBI in Germany and Ireland this month. It was carried out by phone among a representative sample of 1,000 people in each country.