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Going home

Continuing our series of iconic Irish ads: the ESB ad. If you’ve ever had a home and left it, I defy you to watch this without welling up. If the Kerrygold is a Jilly Cooper novel, this is a Maeve Binchy. It’s so beautifully done in the way it tells a whole story, just through this man’s journey home from the train station, seeing old haunts and new joints out of the window, while Mammy switches on the electric blanket and takes the soda bread out of the oven … both things my own mother does. R recently posted this on Facebook and it provoked a lot of emotions (one person wrote, ‘You had me at the immersion, sob’).

These ads are so accomplished: I think advertising is a very underrated part of the Irish media/creative industries. It’s interesting how many of them play on the concept of home: Aer Lingus’s ‘Now You’re Home‘ is another one, or the Denny’s ad about ‘It’s breakfast time back home.’ The weird thing is that these ads were all for the domestic market: showing that even when at home in front of their TVs, Irish people still love to feel nostalgic and homesick. Maybe that’s not surprising because of course, in the ESB ad, it’s not just home he’s going to: it’s the foreign country of his youth.


  1. I just watched the ad (I was working earlier so couldn't play it). I remember it well! There's something very evocative about the music, car driving in the night, the rain etc … And the Irish mammy has a central role.

  2. beautiful post, especially the last line … one of the things that makes us so emotional about the ad I think is that it's about the deep fantasy we all have that we will one day be able to “go home” to childhood, away from all the lonely autonomy of adult life … one of the things that moves us is the awful knowledge that we never get to go back home. I suppose that is always a subtext for emigrants like ourselves every time we go back to Ireland.

  3. Thanks everyone … atoast: drag away!
    IGA: we certainly like to think so.
    A and H: Don't know that ad, as am deracinated emigrant – feel free to blog it up for us.

    Barry: thanks … I agree, it's about a yearning for a time as much as a place, and the song plays on that – it's actually quite melancholy: 'Now there are no games to only pass the time, no more colouring books, no Christmas bells to chime …' Who would've thought we could get so much out of an electricity ad?

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