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The Rose of Tralee and 7 other things Luxembourg has given us

Including Jean-Claude Juncker, Atlantic 252 and feelings of complete inadequacy.

LUXEMBOURG MAY NOT excel at team sports or boast many international stars but its small population of about half a million just performs well at life.

Politically stable, economically sound and socially adept, the state trumps most others in terms of GDP, literacy and employment rates.

And now, it has the International Rose of Tralee as well. Good for them. But what have they given the world in return?

Unfortunately for the small, landlocked country, having its stuff worked out and together has kept it out of the spotlight. To illustrate the point, by this morning, Google searches for the grand duchy were already taken over by curiosity about young Nicola McEvoy.

But that’s not entirely fair. Luxembourg has given us some stuff, including:

1. Jean-Claude Juncker

Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images

Here, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, who has become the face of the euro crisis, throttles Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos.

2. Andy and Frank Schleck

Pictured with their mother after a race. Aw, good lads they are and all. Image: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

Two of the biggest names in cycling, Andy and Frank Schleck were born and raised in Luxembourg City. The best fact about Frank – he is known for riding knock-kneed.

3. The United Nations

Image: CIA Website.

Luxembourg lost its neutrality during World War II but kept its peacemaking reputation as it became a founding member of the United Nations in 1945.


Image: This is a general view of the first session of the United Nations Organization’s General Assembly at Central Hall on Parliament Square in London, England, on January 10, 1946. (AP/Press Association Images)

4. The best pub quiz question ever: what are people from Luxembourg called?

Luxembourgers? Luxembourgians? Bourgers? Lëtzebuergers? Luxembourgeois?

5. Pirate Radio and Atlantic 252

But not on purpose. It was really the Brits’ fault.

English-language service Radio Luxembourg started in 1933 and was considered one of England’s first ‘pirate radio stations’ because listening to unauthorised broadcasts was an offence, according to UK laws. However, it was also pretty popular in Ireland in the ’30s, ’50s and ’60s.

The ‘Much Binding in the Marsh’ radio comic team. (Image: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Luxembourg’s most famous output is still probably its television and radio stations. It even gave Irish teens of the 1990s Atlantic 252. After teaming up with RTÉ, the Radio Luxembourg’s parent company RTL created the MTV of the medium waves.

6. More royals

But these ones don’t get naked. Can’t win ‘em all.

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg arrive at a lunch for Sovereign Monarch’s held in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, at Windsor Castle.

The Duchess of Cornwall greets Grand-Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg as she arrives for a dinner at Buckingham Palace, London, for foreign sovereigns to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.

7. Feelings of complete inadequacy

Luxembourg just has its shit together. Let’s compare, shall we?

Luxembourg, according to the CIA:

Even during the financial crisis and recovery, Luxembourg retained the highest current account surplus as a share of GDP in the euro zone, owing largely to their strength in financial services. Public debt remains among the lowest of the region although it has more than doubled since 2007 as percentage of GDP.

And Ireland, according to the CIA:

Faced with sharply reduced revenues and a burgeoning budget deficit, the Irish Government introduced the first in a series of draconian budgets in 2009. In addition to across-the-board cuts in spending, the 2009 budget included wage reductions for all public servants. These measures were not sufficient. In 2010, the budget deficit reached 32.4% of GDP – the world’s largest deficit, as a percentage of GDP – because of additional government support for the banking sector.

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