If you grew up in Limerick and lived to tell the tale, it turns out you are incredibly fortunate.
At least that is according to an article published by Forbes, which profiled John and Patrick Collison, the founders of the hugely successful online payments company Stripe. The Irish brothers have been receiving a lot of media attention in recent months, after Stripe was named as the most valuable startup in the US, worth a staggering $95 billion.
The Forbes piece took a very interesting view on the Collison brothers' narrative by leading with the headline "How Two Brothers Escaped 'Stab City' And Made $11 Billion". Unfortunately, the article only gets worse from there, with one of the most absurd opening paragraphs you are likely to read:
They call it "stab city". Many folks think Ireland is all rolling green hills and five-star golf courses. But in the middle of the Irish countryside is a city called Limerick - known as the "murder capital" of Europe.
A couple of years back, a gang feud turned Limerick into a warzone. Shootings, pipe bomb attacks, and stabbings happened nightly. Some bad neighborhoods are even walled off by a dirty, graffitied 10-foot-high concrete barrier, like the Berlin Wall.
Limerick is the last place you want your kids growing up. But two brothers who went to high school there recently beat the odds. Not only did they escape "stab city" - they moved to Silicon Valley, founded one of the most disruptive companies on earth, and became two of the youngest self-made billionaires in history.
Understandably, this has provoked a strong reaction among Irish people on social media, not seen since the fantastical description of Conor McGregor's upbringing on the mean streets of Crumlin by Wright Thompson in ESPN a few years ago.
Not only mistaken about Limerick but the idea of "overcoming" anything is crazy. We are who we are *because* we grew up where we did.
— Patrick Collison (@patrickc) April 9, 2021
— John Collison (@collision) April 9, 2021
The Collison brothers themselves reacted negatively to the "daft" article on Twitter. In the ensuing flood of outrage, Forbes first removed the term 'stab city' from the headline, before later removing the article from their website. What makes this even more bizarre, is that the contributor who authored the piece is in fact Irish.
Limerick TDs including Kieran O'Donnell and Patrick O'Donovan have called on Forbes to apologise, while the reaction has caused the #LimerickAndProud hashtag to trend on Twitter, with many natives offering a more flattering and accurate depiction of what life is like in the city.
I am calling on @Forbes to issue an immediate retraction & apology on disgraceful, baseless & inaccurate reflection of #Limerick City in article by Stephen McBride @DisruptionHedge on brilliant Collison brothers-very shoddy & poor journalism & an insult to our City & its people pic.twitter.com/Fz7nE0L0cM
— Kieran O’Donnell TD for Limerick City Constituency (@kodonnellLK) April 9, 2021
As a representative of the Government here in Limerick I am calling tonight on @Forbes and @DisruptionHedge to immediately apologise to the people of Limerick for the insult and hurt caused by the article published.
— Patrick O'Donovan (@podonovan) April 9, 2021
The wall didn’t look too bad to me!!🙄 https://t.co/SjAOBB3Rrc
— Keith Earls (@KEITHEARLS87) April 9, 2021
This wet fart that Forbes printed is why Limerick people don’t like “stab city” jokes. It’s inaccurate and unfair and has a negative impact on people visiting us and how we’re perceived. Limerick is a grand place, and we’re all a bit tired of having to say it constantly pic.twitter.com/l4ap0uJNFX
— The Blindboy Podcast (@Rubberbandits) April 10, 2021
— Elaina Ryan (@elainajryan) April 9, 2021
After seeing the defamatory article about #Limerick in @Forbes I want Limerick people to tweet a picture or pictures of this beautiful county that they took to show what Limerick is all about and RT it using these hash tags #Fabcity #Limerick pic.twitter.com/exdj9HSk29
— Paddy🇮🇪 (@hartnett1977) April 9, 2021
Glad to see @Forbes has removed the offensive, ill informed & misleading article. Its characterisation of Limerick could not be more wrong & is blind to the damage such a depiction can do. Limerick is a city on the march. A fabulous city with great people. https://t.co/64otcaYg6u
— Michael McGrath (@mmcgrathtd) April 10, 2021
— Emma Langford (@ELangfordMusic) April 9, 2021