I have lived in Ireland for the last 14 years, but I am originally from Chicago. One thing I’ve noticed from living on this small island is the sense of national pride extended over cultural exports that achieve any sort of recognition abroad. U2 is the prime example from the rock world because of its massive commercial success alongside a sense that they were a proper group (unlike more recent boy band exports) doing it their way and earning some critical accolades along the way (from the likes of Rolling Stone, the UK music press, RnR HoF, etc).
More baffling is the elevated status given at home to the late Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) and Rory Gallagher. Personally, I see them both as footnotes in rock history, but in Ireland they are major chapters. To some extent, I get it: there weren’t any Irish rock stars until the late ’60s, and very few in the ’70s, so just the fact that these guys made it to the big time during the “classic” period of rock history is worth recognizing. But it goes much further than that. Gallagher is considered nearly as important as Hendrix, while there is a statue of Phil Lynott on a major street in the center of Dublin.
(To be sure, dying young helps. People are getting sick of U2. Had they died in a 1990s plane crash, there would now be a Lincoln Memorial-esque monument to them in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.)
To borrow from the sports world, this kind of “homerism” does seem natural, but try as I might, I can’t find an analogue when it comes to Chicago or Illinois. There is some sort of Chicago blues museum/foundation there, but rather than being funded by a civic or government organization, it was founded by the daughter of Willie Dixon using funds from her father’s successful legal actions against Led Zeppelin. I don’t think the broad swathe of citizens living in northern Illinois rate Muddy Waters, Smashing Pumpkins, the band Chicago, or Cheap Trick any higher than the rest of the general population does.
Hence the question: Is this musical homerism—overvaluing home-grown artists—in Ireland simply a result of it being such a small country? Or does it exist anywhere (on a local level) in the US or UK?