It's the 4th of July and you'd almost think it's a holiday here in Ireland, what with all the mentions of it I've seen. Dublin Airport is decorated in Stars & Stripes, local pubs are offering America-themed entertainments and specials, the local supermarket is using Old Glory to encourage shoppers to buy donuts and other "American" food and the hardware store is selling stars & stripes paper plates and napkins to go along with your Independence Day barbecue (which they're selling too).

These sorts of sales and events have been going on for years, but it feels like it's everywhere this year. Some people might say it's thanks to President Obama's visit in May and how he's made American 'cool' again (or whatever), but I'm skeptical of that explanation.

I think it's more likely that with the recession still biting deep, retailers are just trying any angle they can think of to entice shoppers to part with their money. Thanks to the prevalence of American popular culture the 4th of July is fairly well known as an American holiday, even if what exactly it's all about is lost on many people. It's a case that 4th of July equals America which equals a chance to sell stuff using American flag decorations.

There are no references to Jefferson or Philadelphia or the Liberty Bell or anything to do with what Independence Day means to Americans. It's all about an opportunity to sell things, which doesn't bother me in the least.

America has always been keen on commerce. I seriously doubt John Hancock or Ben Franklin would have any problem with Irish businesses trying to turn a buck piggy‑backing onto our big day. Besides, haven't American businesses been using St. Patrick's Day as a sales opportunity for generations? Turnabout is fair play, as the saying goes, and it won't surprise me in the least if I see someone selling "Kiss Me I'm American" buttons this time next year.

Of course the 4th of July is not actually a holiday here. Most Americans who wanted to observe the holiday did so yesterday. The American Ambassador, however, celebrates today.

Appropriately Ambassador Dan Rooney hosts the grandest 4th of July celebration at his residence {photo} in the Phoenix Park. The Ambassador has invited thousands of people to take part in sports, including football (American style), and American treats. It helps to have 1,750 acres of park land as your back yard. My own gathering will be significantly smaller.

Have a happy 4th.