It's often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case it is unfortunately true.

I was with my wife and son in Dun Laoghaire in Eason's, a well-known Irish bookstore chain that's been in business for over 125 years.

We were in different parts of the store when my son came galloping over to me. “Look at this,” he said. I was looking at his face and I saw that zealous young person's disgust with someone who should know better. In this case it was Eason's.

At first glance all I saw was nothing more than a touristy gift, one aimed at the thousands of Americans who visit the country each year. And this year in particular, there have been more Americans visiting Ireland than in many's the year.

I looked closer at what was in his hands and, it took me a couple of seconds I'll admit, but then I saw it and I looked back at him with the pride of a father whose child has done well.

“Oh that's unbelievable! How could they do that?,” I spouted. Headshakes.

They were selling the flag of the Ivory Coast as the Irish flag.

Yup, that's what is depicted here. You can always tell the difference because Ireland's flag “should normally be displayed on a staff, the green being next to the staff, the white in the middle and the orange farthest from the staff.”

Green “next to the staff,” and what do we have here? Orange next to the staff. That is not an Irish flag. {Note: they did get the American flag right.}

Am I supposed to believe that nobody noticed this error? If that's true, what does that say about the people who designed and made the magnet? The people from Eason's who bought in the supply? Those who run the store who put those magnets on display?

I still haven't decided if it was a cynical ploy to sell off shoddy goods to Americans who might not realize the error or if the people at Eason's really cannot tell the difference between an Irish flag and the flag of the Ivory Coast.

So what's going on here? A company calling itself “Real Ireland” is supplying these items. How "real" can they be? Seriously, anyone claiming to be “Real Ireland” should know what an Irish flag looks like, right?

I can't help suspecting that they knew, but they had paid for them to be manufactured (in China, no doubt) and figured they'd try and sell them to someone who either wouldn't notice or wouldn't care.

I can almost see that, but Eason's? Their flagship store is only yards from the General Post Office where that flag first flew, where the fight for Irish independence kicked off in 1916. Do they have so little pride in what they sell? Are their employees that oblivious to what they're selling? Nobody who works in that store (or other stores – God forbid, but those magnets could be on sale in every Eason's in Ireland) knows what an Irish flag should look like? What are they learning in school if that's true?

I did actually harbor some hope that most of the staff might not be from Ireland, in which case I would be more forgiving because foreign staff would be less likely to notice such an error. However, I didn't hear too many foreign accents among the workers in the store I was in.

I really think the most likely explanation is that a few people involved at Eason's cynically figured they'd pawn those magnets off on 'ignorant Yanks,' probably at a great profit margin seeing as they're faulty goods, and the rest of people who work there just didn't notice. Or maybe everyone making decisions at Eason's is just too dumb to tell the difference.

Either way, it's a sad tale from Ireland in 2014.

Easons selling “Real Ireland” goods that mistake order of the three colors on the Irish flag.John Fay