Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s hoping that the luck o’ the Irish blesses your exchange traded fund (ETF) portfolio today and that you stumble upon a pot of gold by the day’s end. Barring that, there are ways to play the Irish economy.

While you’re unlikely to find a pot of gold, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration is still going to happen. The party has been going on in Ireland all week, and they surely need a reprieve from their troubles. Charlie Price for Seeking Alpha reports that Ireland has been among the nations hardest hit by the global recession. Unemployment is way up, while retail sales have gone off a cliff. [Ireland’s CEF Has Gotten Beat Down by the Recession.]

Overall, the long-term impact upon Ireland might be one of the worst in Europe. Yet unlike Greece, strikes are nonexistent and people have adapted to the new austerity. And for the record, most things associated with the festival have as much to do with reality as leprechauns and fairies, says Sandeep Gopalan for The Wall Street Journal. [Will Ireland’s CEF See Better Days Ahead?]

At one point, Ireland did have its own ETF from now-defunct fund provider Northern Trust. The fund launched in a challenged market environment in 2008 and closed a year later. But fear not: iShares, PowerShares and State Street all have Ireland-focused funds in registration as we write.

There’s also a closed-end fund (CEF) to represent the Emerald Isle, New Ireland Fund (NYSE: IRL). It’s rallied back 118% since the market’s low on March 9, 2009. As a result of the global economic crisis and Ireland’s own struggles, the fund now focuses on Ireland’s growth companies. The country’s struggling banks are nowhere to be found among the top 10 holdings in the fund. [The Difference Between CEFs and ETFs.]

Drink up your Guinness, have a plate of corned beef and cabbage and stay positive. You never know when the Irish good luck will strike! Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

For more stories about Ireland, visit our Ireland category.

  • New Ireland Fund (NYSE: IRL)

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.