Happy Paddy’s day to you all, or as we Irish like to call it ‘A day off work.’ I don’t celebrate the day anymore and I think I went to the parade in Dublin once when I was young. I never went again because the crowds are too large and there’s something unpleasant about being shoved about – like being at a rock concert with a bunch of adolescents. The tourists enjoy it though and there are plenty of foreign people who are living in Ireland that tell me they really want to see the parade at least once, to experience the tradition.
Years ago, the parade used to centre around the schools and the Billie Barrie dancing school for kids in Dublin, all strutting their stuff for the public. It used to be about floats and costumes designed by kids for kids and proud parents. Now, there is much more to the parade in Dublin. While the schoolchildren still feature heavily in the lineup, there is much more of a carnival feel to the event. The floats are exquisite, the costumes sublime – like something out of an advanced art class (some are), and there is a stronger international feel to the event than ever before because of the diverse cultures that live here now.
If you’re visiting Ireland, check out this website for the best things to do around the country this weekend.
For any other time of the year, check this out.
To celebrate Irishness, I have listed some well known (and not so well known facts) about Irish people and Ireland. If you’d like to add your own, please do.
Tap water is free in pubs and safe to drink unlike many European countries where the tap water is not good.
The seats and tables are arranged in a way to encourage conversation, not to segregate people from one another, as I have seen in other pub layouts around the world (including foreign pubs that call themselves Irish). Irish pubs are not simply rooms with things in it. The exception to that rule is the ‘Snug’. Next time you’re in a genuine Irish pub, ask them if they have a Snug. The best pubs do.
Unless there is lounge service (waiters/waitresses serve you at your table), you must order at the bar from the barman.
Irish barmen are possibly the fastest pint pourers in the world.
Barmen do not expect (or take) tips unless it is a verbal one!
Statistics say that we have one of the largest binge drinking problems in the world. I am not a binge drinker. When I do drink, I drink moderately. Most times I don’t drink at all because I’m not bothered. I have never been polled for this statistic. Results are skewed in my opinion and focus on the idiotic youth that think drinking until they fall down and black out is cool.
Many people, including teenagers, shun the norm and are teetotal.
Drink driving used to be the norm. Today, attitudes have shifted seismically. People are very intolerant of those who choose to drink and drive.
Irish people are friendly and get friendlier the further you venture into the countryside.
Strangers often start a conversation off by talking about the weather.
Irish people are helpful by nature. It’s why they are so interested when you stop them to ask them for directions. They are also nosy. I include myself here. Sometimes I’m simply curious to know what a tourist thinks of our country.
Irish people are fairly laid back. I say ‘fairly’ because not everybody is. There are some people who are negative about everything.
Irish people are extremely adaptable. When the euro was introduced in 2001, Ireland was the first to adapt to the new currency. Italy was the last.
Irish people like to complain to whoever will listen, but not when it counts, like when they receive bad customer service. When there is a public fight with the government, most Irish people don’t have the stomach for a prolonged fight and people usually get tired of the few who continue with their protests. Irish people generally like to see results. If none are forthcoming, they save their breath for another fight.
Irish men are a weird mix of fashionable and not fashionable. In general, they go for comfort rather than style. The ones that make the effort stick out a mile.
Irish men generally know how to talk about superficial things (cars, football) but not about their feelings.
Irish women are often accused of talking too much (perhaps in response to the men above).
Women’s fashion is far more international than in previous decades.
Gaelic Games is an amateur sport. There are two sports : Football and Hurling/Camogie. Gaelic Footall is played separately by both sexes. Hurling is played by men, and Camogie is played by women. This is fast, deadly and played like hockey in the air. It is the most widely played sport in Ireland, both at school and national level.
Rugby, Soccer are the second most played sports.
Horse racing is the most widely bet on sport in Ireland. Greyhound racing is second.
Trinity College is 117th on the list of the best universities in the world. University College Dublin is 159th.
Ireland has one of the highest education participation rates in the world. 81% complete secondary school and 60% go on to higher education.
NUI Galway is firmly established in the top tier of research-intensive universities in Europe.
While ham, cabbage and potatoes are staples in Irish homes, Irish people have a more varied palette than that. From Italian to Moroccan, to Thai to Lebanese, you can find pretty much anything you want in Ireland.
Irish Soda Bread, Black and White Pudding, Goats Cheese, Seafood, Dairy Products are all popular because of their delicious flavours. Ireland is a farming country and a fishing island. Our best products come from the land, yet we import fruit and vegetables to our supermarkets instead of buying from our local farmers. This is partly because of a lack of decent farmer’s markets around the country (with the exception of the English Market in Cork and the open market in Galway).
‘Soft day, thank God.’ – This has to do with the weather. A stranger says this to you, they mean that the rain is light and soft rather than torrential and they are thanking God for that.
‘Having the Craic’ – No this is nothing to do with Crack, or any other illegal substance. It is an Irish word for ‘fun.’
‘Would you go away out of that/would you go on out of that.’ - Someone’s response to a statement that they don’t quite believe.
‘Manky’ – Meaning disgusting. Often used in relation to someone’s outfit.
‘Do you see yer/your man over there?’ - It doesn’t mean he is ‘your’ man, as an American once thought I had meant and swiftly corrected me. It means ‘the’ as in, do you see ‘the man over there?’ Can work for females too except they are referred to as ‘yer wan/one’.
‘Culchie’ is a person who lives outside ‘The Pale’ or Dublin, that is, any of the other counties. A ‘Dulchie’ is a Dubliner living in the country.
‘Deadly’ means cool, brilliant.
‘Taking the piss’, means you are joking around with someone. It has nothing to do with urine.
‘Hole in the Wall’ is an ATM or bank machine.
‘Yoke’, a phrase used when a person can’t think of the actual name for something. ‘Did you see the yoke they have in town?’ In some surreal, innate way, an Irish person always knows what you are referring to!
‘Feck’ is a great word to get around saying F*ck. It’s also a word that escapes bleeping in films etc. A ‘feckin’ gobshite’, is an idiot.
And finally, ‘Go n’eiri an bothar leat.’ is an old Irish blessing meaning ‘May the road rise with you’. A person would say it to someone in the hope that their journey would be easy.