As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, there’s always heaps of pieces such as this one about the things that make us Irish, as every man and his dog the world over wants to claim their heritage. You know the types – “oh I’m Irish as well! My great grandmother’s dog’s cousin’s boyfriend is Irish!”
But unless you’ve been born, reared and immersed in Ireland and our wide ranging culture then you’ve no real idea, and I’m not sure I could even explain it. But I’ll give it a lash.
To me, the feeling of being Irish and patriotic always comes on strongest around Paddy’s Day. To see a day being celebrated all over the world just for us and who we are is really quite exciting and moving to see.
I think feeling Irish is like being part of a club of a few million people who just want to have a laugh and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
And everyone wants to be in this club (the grandmother’s dog’s cousin story again) but although we humour them and let them tell us whatever they think they know about our island, we know in ourselves that they ain’t as cool as us.
There are loads of stereotypes surrounding the Irish – most notably, that we’re constantly pissed, love fighting when pissed and all have a Kerry accent. No.
There are lots of things that we all have in common on the island but having the same accent isn’t one of them. In Dublin alone you’ll find about three or four distinctive ones and as for the rest of country, pretty much every county differs from each other.
The stuff that we DO have in common includes being the absolute craic, having the quintessential Irish Mammy, saying “bye” at least 14 times before hanging up the phone and the nationwide debate between Barry’s and Lyon’s. (Just for the record, Lyon’s is rotten, Barry’s for life).
We do have a problem with our drinking attitudes, there’s no doubt.
Out of control drinking is a big problem that needs to be addressed but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of people in Ireland that enjoy a sensible few drinks at the weekend and have great nights that don’t end with puking in the alleyway beside Coppers.
Believe it or not, we ARE able to drink without fighting and we CAN be sensible about how much we drink. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.
This brings me on to the bigger question of our culture as a whole. We have an unrivalled atmosphere in Ireland that people just can’t seem to get enough of, including us. Our sports, music, dancing and singing are sacred to us and are unparalleled anywhere else.
Sure, Americans have American football and Canadians have their ice hockey but I’d love to see them pick up a sliotar and run across a pitch with it balanced on the end of a big wooden stick. That shit is hard! And we’ve mastered it!
Like I said, it’s hard to explain what it’s like to be Irish.. All I can do is lay out what Ireland itself has been like the past few days – our national anthem Maniac 2000 went back to number 1, the Irish government legalised drugs for a couple of days, the sun’s come out after a rotten Winter so naturally everyone’s going around in sandals and no jacket even though the wind is (literally) going 90.
Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart just made a video warning us “not to make eye contact with the scobie on the Luas” and to "avoid dark alleys and Co. Meath" this Paddy’s Day.
I think this week has pretty much summed up Irishness – it’s all a bit of craic!