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Read this Before Coming to Ireland

Photo: Neil H

RECENTLY, FOX NEWS PRESENTER and resident angry geriatric, Bill ‘Fuck It, We’ll Do It Live!‘ O’Reilly announced that, should the American people elect Bernie Sanders as their next president, that he would flee the US of A in disgust and head to the land of his ancestors, Ireland.

Presumably convinced that upon his arrival at Dublin Airport, he’ll find himself in a conservative time capsule, where pasty-faced gingers ride along on horse-drawn carriages and dance merry jigs at the crossroads, poor old Bill seems to have been left in the dark as to how socialist and strict on gun control the modern version of the ‘Old Country’ is. So, here some key points on what 21st century Ireland is about.

1. This isn’t the Ireland of your great-great-grandparents.

There is the quaint and commonly-held view, among Irish-Americans in particular, of Ireland as an homogeneous island full of pasty Catholic white faces, called Paddy and Mary. Sadly, that just isn’t the case anymore. Ireland is a nation no longer morally shackled by the chains of the Catholic Church and sectarian violence; it has a young and vibrant population that is embracing the future and the opportunities to travel and learn. We’ve become the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular vote, seen peace achieved in the North, welcomed the Queen of England to our shores and, having seen its foreign-born population grow by over 10% in the space of a few years during the mid-2000s, are recognized as one of the most accepting countries in Europe of migrant workers and refugees.

Thousands of multicultural families have been born of this recent wave of immigration, revitalizing a hitherto pretty inbred nation with high Polish cheekbones, dark South Asian skin, and (here’s hoping) Brazilian football ability. The future of Ireland is going to be full of beautiful young faces with names like Paddy and Mick but also Kasia, Maciej, Muhammed, and Lakshmi. We don’t care what religion you are, who you sleep with, or what colour your skin is. Just don’t skip your round in the pub!

2. P.S. I Love You and Leap Year were not documentaries.

P.S, I Love You is famous in Ireland, primarily thanks to Scottish actor Gerard Butler’s complete strangulation of the Irish accent — something he was ashamed enough to publicly apologise for. It also put a lot of unfair pressure on Irish men to live up to this ruggedly handsome romantic image of the character he portrayed.

I haven’t seen Leap Year (honestly!) but I heard that it was God-awful and the story was centred around the main character making a convoluted trip from the west of Ireland to Dublin. Listen, we have highways criss-crossing the island now; it takes 3 hours to get from one end of the country to the next — it’s fucking impossible to have a road trip in Ireland!
Hollywood loves Ireland, just so long as it gets to portray it through the guise of some clichéd drunk IRA-supporting sweetie, by an actor that isn’t even Irish.

The theme throughout these awful films is that Ireland is an agrarian country full of charming little simpletons from the 1940s who live in thatched houses.

Brilliant home-grown films such as The Guard, Adam and Paul ,, and Intermission are far more reflective of Ireland and its people and if you haven’t seen any of them, well I envy you.

Hollywood completely ignores the fact that modern Ireland is a highly-respected centre for technology, science, and the arts. With one of the best-educated populations in the world; the biggest tech companies in the world, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have set up their European headquarters in Dublin. Despite having a relatively minuscule population, Ireland ranks as one of the leading countries for both quantity and quality of scientific research.

Lastly, please just consider the long list of talents that have come from this island of 5 million: Van Morrison, My Bloody Valentine, U2, Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Brenda Fricker, Lenny Abrahamson, etc.

3. The Culture of’Ah Sure, It’ll be Grand‘.

Ah sure, it’ll be grand‘ is a common saying in Ireland that exemplifies the pragmatic optimism of the Irish, or the ‘Jamaicans of the North Atlantic‘ if you will: the road ahead may be rocky but regardless, we’ll deal with it. This pleasure for ambiguity is reflected in the constant use of the word ‘grand’, which can mean a thousand things and serves in the non-committal to anything too high-flown. If you start slipping ‘grand’ into your daily interactions, then you’re half-way towards Irish citizenship.

The ambiguous, laid-back attitude of ‘Ah sure, it’ll be grand‘ can be quite infuriating if you happen to come from a place where decisiveness and punctuality is valued. This attitude towards life, rules, and regulations is one of the main things that differentiates Irish people from British, and other Northern European nationalities. It’s also the reason why the number of prostate cancer deaths is a lot higher here.

4. You think that the Irish accent is the sexiest on earth? Wait until you hear the ‘Dart’ accent.

In more than one poll, the Irish accent has been voted as being the sexiest on earth, but the truth is that there are myriad of Irish accents — in fact, in certain parts of the country, this can be fragmented into numerous different accents in a small town. With this diverse range, certain ones are amusing to the ears (Cork), others are downright terrifying (Belfast), while others are just utterly bemusing (Donegal); however the most infuriating of the bunch is without doubt the South Dublin accent — otherwise known as the Dart accent.

The Dart (or ‘Dort‘ as they would pronounce it) accent may have originated in the posh area of Dublin, but it sadly spread throughout the country during the greed and social status-crazed days of the Celtic Tiger economic boom, being particularly popular among young people. It is a contrived accent which denotes affluence among people who are actually empty inside.

Borrowing from middle-class British English and the nasally Californian accent, it is distinctive for its distorted vowels, so that “car park” becomes “corpork“, a liberal dousing of the quotative “like” or “loike” and every sentence ending in with an upward inflection, like you’re asking a question? But you’re just making a statement? Fuck off?

5. Lower your expectations.

Look, kissing the Blarney Stone won’t give you some magical ‘gift of the gab’; in fact, if it gives you anything, it might be an STI, as the local youths are known to sneak in and piss on it at night. And although our president does look like a leprechaun, you’re unlike to find one under the rainbow. Ireland isn’t a magical land where all your dreams come true; it’s just like any other developed country, where people are pissed off at the government and work towards those two weeks in Lanzarote once a year.

Be under no allusions that you’ll see hundreds of homeless people and you’ll be accosted by gypsies while walking the streets of Dublin, the bus will be late, it’ll piss rain when you make it to Killarney, you’ll be ripped off in every single pub and restaurant you visit and it’ll be too windy to crawl to the edge of the Cliffs of Moher. When in Ireland, do as the Irish do: keep the rage burning inside until it erupts during a heated argument about the water charges.

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