Acclimating to a new country is so different this time around, thanks in enormous part to the fact that I speak the official language. As such, I’m able to pick up things about Irish culture simply by listening and looking. It’s learning at its lazy finest. Here, some tidbits I’ve picked up over the past two months:
- The political leaders of Ireland are the Taoiseach and the President. The President in Ireland is the head of state, similar to the British monarchs. The Taoiseach – literally translated to “Chieftan” or “Leader” – functions as a Prime Minister and is the head of the ruling party. The former Taoiseach was Bertie Ahern – father of best selling chick lit novelist Cecelia Ahern. The current Taoiseach is Brian Cowen.
- Brian Cowen looks like this:
- There are several political parties in Ireland, two of which are Fianna Fáil and Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein is associated with old school IRA Republicans. Fianna Fáil was started by Éamon de Valera.
- Éamon de Valera was born in New York, not Ireland.
- It’s all about 1916.
- Western Ireland and the Isles are where the fairies are.
- Waterford is where the crystal is
- Southern Ireland is where Cork is
- Cork is where Murphy’s comes from
- Dublin is where Guinness and writers come from
- All of Ireland is where the craic is
- The core subjects in any school are Irish, English, Maths.
- Kids learn Irish as a Second Language from Junior Infants (age 5) to the end of Secondary school. Few retain much after they graduate, unless they have a special interest or have spent time in a gaeltacht.
- A gaeltacht is a part of Ireland where a good percentage of the population speak Irish as a First Language. Many city kids are sent there to attend Irish camps.
- An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithras?
- Nil = It isn’t.
- Sea = It is.
- When speaking English, Irish people often say “I will/It is/I do” or “I won’t/It isn’t/I don’t” instead of “yes” or “no” because there aren’t equivalents to “yes” and “no” in the Irish language. Many grammatical structures and idioms in Irish-English evolved from the Irish language.
- Mums, wash your dishes with Fairy washing up liquid and feed your kids Flora butter spread – it’s good for the heart.
- Want some new clothes but the Recession’s got you down? Head to Penney’s or Dunnes! Ballet flats from 6 euro.
- Still have loads of cash to spend? Enjoy a trip to Brown Thomas.
- Have a headache? Take some Paracetamol. Feel a flu coming on? Drink some soothing hot Lemsip. Heartburn? Chew a disgusting Rennie.
- Remember, everyone: buy Irish.
- Craig Doyle is hot.
- TG4 is the all-Irish channel.
- Sponge Bob dubbed in Irish is amazing.
- Isn’t it great that John and Edward are taking the mickey out of that Brit show?
- Ah, but Simon Cowell can moan and cry all he wants; he knows they bring in ratings.
- Dylan Moran is a genius.
- Dara O’Briain is gas.
- Tommy Tiernan used to be gas but has lost the pot completely.
- There are such things are Catholic Atheists.
- Irish kids get hundreds of Euro when they get Confirmed.
- We’re living in a “Post-Christian world” but, by god, are we going to eat the heck out of some roasted turkey and fruitcake this Christmas.