Perspectives on Ireland Part 1

Doors 20

Beannachtaí Lá Fhéile Phádraig daoibh go léir! Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I shall take it as my motivation to show you my perspective on my beloved Ireland! I started to take interest in the country through (how cliché) one of the local Irish pubs here, and later I spent two years travelling back and forth to Dublin, so I gathered most of my experiences in the capital.

Today’s post will give you an insight into

1) Humour

2) Fashion

3) Drinking

4) Linguistics

5) Music

and as usual, I will add a few photos!

Serious about men 22 Wall by the Liffey in Dublin.

1) Humour. I have to start with the Irish humour because I firmly believe it is the basis for the whole Irish nation! They have a very black humour and an Irish friend of mine explained to me once that it is very important to make jokes about how everything could be much worse than it already is – it’s really a survival strategy! I believe I have never met another nation that is so good at not only making fun of others, but mostly of themselves! I am surely a person of very black humour myself, but in Ireland I met my masters 🙂 I highly recommend watching a few episodes of Father Ted if you don’t already know it and you’ll get an idea of what I am talking about!

Brückenkind 22 Watch the crazy kid on the balustrade!

2) Fashion. My first time ever in Ireland was in March 2002 when my friend and I visited an Irish friend of ours in Dublin. I clearly remember how amazed I was by the weather – we had sun, rain, snow and thunder – within like 5 hours! This remark about the weather is important when it comes to the – mostly female – weird sense of fashion. My friend and I decided to go to a pub on a Saturday night. It was freezing, you see, so we were both dressed in jeans, woolen jumpers, winter jacket and boots. We walked into the pub and instantly felt like total peasants – most of the girls (and I mean huge majority of them, no matter what size in clothes they were) were wearing little breaths of nothing, little Summer sandals and of course: no tights! You can not EVER wear tights with a skirt in Ireland as it seems, without displaying to everybody that you are not from there! This was a culture shock for me since it is very common here – at least with the people who I hang out with – to just go out wearing jeans and t-shirt if you feel like it. In my first perception, there were two types of women in Ireland: a few who look just stunning and have a great dressing style and the millions who don’t. I only have the ‘few’ amongst my Irish friends 🙂 The millions also tend to force their bodies into clothes that are at least two sizes too small – girls, you don’t look any slimmer in them! There are clothes available for every size, you know! The cool thing is though that no-one seems to slag them off for it – very polite at heart! As for male fashion: most Irish men I’ve met wear chequered button-down shirts like this at ALL times! They also love to combine them with track suit bottoms – need I say more? Nevertheless, the Irish wear their fashion with a lot of pride so it seems to be right!

Liffey 22 The river Liffey in Dublin.

3) Drinking. Another cliché – but drinks are VERY important in Ireland. And the drinking you and I know is not drinking! I remember asking my Irish boyfriend at the time whether he had been drinking the night before and he said “No, I only had beer”. Ahaaaaaaaaa! Lesson number 1: beer is not an alcoholic drink! On another occasion I was at a party in Dublin and this girl I knew who was pregnant had a glass of Gin & Tonic in front of her. I did not say anything but she turned to me and said “You know, it really pisses me off that I can’t drink now that I am pregnant!” I just pointed at the glass of G&T and she said “Oh, I only had three or four of them!” Lesson number 2: three or four drinks does not count as drinking so you might as well have three or four, even when you’re pregnant! I saw another pregnant woman there once and she was drinking Guinness, but “Guinness has a lot of iron, so it’s good for the baby”. Right.
The fact I like about Irish drinking though is that they usual don’t become aggressive when they’re drunk. They just fall over 🙂

Upper Lake The upper lake of Glendalough.

4) Linguistics. As many of you might know, there is actually a language called ‘Irish’ or ‘Gaelic’ (even though I’ve been told that ‘Gaelic’ is not correct). All the street signs are both in English and Irish. To my German ears Irish sounds like German spoken backwards! The also have really long words but most of the letters are not pronounced, and I am convinced you cannot learn this if you don’t have Irish roots. And I’d LOVE to learn it because it sounds like a magic language (maybe this perception is due to the fact that I have watched all seasons of ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’ several times and demons and those who chase them seem to speak Gaelic a lot)! It is a fact though that everybody learns Irish in school but most people cannot or do not want to speak it. So it’s English with this lovely, lovely, LOVELY accent. My ears can spot a Dublin accent within kilometres because I love it so much. I suppose even if someone threatened my life speaking with a Dublin accent, I would just stare at him fascinated and with a stupid grin on my face! For some reason though, the men’s accent is often a lot thicker than the girls’ and sounds more… I don’t know – listen here!
And it’s not only the sound of the language that really gets me, it’s also the way they speak. Example? I asked for directions by car once (I was confused enough driving a car with the steering wheel on the right side and on the wrong side of the road!) and people are usually really helpful. So this person tells me to drive down this road, around a few corners, explains what I am supposed to see there and then says “And then there is a pub. If you see the pub, you went totally wrong!”. Well thank you! 🙂

Legion of Mary 22 Mary here scared the life out of me when I walked past for the first time!

5) Music. Music plays an important role in Ireland. I don’t think there was one single party I attended where drunk performing of Irish ballads did not happen! This also usually goes with drunk rants about how suppressed Ireland is by the English – the suppression has been long over, but drunk brains tend to lose track of time, don’t they? And I admit, my favourite Christmas song is ‘Fairytale of New York‘ by The Pogues. I also love Christy Moore’s music and was lucky to see him in concert in 2011. But these are all artists that everyone knows and they are what we expect of Irish music, too. I knew already that there was a small metal scene in Dublin but I had never seen any bands. Last year though, I had the chance to meet the great guys of MCGALLIGOG which is an Irish death metal band from Dublin. I cannot really say too much about their music because death metal is not something I usually listen to, but it brings me back to my initial point: the humour! A death metal band called MCGALLIGOG? When I hear the name I would expect yet another cover version of ‘The Irish rover’ but not evil-sounding guitar-shredding! So, their music is not for me, but I love the guys – check them out!

So, I am finishing up here for today. My heart is green today Ireland, mo chroí and I can’t wait to be there again!

Edit: if you feel this post was too stereotypical, check out part 2!

Your truly, madly, deeply!



5 thoughts on “Perspectives on Ireland Part 1

  1. Pingback: Short perspective on Ireland Part 2 and views on cliché | The German Perspective

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