May the USA like Ireland

The quirks of the Irish

Rain, red hair, catholic: Ireland and its inhabitants are said to have one or the other peculiarity - but what about the cliché?


Soda bread, butter, chowder and Guinness: a typical Irish meal? | © Katharina Behmer


Ireland has just 65 people per square kilometer. If you also consider how little area the island has, the Irish are a comparatively small people. But no later than March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, there are festivals all over the world in honor of the Irish national patron. And the United States, too, is proud that each of its presidents has so far had Irish roots - no matter how far away they may be. Even if one or two Irish people are annoyed about these "false Irish", whose caretaker might once have a brother-in-law from Ireland, it certainly feels good to be loved and celebrated by all over the world at least once a year.
A little insight into what makes the island and its inhabitants so special.

When you think of Ireland, you think of the idyllic pseudo-world from the butter advertising: A green island in the middle of a troubled sea, populated only by what feels like 10,000 sheep and a quirky farmer who smears a thick sandwich for his grinning red-haired grandson. So much for the cliché. But how close is this picture to reality?

Welcome to the green island

Looking north: green. Looking east: more green. Looking south: still green. And nothing new in the West either ... Welcome to Ireland - the Emerald Isle. But is the color really richer here than elsewhere? Apart from the fact that there are many meadows on the island where no arable farming is carried out, but only cattle graze, there is another reason for the luminosity of the grass. The mild Irish climate is strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream and does not need a real change of season: the meadows bloom twelve months a year. Just green.

Is it always raining?

An Irish proverb says: “Déanfaidh sé báisteach throm má thagann leipreachán to chlaíisteach sa chistin.” This means something like “When the goblin of the ditch comes into the kitchen, rain soaks the land.” The “goblin of the ditch” is one of them wonderful description for: frog. It is not known how many frogs there are in an Irish kitchen on average. It must feel like quite a few - because even the summer month of August has 24 rainy days. However, it does not pour continuously: between the showers, the sun often shines for hours from an almost ironically bright blue sky. Sometimes the weather can't decide on one extreme and the famous Irish rainbows arise. And at the end of it, the goblins again hide their pot of gold, as is well known.

Catholic Ireland

In the southern English coastal town of Bournemouth, a whole nightclub is quartered between the altar and the organ of an old church. Such an outrage would be unthinkable in Ireland! After all, in contrast to its neighbors, the island is considered to be the last Western European authority of the Catholic faith - apart from the Vatican itself, perhaps. Or is it not? The two authors of "Stuff Irish people love" Colin Murphy and Donald O´Dea have to correct this picture: It is true that images of the "blessed heart" or statues of the Virgin Mary that are between 15 centimeters in size can be found, especially in households of elderly people and 1.8 meters vary. However, Ireland has in recent years "become a less Catholic country than a non-practicing Catholic country, an agnostic country, an atheist country, or a I-don't-know-and-give-a-shit" auf-Land, has become. ”A not so new development, which was shown by the positive vote against gay marriage in May 2015 at the latest.

A red-haired people?

Does the Irish's famous wealth of children also suffer from the slowly dwindling fear of God? While a German woman has an average of 1.38 children, an Irish woman gives birth to 2.01 children. In terms of the birth rate, it is number two in Europe. However, this number no longer comes close to the average of up to 12 children from Ireland's past.

Of these 2.01 children, very few have red hair. If you look at the distribution table for hair colors, one thing is immediately apparent: it is not the Irish but their neighbors from Scotland who have the most "gingers" with around 14 percent of the population. In Ireland, on the other hand, just one in ten wears a naturally red splendor on their heads. Although that is significantly more than the two percent of Germans with this hair color, the image of an entire island full of redheads arises more from advertising than reality.

Irish eating habits

Vanilla ice cream sunk in a glass of Cola, hard-boiled eggs in butter, or toast that is only topped with pure sugar or crumbled chips - some Irish creations are a bit unusual for the palate of a mainland European.
The typical “sodabread” is very different from German wholemeal bread. It is dry and crumbly in consistency. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why Irish butter is so famous: you need it in this type of bread. On the other hand, the island has classic dishes like Irish stew, fish and chips and chowder (a thick fish and vegetable soup). Irish dishes are just a little different.

In Ireland, people are particularly proud of the traditional alcohol - whether it is the legal whiskey, the illegally distilled pushin or the stout. Especially when it comes to Guinness, one hears again and again from the Irish that it just doesn't taste as good abroad as it does at home. After all, it wasn't brewed from good Irish water. However, according to its own information, the Guinness brewery follows the same international quality standards. Probably the significant difference is more likely that it doesn't taste like home because you are not at home - or because the host just doesn't know how to properly serve a stout.

Irish humor

Irish jokes can be described as a bit suggestive. Combined with rather crude expressions, this results in a very Irish quirk: renaming sights. In the capital Dublin in particular, many public statues are affected by this custom, write the authors of "Stuff Irish people love". The famous statue of Molly Malone is also optionally referred to as “the dolly with the trolley” “the tart with the cart”. Even more modern characters are not left out of these insulting names: two older metal women who have sat down on a bench for eternity to recover from a shopping trip are also known as "The hags with the bags" (the old witches with the bags).



Katharina Behmer



Last changed: 02.06.2015

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