They say that travel broadens the mind. Makes you see things in a different light, from a different culture. A different point of view.
For years I had classed this as something those pricks who go on ‘ah-MAWH-zing’ J1 holidays- while the rest of us were working part time in the corner shop- say to make us all mad jealous when they get back. Feckers.
But now I too will be classed as one of those pricks. I left Ireland 4 months ago, seeing as the government had classed it as Officially Fecked. The intrepid voyager that I was, I dramatically packed up and set sail, to the farthest, most remote and desolate corners……of the Irish Sea.
I went to Wales. And I can now confirm without reservation that it’s true lads. You LEARN stuff about yourself when you go away. Things which I would have never had the insight to have seen myself. Things about Ireland which I had never even known myself. Things which, to be honest I was still not 100% about, even as people said them to me. But the people of Wales set me straight. And Now I Know. I used to think I had a fair idea of what Being Irish was. I did, after all, have twenty years of experience under my belt. But my new found international and diverse group of friends, (mainly from around the general area of Wales) have shattered those naïve and ridiculous illusions. And now I sit before you. Telling you what I know now. What it really means to be Irish.
The Saucy Cow’s Guide to Being Irish- as explained by the Welsh and English
1. The Irish abroad are lonely folk. After years of sitting around enjoy Chef Ketchup and a nice bottle of Club Orange, we go to other places. Places which don’t have those things. So naturally, we have a bit of a tendency to get homesick. Luckily for us, the people of the UK know this. So when we meet the natives on our travels, being the considerate people of the United Kingdom that they are, they take this into account.
‘How are ya’
‘Ooh, are you Irish?’
- -and at this point, you, you little Irish coffee, will gaze up at this person with your watery little shamrock eyes, pleading with them, to do, what we really want them to do. And they will look back at you, smiling at you, in a knowing way. As if to say, ‘I know, little immigrant. I know exactly what will make your day’
And with that, they will open their mouth and launch into the most excellent and exact impression of an Irish accent anyone the world over has ever heard.
‘OH SHER JAYYYY-SUS ISN’T SOME WAN AFTER SCCHTEEEALIN’ ME LUCKY CHARRRRRMS bahahahaha’
An accent so good it makes us even wonder for a moment, are we really even Irish? This person has got it so exact. That’s EXACTLY what we sound like. They know us so well. If you pay attention, you’ll even notice us squint at them suspiciously for a fraction of a second, as if to say ‘Are you even Welsh? With an accent that good, surely you must be just some undercover Wexford man on some bizarre mission for the Irish government? Surely??’
Often we get quite upset when this happens. Because the accent is so spot on it brings all the memories of home flooding back. It’s like being hit with a bag of Taytos in the face. This is why, the people of Britain have explained to me, people often think that the Irish don’t actually like people imitating their accent. But they’ve assured me over here that we actually love it to bits, whether or not we know it. And the boiling rage I used to feel when everyone I met here did it to me at first was simply homesickness. If you’re reading this as an Irish person about to head off on a journey of your own to some foreign soil, and this piece of news has both excited you and made you nervous, never fear. I know what you’re thinking.
‘That’s all well and good Saucy, but how will I know where to find people so considerate to my plight, that they would ever so kindly do something as thoughtful as that for me?’
Well, little Irish person. That’s the beauty of it. They ALL do it.
Every. Single. Time.
2. Although the rest of the world is progressing through the 21st century, it’s actually still 1985 in Ireland. We may think it’s 2010 back home but that’s simply because like all other good things in our life, our calendars are imported from the UK. Sensitive to this as they are, when visiting a cultured civilisation like Britain, you will often be asked compassionately:
‘Do you have this at home?’
It’s the quaint little way they have over here of trying to wade us into modern life. Heart-warming and all as the sight of an Irish person desperately trying to call home on one of those cellular devices is, it’s quite awkward to watch. That’s why people will constantly keep asking you if you have things like that at home, to spare you the embarrassment of trying to cope with this new-fangled contraption on your own. Some Irish people might feel too embarrassed and lie. This is easy to spot. They may be standing on the high street about to walk into a shop, and the English comrade beside them might remember themselves at the last second and ask them sympathetically if they have any idea what they’re about to walk into. The Irish person, alone and scared, may tsk sarcastically and look up at the sign above the shop and scoff:
‘Of course we do! God do you think we live in the stone age?’ The English person may then look at them dubiously but decide to take their word for it, as the Irish person looks back at the store and wonder what in the name of god ‘M&S’ stands for.
3.We’ve all, at some point, been a member of the IRA. I know, I was dubious at first too. You see, it’s a well-known fact over here that Ireland has a population of 200 people. The official figure of 4 million is a farce dreamt up by the Irish government. Well, do YOU know 4 million people? No. What really happened was the government didn’t want everyone to freak out when we had to defend ourselves from the English. (We’ll get into that in a minute)
Irish government: Lads, we’re in a spot of bother here.
Assembled crowd of the entire Irish population: what’s up?
I.G: Well, it would seem the English want to eh, take over the country…
A.C.E.I.P: What?! Why? Sher what would they want with us? Don’t they know that we don’t even have M&S over here?
I.G: Well it would seem some of us have been going over there and lying about that…
A.C.E.I.P: *disgusted mumbling*
I.G: But that’s another story. Anyway lads. We need a favour off ye. Yer all gonna have to pull together and try and fight the English.
A.C.E.I.P: Jaysus! What! Are ya stone mad?! How would we ever... Holy Christ we’re all gonna be killed. For fecks…Sher there’s only… *looking around*…around two hundred of us?
I.G: Em, no. No. There’s loads more of ye than that! LOADS!
A.C.E.I.P: Really? Cos by the looks of it, it only looks like about….
I.G: NO REALLY. There’s way more of ye than that.
A.C.E.I.P: Well, how many is there?
I.G: Oh jaysus, there must be….ammm
I.G: Oh god it’s eh….the official figure must be around….eh…
A.C.E.I.P: *suspicious mumblings*
I.G: WAIT! It’s FOUR……MILLION!
A.C.E.I.P: WHAT?! FOUR MILLION? Sher that’s loads!
I.G: *very pleased with itself* Yep. I told ye so.
A.C.E.I.P: Jaysus. We could manage that lads…. Wait, I hope this isn’t like that time we counted all the potatoes we had left for the year and you told us there was seventy trillion…
I.G: No, no, nothing like that at all.
A.C.E.I.P: Cos ye know how that ended….
I.G: We’re the Irish Government lads, would we lie to ye?
And so the seeds of deceit were sewn. There were never actually more than 250 people in Ireland at a time, except for when we hosted the Eurovision. So ignited with confidence with the fact that ‘there was loads of us’ we banded together and decided to take on the English. We’ll talk about how that panned out later on.
Years later, nobody cleared up the whole 4 million lie. That is because we had to focus on the IRA. As successful as the war on terrorism in the north may seem to you, Ireland, north south east and west, is rife with IRA lunacy. And ye were all enlisted at some point. We had to be, simply because we’d run out of people to be in it. Some of ye were probably in it twice. But to let ye know that would be mental. So, as everyone knows, the IRA have those handy little do-dads that wipe your memory, the very ones which were used in Men In Black. Luckily, the people of Wales & England have a deadly sense of humour about the whole thing and love to have a laugh about how we’re all mad little terrorists.
‘Whoa, better not aggravate the paddy. She’ll blow us all up. Hahahahahahaha’
‘Over here for Uni is it? Or a ‘secret mission’. Hahahahahahaha’
They really are very funny people.
Also, this true count of our actual population, (around 182 after 18 of us emigrated after we ran out of petty cash) explains why British people always ask you if you know so-and-so from Offaly, or such and such a person who was Irish that they met on holiday. Chances are you almost certainly definitely do. It doesn’t matter how vague their description is. Sher how many Mary’s who went to Costa Del Sol could there really be at home? If you, the Irish person, don’t know who they’re on about, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to look shocked and disappointed. How could you not know them? Sometimes, awkwardly, an Irish person – clearly driven mental with culture shock – may have a little outburst similar to:
‘JAYSUS. THE COUNTRY ISN’T THAT SMALL YOU KNOW? I DON’T KNOW SOME FUCKING ARSE THAT LENT YOU A TOWEL AT GLASTONBURY. THERE ARE OVER FOUR MILLION OF US YOU KNOW?’
This is usually followed by a sombre moment between all British people present. ‘Oooh, shall you tell him, or shall I?’
4. Louis Walsh is a national hero. That’s why, when in a group of people watching X Factor, and someone mentions that they really think ‘that Louis Walsh is an absolute twat’ a tense hush will fall on the room as everyone turns their gaze towards you, the Irish person. Clearly this is massively offensive to you because naturally you love adore and praise the Walsh-meister. Don’t they know that the man is a genius? Sher hasn’t he made it onto the big show on the telly? And because he is the only Irish person in the history of forever to achieve anything like that, you, of course, love him to bits.
5. You are not here to ENJOY yourself, or START A NEW LIFE, or MAKE FRIENDS. You are here to represent your country. That means that every time you do anything mildly out of the ordinary it is classed as a characteristic of Irish people as a whole. Taken to hospital with abdominal pains? Must be an Irish thing. Expect lots of ‘Oh you mad Irish, always with your appendixes bursting and the like!’. You are not an individual. You are The Irish One In The Group. This means god forbid, should you ever refuse a drink, to stand dancing on a table during the instrumental in ‘C’est la vie’, or try to contest the existence of leprechauns, expect immediate cat calls of ‘CALL YOURSELF IRISH!’ This isn’t racism. It’s just the way all Irish people are, so now they’re just checking whether you’re an imposter or not.
The Saucy Cow xxx