It occurred to me that I should write something about Ireland or with an Irish theme in order to coincide with St Patrick’s Day* and cynically take advantage of the increased Ireland-themed traffic from Google, etc. But what to write about? I am Irish, we’ve established that. I wrote a book about Irish people that’s partly set in Cork (that’s just 99p to download the moment. Go! Quick!) but I’ve already blogged about that ad nauseam. We know what my least favourite Irish TV show ever made is. What else Irish can I blog about?
May I present…
My Top 5 Favourite Irish Things
… that I can think of this morning, and in no particular order.
Tayto (or Taytos – or Taytoes?) is a brand of Irish crisp, crisps being what Americans call chips. But it is also so much more than that, for Tayto is THE brand of crisp, not just in Ireland but worldwide. And here’s the kicker: they only bloody invented cheese and onion. Yep, without this little island, the world may never have had cheese and onion flavoured
chips crisps. Fun fact: there is even a Tayto-themed theme park. Fun fact number 2: the best way to consume cheese and onion Tayto is alternating bites with squares of Cadbury’s Dairymilk, but not the powdery bitter kind the sell in the States. Actual Cadbury’s Dairymilk, bought here or in the UK. You’re welcome.
2. Tana French
National treasure Tana French is one of my favourite crime writers (and the woman who beat me to Irish Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards last November BUT LET’S NOT DWELL ON THAT.) I discovered French back when I was living in Orlando, and browsing the New Fiction section of my local Barnes and Noble. I picked up In the Woods because it looked interesting, and was surprised to discover that not only was it set in Dublin, but French was Irish too. I’ve been hooked ever since. What I like about French is that she is unapologetic in her Irishness; readers from abroad, presumably, just have to work out for themselves what the hell her characters are saying to each other, because they talk and act like real Irish people. Plus she can spin a damn good yarn, and I’ll never forget the shock of that In the Woods ending.
3. Everyone wants to be one of us
I didn’t really understand this until I moved to the States and every Meet A New Person conversation included the line, ‘I’m Irish’ or ‘My family’s from [insert Irish town]’ which was very confusing for me because they were obviously not. America is a young country and what Americans mean when they claim Irishness (or ‘one-sixteenth’ of it as someone once did with me) is their heritage, their ancestry. The upper tiers of the family tree. I get that. The problem is people don’t use words like ancestry or heritage. They just say ‘I’m Irish’ and we can’t both do that, because that makes one of us factually incorrect and the other feel like their nationality is diminished by the sheer fact that every second person they meet in another country a few thousand miles away – where they and their parents were born and where they’ve lived all their lives – claims to be the same. It’s wonderful that everyone wants to be Irish, but if you want to tell any of us about your Irish ancestry, please, use that word. We’ll be delighted to hear about it. (But sadly, no, chances are we don’t know John Murphy. At least not the same one.)
4. Father Ted
Father Ted is probably the greatest Irish TV show ever made. I certainly can’t think of one that is better or has endured as long or has entered the popular culture to the point where no protest can take place in this country without a ‘Down with that sort of thing!’ sign. It was a sitcom about a trio of, respectively, drunk, idiot and morally corrupt Irish Catholic priests – and their tea-loving housekeeper – who had been banished to Craggy Island. (Grey’s Anatomy fans might spot a familiar face in the clip above, and none of us will EVER forget our introduction to national treasure Graham Norton, which occurred on this show.)
I moved to Dublin back in September 2014, because I was starting my degree at Trinity College. It’s a beautiful place when the sun shines, and the other 51 weeks of the year at least there’s plenty of cafes, bookshops and museums to hide in. And there’s so much history here, especially when it comes to writers and their books. For instance, a few weeks ago on a class trip, I visited Marsh’s Library for the first time and got to see where an eighteen-year-old’s Bram Stoker had signed the register for the reading room. Dublin is so much more than the Guinness Storehouse, a trad music session in Temple Bar and 57 branches of Carroll’s souvenir shops. I love it here. But I do recommend you visit during that one week of summer.
Cork, where I’m from, is alright too. We’ve got Titanic stuff.
(I’m joking, obviously. The seven sunny days are never consecutive.)
So that’s it. Have you been to Ireland? What do you like about us? Let us (all?) know in the comments below…
*It is St Patrick’s Day, Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day. St Pat’s is just about acceptable, but Patty’s Day is not. It is absolutely not, has never been or ever will be anything involving the word ‘patty’. Patty is short for Patricia and a patty is food, and neither of those have ANYTHING AT ALL to do with St Patrick’s Day. You do not get to decide what our national holiday is called. Thank you for your attention. Now go do us proud and get messy drunk.