N is for Newgrange
A pile of rocks in a muddy field that the sun shines through once a year. Surprisingly, the Co. Meath attraction has recently been toppled by The Guinness Storehouse as Ireland’s most visited tourist destination.
O is for…Oirish
The accent popularised by Hollywood visions of potatoes, horses and festering misery. Irish people do not really speak like this. Greeting a native with a hearty ‘Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!’ is not recommended. They will smile at your face, maybe even buy you a pint, but secretly they’ll hate you forever. To quote the English sage Alan Partridge ‘Dere’s more to Oireland dan dis.’
P is for…Property
Ireland does not have a traditional class system, so one’s social status is dependent on the number of properties owned. Extra distinction is earned by those who purchased at the height of the mid-noughties housing bubble- their attendant super-mortgage will outlive their grandkids. Renting is frowned upon, with defaulting and bankruptcy seen as preferable options. Only teetotallers rank below renters in the Irish sliding scale of shame
Q is for…Quango
A Quango is a Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation, to which a government has devolved power. There are many Quangos in Ireland. No one understands who they are, what they do, or where they came from. What is known is that they are very highly remunerated for doing very little, besides taking tae and biscuits on the hour every hour, and tutting at the plain people of Ireland. Many Irish folk wish they would just go back where they came from, wherever that is.
R is for…RTE
Ireland’s state broadcaster is home to the world’s longest running chat show – The Late Late Show, and the world’s two oldest presenters – Jimmy Magee (182) and Larry Gogan (206). The pair are the only two remaining Irishmen who have lived through The Great Famine, The Easter Rising, and both World Wars.
S is for…Stretch
As in, ‘There’s a grand stretch in the evenings’ – the opening gambit of all conversations held in Ireland from March to September.
T is for…Tae
Ireland’s favoured non-alcoholic beverage. Served in large scalding metal pots, tae is consumed before, during and after each meal. Tae has a potent medicinal quality, and can be prescribed to cure both physical and psychological ailments. An Irish person in distress is customarily consoled by their neighbours gathering around, patting their hands and muttering ‘Don’t worry, Mary’s just put the kettle on. Sure, it’ll be grand.’
For reasons unknown the Irish refer to all potato crisps as ‘Tayto.’ Experts posit it may be Catholic guilt relating to over consumption of junk food as they, equally puzzlingly, refer to all soft drinks as ‘minerals.’ Note that Dubs, with clear post-colonial blues, refer to potato crisps as ‘King.’ Irish nutritionists have recognised Tayto as the base of the national food pyramid.
U is for…U2
Ireland’s greatest pop group. Lead singer Bono is the country’s patron saint, and legend has it that he single-handedly drove the snakes from Ireland’s shores. On March 17th every year the country pauses to celebrate the joy of Bono by donning sprigs of shamrock and drinking until they pass out. Bono has also been credited with curing cancer, ending world hunger and putting unwanted albums on your iPod.
V is for…Velvet, Black
A creamy pint of black velvet stout is a true Irish art form, bequeathed through generations by the country’s founding fathers. Each pint undergoes a ceremonial twelve part pour. Once the head settles it’s blessed by the wailing lamentations of two dozen freckled cailini. Only then is it ready to be consumed. Guinness is Ireland’s most beloved stout, except in the breakaway Communist principality The People’s Republic of Cork, where local brews Beamish and Murphy’s are favoured.
W is for…Weather, The Fecking
Ireland’s favourite topic of conversation. Nothing unites the Dubs, Culchies and Kerry Folk more than a good moan about prevailing westerly winds. No matter what the conditions, they are never quite acceptable. The nation lives in constant hope of a brighter tomorrow that isn’t as fierce wet/fierce windy/fierce close/fierce dry/fierce damp/fierce sunny/fierce mild.
X is for…Xcira & Delira
The catchphrase of Ireland’s most celebrated broadcaster Gay Byrne. Not to be confused with the actor Gabriel Byrne, Auntie Gaybo, as he is affectionately known, was the longest serving host of The Late Late Show. Gay is famed for his sing-song condescending delivery, and ability to patronise anyone of any age or status with a pointed ‘good boy’ or ‘good girl.’
Y is for ‘You’ll Never Beat the Irish’
This ubiquitous sporting chant has been proven false many times over.
Z is for…Ze Germans
Or The Germans, as they prefer to be known. Ireland is a small, needy island nation that has historically required a violent totalitarian overlord to function properly. Ireland’s current rulers are more benign than previous oppressors – they only want all the money and everyone to shop in their supermarkets. They haven’t resorted to violence. Yet.