Irish Stereotypes – Is there truth in any of them?

Whilst enjoying a delicious dinner last week, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation which made me rather angry. Three men sitting at a table near to me began to discuss Ireland and the Irish people. The conversation mainly centered around the IRA leading me to believe that they were into some dodgy dealings themselves. Their misinformation regarding the history of my country soon caused me to lose interest. The words which really infuriated me were quote ‘all Irish people do is fight, get drunk and have babies’. A very unrealistic stereotype in the modern Ireland of today.

Yet, what their opinion spurred my curiosity and I decided to do an internet search to discover others perception of Ireland and the Irish people. Some were good, some were bad. Some had a ring of truth to them while others were ridiculous. Overall, there were a variety of perceptions.

I don’t know why but once I leave Ireland I experience a strong sense of nationalism and the need to defend my country to the bitter end. Of course I may be biased, but I will still attempt to dispel such rumours.

Ireland still an extremely Catholic country – Yes but faith is dwindling fast. The number of people who actually attend a Sunday service weekly has fallen dramatically. However, many people still partake in traditional ceremonies e.g. wedding, communions. At the same time there is a strong opinion that priests should be able to marry, abortion should be allowed, etc. The recent abuse scandals have certainly had a detrimental effect on the Church. Nevertheless, during times of hardship, we still ask the Granny to light a nightlight for us.

We love the ‘craic’ – This is true; we certainly do like to have fun. Not much more to expand on here expect encouraging others to experience the Irish ‘craic’

The country is filled with huge, poor families – Even though we are currently in recession, please do not be fooled into thinking that Ireland has resorted back to Angela’s Ashes-like times. Admittedly, there are many families who are experiencing life on the bread line. Thankfully the country as a whole is better equipped to assist such people. This is also helped by the fact that the average amount of children in an Irish family is 1.38, nowhere near the numbers of The Waltons.

Three quarters of the country are alcoholics – Nonsense. I can look at this point from a number of angels but I think the best way to address this is by dispelling the popular belief that we spend most of our time in the pub drinking. Yes, the pub is a central part of Irish community. It is where friends are made, where people go to socialize, where fundraisers are held, etc., but many of the people who do frequent pubs are not heavy drinks. In a country where not much emphasis is put by the government into clubs and community centers the pub has served as a stand in for the lack of much-needed social hubs.

 

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