Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Best wishes for a fun and (relatively) sober St. Patrick's Day. While we're thinking about Ireland and the Irish, here's my top five or so myths about the Emerald Isle most widely held among Irishophiles here in the US:

1) Corned beef and cabbage is NOT strictly speaking an Irish dish. It is an Irish-American dish, because corned beef was about the cheapest cut of meat you could buy in New York or Boston, and no immigrant had much money to spend. What you will find on Irish menus in Ireland are things like salmon, lamb, pork, Irish stew and just about any dish from around the world--that is, if you are in one of those pricey Dublin five-star hotels. My advice: concentrate on the SODA BREAD, which can't be replicated here.

2) The only people who eat IRISH OATMEAL are TOURISTS. I based this on the fact that you never see Irish oatmeal anywhere in Eire except in places frequented by foreigners.

3) Irish people are not all backslapping, hail-fellow-well-met types like movie priest Barry Fitzgerald. Nor are they inclined to go all to pieces when they meet you, because they see foreigners, especially Americanos, all the time. They ARE some of the friendliest people you will meet, though.

4) Irish people have a reputation for fighting and for opting for violence in solving problems. There's a lot to that. What you might NOT know is that they are one of the few peoples--the ONLY one I know of, actually--who arrange to honor poetry and poems in their public parks. There are any number of poems on stone slabs in places like St. Stephen Green in Dublin. Who would've thunk it?

5) Gaelic is not a dead language, not at all. In the Irish republic, it's a required subject in elementary schools, and in some places like Co. Donegal, if you don't know Gaelic, you won't be able to read the road signs!

6) We all DO speak the same language, English, even if you do have to ask people in northern Ireland to repeat themselves about four times each time they open their mouths!

7) It is NOT TRUE that the Irish refuse to walk their dogs in cemeteries. I met the nicest canines--retired greyhounds, mostly--looking for IRA shrines and graves in Milltown cemetery, Belfast.

Now that you've been stripped of all your illusions, on with the holiday, and do plan a trip to the Emerald Isle. You'll get a warm welcome, except when you forget yourself and drift over into the wrong lane on the highway!


jodmeister said...

Why on earth would one eat oatmeal when there all the yummy scones to be had. Do the Irish eat clotted cream or is that strictly an English thing?

moville said...

that's right, the scones are to die for too. there again, you can't make them here like they can there. and there is plenty of clotted cream, too. the other thing they've got everywhere is great little sandwich can get any kind of sandwich, a bottle of sparkling water and a little bit of soup for about $6. the earl of sandwich was in the neighborhood often, i guess.