Defining what it means to be Irish is a tale in itself as to be Irish has different interpretations according to who you are.
To be considered an Irish citizen you don’t actually have to be born here if your father or mother was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth. If your grandfather or grandmother was born in Ireland you may become an Irish citizen by registering in the Foreign Births Register at an Irish Embassy or Consular office or at the Department of Foreign affairs. You could also become Irish if your parents are non-Irish nationals and have been resident in the island of Ireland for three years prior to your birth according to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2004 which commenced on January 1st, 2005.
So now that we’ve established that anyone of sound character can be Irish, let’s consider a few traits of being Irish.
You are not Irish if you do not mention the weather at least once in the day and weather always refers to rain. It’s a ‘soft’ day means a gentle, light misty rain (the type of romantic film weather as in Pride and Prejudice ) that is welcome. When it’s ‘lashing’ means the heavens have opened up and you must be mad to be out in it.
Guinness and Taytos
The black stuff or ‘genius’ beer is mainly drunk for medicinal purposes as it practically builds up your immune system to any possible attack and if you consume enough of it usually you won’t remember the ‘attack’ be it violent, verbal or just plain embarrassing. Taytos are crisps to non- Irish speakers…be warned if you ask for a packet of plain crisps you will invariably be given cheese and onion flavoured ones.
At 12pm and 6pm the church bell chimes for a minute whereupon you are supposed to stop what you are doing and contemplate the spiritual side of life. RTE, the national State broadcaster began this in 1950 and you can be sure you know exactly what time of day it is wherever you are on the island.
St. Patrick’s Day
The 17th March is indelibly printed in an Irish person’s DNA as it is a national holiday and everything turns green! Celebrations galore and the time when all the Irish jokes are retold reflecting the sense of humour that the people can laugh at their parodied selves and not take offence leading to race relations fall out as with some ethnic minorities.
Much of ‘English’ literature is in fact Irish. Heard of Yeats? Wilde? Beckett? On a serious note all you have to do is read Translations by Brian Friel to see how the English language was imposed on the Irish. Nonetheless Irish as of 2010 was recognised as a European language of member states.
Being Irish to me means having been brought up in an Irish household overseas with all its nuance, knowing ‘home’ was Ireland to my parents and that they would return to their roots before the ‘closing of the day’ and home being where the heart is, is my home.
26th September 2011