Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Typically Irish

Here is a blog written by our colleague, Sara. Sara is an Italian native who has been living in Ireland for 5 years. Some of her observations and takes on all things Irish are priceless! I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I did! 

As a foreigner you’ll probably be amazed and confused at the same time by some typical Irish habits. Each country has its own manners and customs, so let’s have a look at the most typically Irish things that you would never see in your country!

typical Irish breakfast
Food & Drink
One of the typical Irish meals is the famous Irish breakfast. Many Irish families would eat an Irish breakfast (maybe once per week) especially at weekends. This juicy breakfast includes: pork sausages, black and/or white pudding, beans in tomato sauce, rashers of bacon, fried/scrambled/poached eggs, buttered toasts (usually brows soda bread) and if you feel like eating healthy a few slices of fried tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms!
Other typical Irish meals you might have heard about are: Irish stew, potatoes (of every kind: mashed, oven-baked, colcannon, boxty, etc.), bacon & cabbage, bangers & mash, seafood chowder.
Irish favourite ‘snacks’ on the go are: full breakfast rolls  (take all the ingredients in the above Irish breakfast and put them in a French baguette!), curry or garlic chips, onion rings, burgers and fish & chips especially at night, before going home. Super Macs is like the Irish ‘McDonalds’ and is well worth a visit.
Let’s not forget their two favourite drinks: tea & beer. Unlike most other European countries, Irish always take their tea with a drop of milk, and for a reason! The tea they use (their favourites are Barry’s and Lyons teas) is different from the lemon tea you might be used to in other European countries as it has a very strong flavour on its own. Hence the need to add a bit of milk.
The most famous beer in Ireland is Guinness, a dark stout, but if you go to Cork, their favourite stout is the locally produced Beamish. A typical way to drink Guinness is mixed with blackcurrant juice. This could be a better option for those who prefer to give it a sweeter twist. Guinness is also very popular in many Irish dishes like Guinness & steak pie and the Guinness stew. Other typical drinks are cider (the most famous is Bulmers) which you can find in many flavours: pear, strawberry, apple; and the Irish red ale, Smithwick’s.

Irish at the table
If you take part in any celebrations like Communions, Confirmations, etc. or even if you’re just sitting at the table with your host family on a Sunday at lunch, don’t be surprised if you get all available courses (roast, potatoes, veggies, potatoes, ham, potatoes) altogether on one plate! Unlike some other European countries where it’s common to have your meal split into many different courses and to sit down eating for hours, in Ireland dinners don’t last very long and Irish have the custom of having an all-in-one course.

Irish at the pub
One thing that might strike you if you happen to go to a pub with some Irish friends, is that they will all insist on getting you a drink. You’ll feel almost embarrassed by their generosity and next time you’ll go to the pub with the same friends, they’ll get you more drinks again, leaving you even more amazed and speechless by such generosity. Well, it’s true that Irish are very generous people, but at the pub they usually buy drinks in rounds, so each person buys a round for all other people at the table. It’s really important to be sensible about the amount you drink so make sure to have some soft drinks also and don’t forget to get a round of drinks for your friends!

irish slang
Irish way of speaking
Irish use some words or expressions in their own particular way, so here we’ll try to help you understand what they really mean when they’re talking to you.
You’ll hear this word A LOT. Every day from everybody and in any situation. Irish are used to apologising for anything all the time. Say, you’re walking in the streets and you bump into somebody else by mistake, before you even realize what has happened, the Irish person will have already apologized even if it was your fault! Most European countries are not used to apologising all the time, so you’ll be pleased to be surrounded by such politeness!
Hi, how are you? / How is it going?
This is another example of a typical phrase you’ll hear from Irish people, it’s their way of greeting somebody and you should really take the whole phrase as a unique word, ‘Hi’. They don’t really want you to answer them all the time about how you’re feeling! So don’t feel disappointed if, before you even finish telling them how you are, they have already jumped to a new subject. Just answer the same way ‘Hi, how are you?’ or simply ‘Hi’!
What’s the craic? / Any craic?
Craic is a typical Irish word that means ‘fun’ and is used everywhere in Ireland. You’ll hear Irish people say ‘She/He is good craic’ of a person, meaning ‘she/he is fun’. Or they might ask you ‘What’s the craic’ or ‘Any craic?’ meaning ‘Any news?’ or ‘Anything good happening to you?’
Anything strange?
If an Irish person asks you this question, they’re not trying to find out your deepest and darkest thoughts or events in your life, they’re just asking you ‘Any news?’
If you hear an Irish person describing somebody else as ‘She’s savage!’, they don’t mean she’s a wild, uncivilized person, but actually the other way round. What they mean is that she’s attractive, good-looking. They might use this word also to comment about an event (‘The gig was savage!’), meaning ‘it was brilliant, it was great!’.
Yer man /Yer wan
This expression may lead to big misunderstandings sometimes. If you’re talking about somebody with an Irish person and they start referring to this person as ‘yer man’ they’re not insinuating this person is your man! It’s just their way of referring to somebody they don’t know the name of (‘yer wan’ is used when talking about a woman).

Talking about the weather
Despite what people say, Irish weather is not that bad. In summer you can actually go to the seaside and enjoy warm sunny days throughout the months of May, June and July. Irish people just love talking about the weather though, so here is the Irish rain slang that you need to learn if you want to be able to have a conversation with everybody!
Torrential rain = Unrelenting rain, falling in copious quantities.
Lashing rain = diagonal hard rain.
Bucketing rain = feels like you’re instantly soaked.
Pissing rain = vertical hard rain (less windy compared to when it’s lashing rain).
Soft day = a humid cloudy day with a light drizzle.

Meeting an Irish person
Some European countries have the custom of exchanging kisses or shaking hands when meeting a new person or when saying goodbye. Irish people wouldn’t really be up for exchanging kisses with people they just met or when saying goodbye. They would normally shake hands, or just give a very friendly greeting, but that’s as far as it can go. Among close friends it is common to give each other a quick hug rather than kissing on the cheeks, so just bear this etiquette in mind when you’re introduced to an Irish person.

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