What to know about Ireland when you are traveling for the first time has been written about several times on this site. I recently received an e-mail article from the Irish Central newspaper written by James Farrell which has prompted me to publish some travel advise. The article titled – The top ten reasons Irish Americans have no real clue about Ireland – (Please bear with me and read the list, the explanation will follow)
- We don’t live in thatched cottages
- We don’t say faith and begorrah or chase leprechauns
- We don’t drink all day or fight all night
- We don’t hate the british
- We generally don’t like American Republicans, We like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and their nuanced international world views than cowboys like George Bush and Ronald Reagan-sorry you tea party guys.
- We don’t think you are Irish
- We don’t like Danny Boy and sentimental songs
- We tell jokes about you
- We don’t know the the Murphys from Cork or the Sullivans from Kerry,as there are thousands
- We don’t want to hear any more irish jokes as they are pathetic and demeaning
Have you got the gist of his opinion? Can you tell what political bent he is from?
I had to count to ten when reading this list as I felt like its author was poking me in the chest with each word, WHAT A STUCK UP ELITIST PUKE. It is not my intent to sway a persons political view in this article, the point of each article is to be helpful. So, what to know about Ireland before you you spend 3 to 4 thousand dollars traveling to a really special and mostly pleasant place.
What to know about Ireland as a tourist, relax and represent, You will run into narrowed minded people like Mr. Farrell, they will assume the worst, you are a loud and proud American intent on waging war for the exploitation of the poor. They are not the majority, but they can ruin your day. Since you are on an Irish vacation your days are precious, avoid the politics, (check out previous article avoid politics)
We Americans are fed a lot of hype about rural Ireland, the thatched cottage does exist but more as a memorial of the past, much like Abe Lincoln’s log cabin. What to know about Ireland is that people live with as much comfort as possible, and the thatched cottage was from a time of meager means which is romanticized.
When you get ready for your trip remember that we are Americans, we like the connections to our past, the Irish don’t always realize this, the Irish you run into are busy living their everyday lives, but approached properly are very happy to be of assistance. The people who are use to tourists sometimes enhance the myths thinking it is what you came to see, there are stage shows and cabarets aimed at the tourist market, (think Dollywood). If you wish to understand the Irish culture, know there are many sides to it and you get to choose which side to explore. Example, I like the Irish pubs and Irish music. When I go to a pub, I practice pub etiquette, I listen, I keep my politics to myself until I am comfortable with the other people. I do not expect anything but a nicely poured guinness and a comfortable pub. When I open my mouth and make my order with the bartender, they know I am an American. I can’t tell you the number of nice conversations started with ordering a pint and leaving everyone alone. I never expect Irish music unless I’ve traveled to an Irish music festival, but I have had many times been part of local sing songs not staged for Americans as Mr. Farrell states, but started by irish locals who actually like Irish folk music. I’m sure Mr. Farrell would consider these Irish to be backward and an embarrassment to his high and mighty crowd.
What to know about Ireland is that you can make all the mistakes this web site was started for you to avoid, and still have a good time. I know because I made all the mistakes before. You know Live and Learn, they’re both a lot of fun with the right attitude.
As always A little connected story. On monday nights after playing Ice hockey, I like to have a guinness before going home, there are usually a couple of American musicians I chat with. On this night at the far end of the bar there is a group of Irish born Americans and Irish visa holders having a song or two. The two musicians start complaining to me about the singing. I tell them I like enthusiasm especially in singing. They tell me that the Irish don’t really like these songs and that this sentimental crap is is for the birds. I tell them that they seem to sound like they are Irish and they seem to be enjoying the singing. Well the American top 40 player can take it no more and leaves, the Folk singer holds out for another couple of minutes and takes off. (in their defense, it is not easy to be a professional musician and listen to regular people sing). So I make my way to the other end of the bar to the outside of this singing circle to listen. There’s a fellow and his girl, just over from roscommon named Martin who engages me in conversation, and I sing along with the chorus of a song or two. It was a lot of fun. Now this group consisted off two fellows from cork, one of their wives, a clare man and the two from roscommon. The cork fella’s wife I’m guessing cork, wants to hear Danny Boy. Now I know the famous writer James Farrell will tell you that the Irish hate Danny Boy, and I will tell you that the only time you sing Danny Boy is at your own party or when somebody really begs to hear it. But anyway, I look at this girls husband and ask are you sure?, He says ya she does love the song, One of the fellows starts then stops the words escaping him (as with most songs knowing the words is most of the battle) As he starts again I sing with him and find myself singing Danny Boy to a group of Irish Ex-Pats by request, something I never would have done if my musician friends hadn’t left. I finish up, don’t butcher the melody too badly, get a nice thanks from The cork man’s wife, she’s happy- so he’s happy (some things are universal)
I get to hear one more song before heading home. This was an un-expected fun time, can’t wait to tell the two musician friends what they missed.
previous articles for what to know about Ireland- or to enjoy your trip
first time in ireland
avoid the politics