Coming up to St. Patrick’s Day, many Irish stereotypes resurface. We’ll admit, there are many sheep, the people are friendly and Guinness is our pride and joy. However, there are some beliefs that simply need to be put to rest. If you find yourself in a conversation with an Irish person, here are some of the stereotypes to avoid!
A Land of Isolation
‘Have you ever heard of Breaking Bad?’ ‘How did you get an iPhone?’ ‘Can you fly there?’ These are just a few of the many outrageous questions Irish people get asked when they venture to other parts of the world. Due to the romantic idea of Ireland as an island of green fields and sheep, many carry the false assumption that we have neither Netflix, smartphones nor transport. What’s more, my level of spoken English was complemented a surprising amount of times during my time spent in the United States. This brought to light the large number of people who still think that Ireland is an Irish-speaking nation. Although there are a few Gaeltacht regions in Ireland where Irish is considered the first language, English is also still spoken. So, if you encounter an Irish person, do not be surprised when they speak fluent English and avoid any questions about electricity.
Yes, there are historical examples of Irish kilts. However, in all of my years growing up in this country, I am yet to see one being worn. It is Scotland that still has the kilt as part of their inherent culture and identity. Scotland regards the kilt as a formal or national dress and it is worn at occasions and weddings. If you walk down a street in Ireland wearing a kilt, you will most likely be the only one doing so. If you’ve forked out some money on a kilt for this Paddy’s Day, perhaps consider returning it and opting for this appropriate shamrock suit instead.
Corned beef is served all over The United States on March 17th as a nod to the Irish culture. However, if you’re on the hunt for this salty meat in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll be searching for a while. Pork is the meat that we regularly consume with the meal of cabbage and potatoes. Back in the Celtic tradition, cows were sacred animals and therefore rarely eaten. The English, on the other hand, were very fond of beef. So much so, that their own beef supply was not sufficient. Therefore, Ireland began shipping beef preserved by salt crystals to England. The Irish themselves rarely ate it, it was too expensive. The idea travelled to America where it was produced with Jewish kosher brisket. The Irish who migrated to America after the Great Famine could afford brisket and took full advantage of this. However, the renowned corned beef of today was and is rarely eaten in Ireland and its roots are in Jewish-American kosher butcher shops.
The pub is admittedly the usual meeting point for an Irish social gathering, however, this is not to say that most Irish people drink excessively. As is the case in many countries, some people in Ireland enjoy the occasional drink and night out. However, a survey that involved 10,000 people revealed that over 19% of Irish people don’t drink at all! St Patrick’s Day was originally a day of religious observance in Ireland and many spend the day at events and parades with family and friends before heading to the pub for a pint or two. Don’t be the laughing stock and be sure to pace yourself and drink responsibly this St. Patrick’s Day!
Red Hair Everywhere
If you arrive in Ireland and expect a sea of red-heads, you’ll be disappointed. Ireland has the second-highest population percentage of gingers in the world after Scotland. However, this population percentage is still only 10%. Plus, this 10% includes auburn and strawberry blonde- not just the infamous vibrant red that sits on a leprechaun’s head! The most common hair colour of Ireland is actually brown.
We Live Off Potatoes
There’s no denying that there’s a sack of potatoes in every Irish family home. However, that’s not to say that they are what we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, since moving out of my family home, potatoes have not once been included in my weekly food shop. There’s a false belief that Irish food is boring and bland when in fact, there are many Irish-made food companies for all kinds of diets that are known worldwide, such as Butlers Chocolates. The Irish food scene is focused on locally-sourced, fresh ingredients with many cities offering a huge variety of cuisines. Not to mention our little island has 15 Michelin star restaurants!
That concludes our debunking of Irish stereotypes! Was there anything in particular that surprised you on this list? Let us know in the comments below.