Stereotyping can get up people’s noses, and national stereotypes can really cause offense. Unfortunately, the Irish have been much maligned by such blinkered thinking and applying stereotypical notions of the Irish when speaking to them can get you in trouble.
Here are some examples of things you should never say to an Irish person.
Anything in a Fake Irish Accent
This will only get a guffaw if you laugh at your own jokes. The way an Irish person speaks isn’t unusual, endearing or funny to them, it’s simply their accent. In a famous Alan Partridge episode the hapless DJ suggests to two Irishmen that the title of their programme on Ireland should be: ‘Dere’s More To Oireland Dan Dis”. Learn from the plonker.
“Say Something Else, Recite a Poem”
An extension of the first tip, Irish people don’t see their accent as a novelty and will become annoyed when asked to perform as an Irish person for your sake. Also, not every Irish person was raised on W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney and despite a rich cultural heritage not every Irish person is inherently poetic or musical.
“What Religion Are You?”
This will either get you into a deep and confrontational dialogue on the central tenets of Christianity and the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, which will usually run on into a heated political debate, or you will be told to mind your own business. Not everybody likes to discuss their private beliefs and there are even some atheists in Ireland, believe it or not.
“What Are Your Politics?”
Again, if you know the Irish person well you might have a great discussion about Irish politics, but asking an Irish person you hardly know about their political beliefs is rather bold and could result in your conversation coming to an abrupt end. Firstly, many prefer not to discuss Ireland’s troubled political history. Secondly, an Irish nationalist may have some choice words to exchange, particularly if you’re British.
“Have You Read Ulysses?”
Have you? Has every English person read Paradise Lost or the complete works of Shakespeare? Does every American read Mark Twain to gain their citizenship? Cultural pigeonholing is the same as religious or political pigeonholing. However, if you haven’t read James Joyce’s epic and love literature, do so.
“Can You Dance a Jig?”
‘Only when a leprechaun’s bought me a few pints of Guinness.’ Again, asking a question stereotyping the person in front of you is a bad idea. They’ll either laugh it off with a sarcastic remark, roll their eyes at your blinkered view or get angry: even if they can dance a jig. Should they answer yes, don’t ask them to do it right there.
“Do You Like Irish Folk Music?”
Maybe they do, but there’s a ton of stuff on iTunes and Irish people do actually have wider tastes than what is played, often for tourists, in Dublin pubs. Many Irish people do like their folk music, but ask them directly with a hint of stereotyping and you’ll be told, ‘Aye, I bought a fiddle yesterday, aside from U2 albums and The Commitments on video it’s the only entertainment we’ve got.’
“You Must Have The Luck Of The Irish!”
Despite being a mild and playful form of stereotyping, there’s always the chance the Irish person you say it to over a game of cards or at work will suddenly break down and tell you about how their spouse left them after a satellite fell from the sky on their house crushing their friends and family who were amassed for a surprise birthday party the day after they’d accidentally driven their car into a mirror store breaking every item in the joint. We’ve all been there.
“Will You Be Watching Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady?”
‘Only if eggs and stones are available in the foyer’ will most likely be the common answer to this question so don’t ask it. Margaret Thatcher isn’t exactly the most popular political figure in Ireland to say the least and even if Streep’s performance is a masterclass it’s doubtful few will be queuing outside Irish multiplexes for this one.
“What Are Your Views On The IRA?”
You’re not even considering saying this at any time are you? If the answer is yes, it’s best to say nothing at all to be honest.
Article written by hotels site, Go Ireland. Whichever part of Ireland you wish to visit, Go Ireland have an extensive range of hotels in Ireland in all of its major destinations.