How To Be Irish On St Patrick’s Day. Even If You’re Not!
On St Patrick’s Day we celebrate all things Irish. But not just the Irish and not just in Ireland do we celebrate. With the recent “shout out” from Enterprise Ireland about it being the best place for Start-Up businesses and RTE’s “How to be Irish” on St Patrick’s night I thought it would be interesting to chat to a few people from different walks of life and different nationalities about Ireland and the Irish. And being Welsh myself I got a say too
Have you ever lived and worked anywhere other than Ireland?
Afraid not, although I adore travelling. I did work on the UK national radio station Atlantic 252 in the 90s but we were based in Trim, Co Meath. It seemed like a foreign land at the time, but…
I think others perceive our attractive traits are warmth, friendliness and the ability to talk. For others they see our love of “The craic” and our ability to drink. Not too sure they’re attractive traits sometime, though.
I’m sure you’ve had some great videos sent in for the “How to be Irish” documentary – can you tell us any funny ones to look out for?
I love the puppet vox-pops on Grafton Street and the girl re-enacting typical Irish traits, but I’d be remiss if I told you this is a funny documentary. There are huge strands of it that are melancholy, pretty, thought-provoking…
What makes you proud to be Irish?
Our adaptability. We’ve spent centuries escaping, disappearing far and wide and colonising the four corners of the Earth and we fit in everywhere yet never forgetting where we came from.
Check out RTE1 at 7.30pm on St Patrick’s Day to see what Rick means about “How to be Irish”.
Alex from the Netherlands
I spoke to Alex Schregardus, founder of visitorM.com, about starting up a business in Ireland and what he sees as the main differences between The Netherlands and Ireland having lived here since 2005.
“There is a cultural affinity with entrepreneurship in Ireland that you don’t necessarily get in most other EU countries. There is a lot of support to start your own business. I guess the reason for that can be found in the relatively small size of the domestic economy which has led to an open economy that needs businesses to maximise the great opportunities that offers.
Ultimately I think there isn’t a great deal of difference between the Dutch and Irish. Yes, perhaps the Dutch can be more analytical, organised and punctual but that is a stereotype that doesn’t hold true as often as you’d think. I think in terms of business the Dutch share the Irish can-do attitude.”
Elli from the USA
“I’m Irish-American and also an Irish citizen but have never lived in Ireland. However, every time I visit, I feel like I’m home. It’s a goal of mine to eventually live in Ireland.
My favourite Irish trait is the love of conversation. Whether over a cup of tea, a pint or just in the front garden, there is always something to talk about. And the worst Irish trait I see is Begrudgery. Being told you’re putting on airs or getting above yourself when you experience success.”
Alice Anne from Scotland
Alice Anne Oliver is a lead volunteer with Make A Wish in Cork, Kerry and Waterford and is also a board member of Cork based Irish Dogs for the Disabled. I asked Alice Anne how long she had been living in Ireland, what she found different about the nationalities and her likes and dislikes about living here.
“I moved to Ireland from Troon in Scotland back in 1980…well my parents moved us to Ireland! I was 13 at the time and even though I spoke the same language (although some of my neighbours will argue this point!) it was a huge culture shock for me, particularly moving from a mixed secondary school to a convent! Not sure I have recovered from that shock and its 32 years later.
Part of my charity work entails going out and giving talks about what we do so I have met many people from various walks of life. I do find that no matter how bad things get in Ireland we are always willing to give something to a good cause – I think there is an inherent generosity in the Irish people. I have also lived in Holland and Germany for 5 years and the biggest difference I would see is that we are less formal – i.e. we use first names from the CEO down and we are, in general, friendlier. I have to say though that there are not too many differences between the Scots and the Irish and consider myself a bit of both, which comes in extremely handy particularly during the 6 nations!
What I like the most about living here is the friendliness of the people, how approachable they are in general and just the feeling that this is where I wanted our children to be brought up. What I dislike the most is surprise surprise…the weather! Although I can’t really say it’s any worse than Scotland but at least we had snow there!”
Amanda from England
“I’m from Essex, just east of London originally but I’ve lived in Ireland since 1996 and I really love living here. There is lots of stereotypical stuff I could say about living in Ireland, but it’s also true. Things like, it’s more laid back and people are friendlier. It can be a bit hard for an English person to get used to the friendliness. I often find myself on the phone waiting for the person I’m talking to to get to the point, but this is one of the things I love about Ireland too. It’s not good to be quite as up front as many of us English people are!
Dublin is the perfect city, small, easy to get around and there’s always something happening, I really believe it’s one of the best cities in the world. This weekend I did find myself arguing this with an Irish man who lived in London who believed London to be better than Dublin but clearly he was wrong!”
Sarah from Ireland
“I have been living in London for the past two years and will hope to stay here for the foreseeable future and get a few more years work experience here, but my aim would be to move home eventually. Due to the close proximity of London to Ireland I would feel that there are more similarities between London and Ireland rather than differences. The most notable difference is probably the pace of life over here and the vast spread of the city. I would spend a lot more time on public transport on this side of the Irish Sea but in general I don’t feel that far removed from Ireland by living in London.
Through my work I really enjoy having the opportunity to support Irish companies and helping them to grow their presence in the UK. A typical trait I see from all these companies is the drive to succeed and the belief that their company has the solution that the market needs. Ireland ranks in the top 3 for entrepreneurial activity in the EU and this drive is visible in the companies I deal with.”
Brian from England
“I’ve been living in Ireland 10 years as of May 2012. Prior to moving we were living in South Norwood/Crystal Palace amongst the hustle and bustle of the big city. When we lived in London, we had no children and were working for companies. Since moving to Ireland we are living rurally, own our own business and have two boys. For me the main element here is that Ireland gives off a sense of community. Having a business made this easier as we were warmly welcomed and immediately became part of the community.”
Sian from Wales
And last but not least, me I am originally from Wales and have also lived in London for 10 years. I’ve been in Ireland for 8 years, four in Dublin and four here in the beautiful countryside on the Cork / Waterford border. I find the Irish are incredibly generous and very family orientated. They go out of their way to help you in all aspects of life. I also find the Irish very laid back which is nice but does make them hard to sell to as it’s always “put on the long finger”.
And finally, bearing in mind the fact that St Patrick was originally Welsh and that there’s a saying in Wales that the “Irish are the Welsh that can swim” that’s probably why I feel so at home here. Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone.
I hope you liked these mini interviews and the different views of “Irishness”. What do you think?