Take the test: how much do you really know about Ireland?

 

On St Patrick’s Day last year, I sat in a bar in Liverpool and watched through its windows as the city descended rapidly into a revelry of green-hatted violence and astounding levels of collective drunkenness that made the city look like a place in the early stages of the apocalypse – if the four horsemen sported bouncing green antennae and tiny leprechaun hats.

As the night wore on, Liverpudlians’ increasing astonishment that our group consisted of actual Irish people was matched only by our amazement at how everyone except (most) of the police were dressed as pretend Irish people. The emotions were as mixed as the drinks.

This was Ireland’s gift to the world, and the world had taken it, clutched it close, downed it with a shot of Jägermeister and thrown it back it up again.

It was further confirmation of the narrow terms in which the world sees Ireland each St Patrick’s Day – largely limited to as far as they can reach to get a pint, or the circumference of a swinging punch.

“You know,” I would explain, “Ireland is a land rich in culture beyond the limited stereotypes of leprechauns, flailing dancers, red hair and alcohol.

It’s a modern society, at the cutting edge of information technology, yet still rooted in an appreciation for language and song that . . .”

“Just say ‘turty-tree and a turd’.” “Turty-tree and a turd.” “Brilliant!”

Through popular cliches, people think they know Ireland. So here is a quiz for non-Irish for this St Patrick’s Festival. Send it to your pals abroad, hand it to tourists,
and see how many they get right.


What is the Gathering?
a) That part of a shirt straining at an Irish man’s belly so that it pulls open like stage curtains when he sits down.
b) Bystanders watching a fight.
c) What they’re calling your cousin’s wedding in Cork this summer so that they can get a grant to pay for it.
d) A scam.


It’s 2am during Galway Rag Week and you’re in a “Supermacs”. What exactly are you in?
a) A bar.
b) A nightclub.
c) A restaurant.
d) Way over your head


What is Ireland’s biggest export?
a) Stout.
b) Pharmaceuticals.
c) Milk.
d) Google’s tax liabilities


At the moment, the most popular political party in the State is:
a) Fianna Fáil.
b) Hold on, isn’t that the party who . . . ?
c) Over many many years . . . ?
d) Ultimately leading to catastrophic . . . ?
e) Really?!


In an Irish pub, how much can a “round” cost?
a) ¤10
b) ¤15
c) ¤20
d) Your reputation.
Irish names can be baffling to those unfamiliar with the
Irish language. Can you pronounce some of these popular first names for Irish babies?
a) Jack.
b) Emily.
c) Mason.
d) Kate.


You’re in a country village and there’s been a crime. Where are you most likely to find an Irish policeman?
a) The main street.
b) Australia.


Which of these is Ireland’s most wanted man?
a) The National Irish Bank robber.
b) The Russborough art thief.
c) Shergar’s kidnapper.
d) Bressie.


Which of the following is the greatest innovation in Irish industry in the past year?
a) Effective DNA testing of meat products.
b) The growth of indigenous tech start-ups.
c) Putting Tayto crisps into Cadbury’s chocolate.

When you hear The Corrs, what comes to mind?
a) A catchy fusion of trad and pop.
b) Three wonderful Irish sisters.
c) Excellent musicianship.
d) Nothing, because the Government and the EU have made you a pliable citizen, closed to the underlying conspiracy that governs the military-industrial complex.


What is the most popular venue for the Irish to spend Christmas Day at?
a) At home.
b) In their parents’ house.
c) At a friend’s house.
d) Bondi Beach.


Which of these is a legitimate Irish stereotype?
a) They drink too much.
b) They can’t be responsible for their own affairs.
c) They are lazy and unhealthy.
d) It is racist to suggest any of those and we will boycott your country until you apologise. Unless you’re Irish, in which case you’re grand.


shegarty@irishtimes.com
@shanehegarty