10 ways to be Grand – The Irish woman’s guide

‘The Secret’ will tell you that you can manifest whatever you want. Well, Irish women know that you can’t

“Irish women say they’re ‘Grand’ about a million times a day”.

Comedian Tara Flynn has taken this as the starting point for her new book: You're Grand – The Irishwoman's Secret Guide to Life.

And just in case you are,

a) under any illusions, or, b) a tourist, “Grand simply means the bare bones of fine.


In Ireland, the word 'grand' isn't confined to ballrooms, candelabras or horsey types: it's not elaborate, not highfalutin, just fine."

Put away your valet now, Downton Abbey it’s not.

"Irish women have been around for ages – some would say almost as long as Irish men," says Flynn. "We've learned a lot in that time, but, until now, we haven't shared it. Perhaps being shushed by priests/foreign invaders/the wind for too long has taken its toll. Life guides like The Secret will tell you that you can manifest whatever you want.

Well, Irish women know that you can’t.

“That said, whether things turn out good or bad – most likely bad – we know that what we can be is Grand.”

Being a man, however, is no barrier to squeezing the pips out of this book.

“There will be accusations that any book focused on women must be anti-men, and that men are awful and that we’re all locked in cupboards and that they did it,” writes an olive-branch wielding Flynn. “In fact, there’s nothing to suggest we can’t all be the best Irish women we can be, men included.”

So guys, feel free to join Irishwomen on this whistle stop tour of being grand.

10 WAYS TO BE GRAND: The Irishwoman’s guide by Tara Flynn

1 – Don’t be nice – Break Bold

Boldness is key to the “you’re Grand” state of mind. Bold means forgoing being good in favour of a bit of craic. Borrowing without asking is bold. Stealing is bad. Cheering for another county’s team because you fancy someone from Mayo is bold. Forgetting an important match – BAD.

2 – Baptism of fire

You’re here! Failte! You’re going to be cold and wet and there will almost definitely be some oppression. But, don’t worry, you’ll be having plenty of craic to make up for it. Now, let’s get you baptised immediately. Just lie back and enjoy the refreshing near drowning and attendant party, with special guest appearances from every member of your family, there to “wet the baby’s head”.

Get a good look at them while you can.

You will never see most of these people again.

3 – Childhood dreams

By now you are almost definitely a Catholic, even if you’re not. Be sure and make your First Holy Communion by the time you’re 7 so you get into the training of spending hundreds or even thousands of euro on an event.

4 – iMOM: Irish Mother or Mammy

Hurrah! You’ve finally achieved your destiny - now you’re a real Irishwoman. But if at this stage it turns out you haven’t become a mum, don’t worry. You can always be a teacher (almost a mammy), or an air hostess (the mammy of the skies). These jobs are seen to be a credit to Ireland.

5 – Retirement

You can never retire. This shit is for life.

6 – Older and bolder

Finally. You can be who you were always meant to be. You don’t have to go and live on a remote island to be more like Peig: YOU ALREADY LIVE ON A REMOTE ISLAND: Ireland. So sit back and let the nose hair kick in. This truly is the best phase for Irish women. Just make sure you talk about death every day. But then, you do that anyway.

7 – The Real Women of Ireland - a handy starter pack

Talk about the weather all the time, but never be equipped for what it’s actually doing at that moment. Drink tea: we can and will debunk certain stereotypes, but this one is true. There is nothing that can’t be made better with tea. Know very little about your family’s heritage: There’s just too much. It’ll weigh you down. Leave that to your foreign cousins.

8 – Grand role models

Who we’re meant to admire: The Blessed Virgin Mary, St Bridget, Peig, Dana.

Who we really admire: The Commitmentettes, The President Marys, The Dunnes Stores Strikers, Katie Taylor, The Condom Train Women, The Invisible Women, Camogie Players, the Ireland Women's Rugby Team, Anne Doyle, Sinead O'Connor, Panti Bliss, Female politicians who put up with late-night bum-pats, Mammy.

9 – Taking Compliments

Don’t. If you do, people will think you think you’re great and that would not be Grand. Remember: ‘tis far from most things you were reared. Compliments are one of those things. (Also bagels, avocados, underfloor heating and water features.)

10 – How to do Grand Sex

No matter how much you try and claim it only came in with Dallas, Irish people have been having sex for absolutely ages. Many of them women.

So how does an Irishwomen actually do “it”? Here are some tips…

When you do it, try not to enjoy it. Remember that sex is hard work, and possibly the very first day of your new life as a mother. Forever.

It must be done in a bed. With the lights out. Don’t be looking at each other, ye’d only enjoy it.

Never refer directly to sex. It’s riding, flaing or whatever you’re having yourself. If you do refer to S-E-X, whisper it, and make damn well sure you’re ashamed of yourself, young lady.

You're Grand – The Irishwoman's Secret Guide to Life is published by Hachette Books and is out on October 16th, which is, well, Grand.

Anthea McTeirnan

Anthea McTeirnan

Anthea McTeirnan is an Irish Times journalist