10 ways you know you’re in rural Ireland
All this talk of ploughing got us thinking about how unique rural Ireland is
Tractors on main street: rural Ireland - to know it is to love it.
Those of you who left the big smoke and went to the Ploughing Championships will know that things change when you leave Ireland’s big cities, particularly Dublin. Here are 10 ways you know you are in the sticks:
Waving: everyone waves at you in rural Ireland. Complete strangers are also likely to say hello to you as you pass them on the street, so don’t be surprised when it happens. The Dublin habit of staring straight ahead as you walk past a fellow human on an empty street does not apply outside the capital. As you drive along an Irish country road make sure to keep your hand at the top of the steering wheel as you will need to flick your finger up quickly as you pass other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, sheep etc. Even if you don’t know them. Young men driving vans use “the wave” which is particular to their sort. It is where they hold up the back of their hand as if some awful grease were dripping off the end of their fingers. It means “hello”.
Garth Brooks fans: Like rats in the city, you are never more than a metre from a Garth Brooks fan in rural Ireland. Many of them cut their teeth with Bon Jovi in the 80s and 90s, probably wore mullet hair cuts and biker jackets with tassels. You. Know. Who. You. Are.
Outright contempt for the East, or even the Easht: People in many parts of rural Ireland refer to “Dublin” when they actually mean the area starting in Greystones and running right up to Dundalk. “How are things up in Dublin?” they will ask people from Navan, Wicklow, Virginia and Clane. They really mean is “hey you east coast scum, make way for a real Irish man”.
Tractors parked randomly on main streets, outside the local Centra and outside Mass on a Sunday.
Town drunk: every Irish town has at least one key individual who is well known to gardaí and regular shoppers alike. Most people know his or her name and every so often they get a ticking off by the local judge for disorderly conduct. The town drunk is a sad fact of life in many Irish towns and villages.
The smell of turf during the winter creeps up your nose as soon as you enter the Irish countryside. Even in the summer some elderly people light a turf fire regardless of outside temperature. The smell or turf mixed with rain mixed with alcohol wafting from a pub on Main Street. Ah, where would you get it?
Potholes: If you are unfortunate enough not to live in the constituency of a Government minister, avoiding potholes and/or getting your buckled car wheels fixed is part of your everyday rural Irish life. If you live in a particular area for long enough you will learn where the holes are so you can make the correct swerve every day.
Driving when you are a teenager: Dubliners are regularly heard complaining about lengthy 20-minute commutes and the terrible walk to the nearest bus or Luas service. Try getting to the nearest centre of civilisation from the end of a boreen in Co Leitrim before getting the bus to the big smoke for work. Then do it all again at 5.30pm. The lack of public transport requires people in rural Ireland to learn to drive at a young age so that they are ready to comply with the law once they turn 17.
People say they are going “into town” for the “messages” referring to a shopping trip to the nearest point of civilisation where there is likely to be a large German retailer or five. In Dublin people also refer to going “into town”, even though it’s a city, which probably points up the fact that most Dubs are really just a generation or two away from being a big bogger.