Finding Mrs Doyle

I’m always a bit cheered when people fit comfortably into stereotypes: as a student of social sciences it’s gratifying to know that for all the deconstruction of structuralist sociological explanations of recent years, sometimes bodies of people genuinely do share some characteristics. It should have come as no surprise really, that Irish people sound Irish, but apparently that’s a thing they do.

My new wife and I spent our honeymoon in County Kerry – although booked with the intention that it was a long way from anywhere and thus would make a good location to completely rest after the exertions of catering and organising a wedding ourselves, it turned out that Kerry is completely beautiful and we spent the week driving through mountain passes and looking at lakes, it was great. And everyone’s so nice! I made the schoolboy error of forgetting the paper part of my driving licence when booking a car and the nice young man in the Europcar office booked us a B&B, drove us there, picked us up in the morning and sorted us out. On the way, every single Irish-ism you can imagine bar “top of the morning”: I can’t rent you the car without the paper part, so I can’t. It’s your honeymoon? To be sure I didn’t know that so. And so on.

At the B&B they kept coming: you’ll have some tea so? Ah go on. Are you sure now? Have some cake with that. Go on. It was brilliant. The Kerry accent has some charming little quirks in it so that trying to explain it phonetically is not really that easy. I suggest you search out some clips from the Rose of Tralee festival this year, a surreal hybrid of an old-fashioned beauty contest and the glitz of the X Factor. The new presenter this year, the wonderful Daithi O Se is a Dingle man, the West Kerry gaeltacht where all signs are in Irish, and the broad, unrefined joy of being Irish breaks through his every speech. The man’s a new hero, whether it’s commenting on an entrant’s father’s fine set of teeth, or vamping Tom Wait’s ‘Martha‘ with the house band while another entrant was changing into dancing shoes.

Happily though, the nicest stereotype about the Irish was thoroughly reinforced. They’re lovely, friendly, charming folk. I love them, I’m going to sell up and move to the mountains there.

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