Being raised by Irish parents can be a memorable experience. It can leave a lifelong impression and teach you skills you might not ever need.
Strong values and traditions are often embedded within Irish families and can play a big part in how parents expect their children to behave.
After much contemplation about my upbringing and a cautious consultation with my own two little darlings, I compiled a list of 10 things people raised by Irish parents might relate to.
10. A colourful vocabulary
The Irish are renowned for having the gift of the gab, and Irish parents are no exception.
There is nothing quite like the tirade of words that can roll off the tongue of an Irish mammy when she is annoyed or an Irish dad when he is giving his account of a funny story.
Not to mention the rants over things that may not ever be mentioned in another house. “Turn off the big light!” “You’re NOT going OUT in THAT! You’ll catch your death.”
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph” are often brought into the conversation and if patience wears thin “all the saints” might get a mention. In addition to this, there is usually the odd “Feck” or even “F*ck” thrown in for good measure accompanied with either, “eejit, gobshite or amadán” to describe whoever is in the firing line.
9. A staple diet based on potatoes
The humble potato is embedded in Irish history and has played a huge part in Irish culture for centuries. So it is no surprise it continues to take centre stage at the dinner table to this day and can be served on the side of almost any dish.
Bacon and cabbage are never served without a big dollop of mash, and a roast dinner would not exist without the roasters.
Many Irish families will have any left over from Sunday fried up on Monday while a nice boiled potato with lashing of Kerry Gold is perfect alongside any meat or fish.
Sure even our very own moonshine, Poitin, is made from Irish potatoes. Fermented spuds are cooked in a small pot (pota) with malted barley to create the potent alcohol, although it is illegal now and can no longer be found in Ireland…anywhere…no way….never any about….at all!
8. The belief 7UP can cure anything
Vomiting, diarrhoea, the flu or the mother of all hangovers there is just one thing you will be given by an Irish parent and told to “sip that!” Oh yes folks …. 7UP! NOT lemonade. It has to be 7UP.
Most Irish mothers genuinely believe there is something in 7UP, a special ingredient or healing power perhaps, that can cure you of literally anything.
I have spent many a week in bed surviving on nothing but 7UP (with two Disprin dropped in if I had a temperature). Sometimes swapped for Lucozade once I showed signs of recovery … for the glucose!
7. Saint Patrick’s Day is a big deal
Most Irish parents love St. Patrick’s Day. The schools are closed, it’s a bank holiday weekend, the weather is usually on the turn, and the parade is on in town. It’s a great day of celebration and family time without any great expense.
Everyone is up for a drink, kids are dressed in green, and the country is alive with colour. The pubs are buzzing, and you can wear a hat shaped like a pint of Guinness or even a fake ginger beard and no-one bats an eyelid.
Stories are relayed to children about Ireland’s patron saint with particular pride taken in describing how he drove the snakes out of Ireland and sent them over to England.
6. There was always someone to light a candle for you
Pending exams, a job interview or a thirst to qualify for the next X Factor there was always a grandparent, aunt or neighbour more than happy to hot foot it to the church and light a candle for you.
Your parent would then take great pleasure in telling you, “Don’t worry, Nana lit a candle for you so you’ll be grand.” And if you were lucky enough to have a nun in the family sure you didn’t even need to study …. Everyone knows nuns have a direct line to the man above!
And if that didn’t work, you always had the miraculous medal pinned to your vest to fall back on.
5. They always had your back
Dealing with the wrath of an Irish parent is not always easy, but woe betide anyone else who upset you.
Teachers, other children, even employers would be torn to shreds should they treat you unfairly.
An Irish mammy has no problem speaking her mind to anyone deserving of her words. But don’t think this means you’re off the hook.
Get spotted looking smug about the whole affair, and you might get a clip round the ear on the way home.
4. Tea is the answer
Anyone who crosses the threshold of an Irish home must like tea. Parents up and down the Emerald Isle spend hours every year discussing kids, helping with homework and planning family trips over a hot pot of tea.
Being raised by Irish parents usually means you were at some stage taught how to make a “proper cup of tea.” This may vary slightly from house to house, but the general rules are often to make sure it’s strong, hot and Barry’s. Once you have nailed the perfect cup, you’re practically reared.
3. There is only one crisp
If you were raised by Irish parents, you will be familiar with Tayto. Tayto to an Irish person is not just a brand, it is all crisps. “Have we any Tayto?” “Will you have a bag of Tayto?” are questions often heard in an Irish household.
The option of different flavours will not usually be offered by an Irish parent, but you could be offered to eat them between two slices of bread. White Brennan’s sliced pan with real butter is arguably the only way to eat a Tayto sandwich.
2. The wooden spoon was always at the ready
If you got caught doing something naughty as a child of an Irish parent, there is a good chance you got a talking to. This could last anything from a few threatening words to an hour-long lecture if there was tea in the pot.
But at times an Irish parent might be pushed so far they reach for the dreaded wooden spoon. Very often just reaching for the weapon of choice was enough to send the child into apologetic over-drive with some folk even saying just the mention of the wooden spoon or a glance in its direction worked.
1. The obsession with heat
The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable. Cold winds and heavy rain are common which might explain why Irish parents are often obsessed with keeping warm. Thermal underwear, Aran sweaters and thick socks are staple pieces in most Irish wardrobes.
Bedtime was another key moment to take heed to Irish parental advice. Warming pyjamas by the fire or on the radiator before putting them on was the first step to a good nights sleep.
A hot mug of cocoa or Ovaltine was handed to you before bed with the electric blanket plugged in 10 minutes beforehand.
Flannelette was the preferred material for sheets and pyjamas while pure wool blankets given to your grandmother on her wedding day were draped over the end of the bed in case you got cold (at this stage you were struggling to breath!).
And finally the golden rule: NEVER go to bed with your hair wet!