Ireland means the world to me and I am passionate about the place but I have a serious problem with stereotypical images of the country and her people.
Oh there’s all the stuff about:
- Paddy the Irishman
- Irish Mammies
- Ireland and potatoes
- Drunken Irish
- Traffic jams in Ireland involving a few sheep on the road
- The ‘begorra’ Irish accent
- The Island of Saints and Scholars
- The ‘gift of the gab’
- The laid back ‘ah sure it’ll be alright on the night’ attitude of Irish people
I could go on and on about the stereotypes but let me just say that Ireland is full of diversity in terms of her people: their attitudes, personalities, backgrounds, social histories, aspirations, interests …..
Ireland has her shadowlands, like every other country, but she also has magnificence in all sorts of ways.
I suspect my sensitivity about the stereotypes is partly due to the facts that: firstly, my parents were of mixed religious marriage (thus giving me insight into different versions of our history and tradition); secondly, having lived in lots of different parts of Ireland; and thirdly, being a Sociologist by profession.
The complexity and diversity within Ireland is something that I love and cherish. I guess the only stereotype that is pretty much true is about the forty shades of green in the country.
When I chose Stepping Out as my theme words for 2015, I knew that I would have to include this very traditional Irish song fairly early on. I can’t but smile as I listen to it again as sums up so much of the stereotypes that are belted out and which still make the feet tap!