The most obvious trait, or should I say, the most prominent characteristic of an Irishman/ -woman is their absolutely delicious wit. It shines through everything and anything that is done in the country. Yet, many times the foreigners, at first, do not see it neither feel it. The reason being that the Irish do not announce before the crac that this is it! One has to figure it out himself/herself. Then it opens up into a hearty cackle ringing in the air.
I place and have always placed a great value for the sense of humour in persons since childhood so to me it is an added bonus to be in a situation of a howling comedy with all its multiple sides of tragedy and comedy to it. The bitter-sweet of life. The life is a combination of the two in varied doses and degrees. Sometimes more of the bitter = sadness; other times more of the sweet = gladness. Whichever way it may be, the two sides are there to balance each other out.
Nearly all of the students that I had a close contact with were at first of the opinion that there is no humour in Ireland!? What? No humour! One thing that there is, most certainly, is the HUMOUR! As astonishing as this sounds it was the norm and the rule with them until I pointed out and said that ‘listen carefully, the jokes are not advertised before being told!’ The basic language skills do not grant one the insider know-how of the verbal acrobatics of the Irish humour but one really has to be ‘in’ in it in order to fully appreciate the gymnastics! Once ‘in’ – well, there is no end to it.
The Irish are quick as a flash to invent brilliant nicknames and the like. There is a statue in a street in Dublin called ‘The Molly Malone’ of the famous ballad. Her nickname is ‘The Tart with the Cart’ – because the poor girl has a rather too low-cut outfit on her! She is the one with the ‘cockles and mussels…’
There was prior to the Spike another statue on that spot called ‘Anna Livia‘ – another name for the River Liffey. Her less flattering nickname was: ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ as she was sitting there with all the water pouring over her in the turrents and streams!
Then that ‘jacuzzi’ was removed and another monument was put in its place:The Millenium Spike at an enormous cost to the nation. At first as the pieces of it were assembled bit by bit, the names the thing was called were an absolute howl. Names like: ‘The Stump in the Dump’ – because of the general state of the O’Connell Street – that is the main street of Dublin where it is located. Then later on it became: ‘The Stiletto in the Ghetto’!
The humour is the spice of life and a great medicine in times of great joy and at all times. I read in a newspaper that the Finns used to laugh for 17 minutes a day before but nowadays only for a few short spurts. (I will put the exact time here when I find the article in my huge collection of bits and pieces of them!) – Yes the exact time is these days just a meagre 6 minutes a day. – I am not aware if there has been a similiar survey of the Irish nation but it, for sure, would be very interesting if there was…
I see the sense of humour as a parachute that makes the ‘landing’ softer in all the turns and trials of the life and the living. (My very own saying, by the way.)
Tis for now until the next posting. Riihele xx.
This fabulous photograph was taken by a couple of friends of the River Liffey in Dublin last autumn.