Filming for RA’s latest project, medieval road-movie Pilgrimage, is set to start today, and Mr A is due to head to Europe. Eventually. Is he going to film in Ireland? If so, it might be handy to give him a few pointers re. customs and language in Ireland, from one
familiar ex-pat to a nother temporary visitor. Yes, that’s necessary. You might think that Ireland – with a history as Britain’s “first colony” and as the neighbouring isle – is an extension of home to Britons. In many ways it is similar – the two countries share the skeleton of a language, have been bound together by the exchange of emigrants and immigrants, as well as culture and art. Houses look similar, they both have a weakness for fish and chips, and produce TDH actors (keywords Armitage and Turner)… And yet little Ireland, a 4.5 million strong island on the Western fringe of Europe, reacts very sensitively to Britons who do not understand its quirks, differences and idiosyncracies of language and culture. So just to make sure quintessential middle-England product Armitage doesn’t put his foot in, I have decided to put together a few “dos and don’ts” for him. And for you, should you ever have the opportunity to visit this island (hello Helen, huhu cRAmerry and Silverbluelining *waves*)…
Disclaimer: My recommendations are based on my own observations of living in my beloved, adopted home for the past 15.5 years. No offense intended. All opinions are purely personal and may not reflect the experience of others.
Language is top of the list in my Ireland crash course – after all it is something that Mr A is not only very eloquent with and conscious of, himself, but it is the prime tool of communication when he will be receiving instructions on set and interacting with crew and fellow actors. A few pitfalls to avoid:
1. Don’t break into Shakespearean English if you encounter what sounds like old-fashioned English. Hiberno-English distinguishes the second person plural with separate words. Addressing two people directly as in “Where have you been?” takes the shape of “Where have ye been?” No need to counter with “Killing swine!”
2. Don’t smirk at overhearing Irishisms such as “I am after taking a photo of him” (= I have just photographed him), and the reflection and duplication for emphasis in “OMG, that is himself in leather, so it is” (= It is
Richard him wearing leathers). It’s all down to the Gaelic influence (and possibly the presence of himself, to be sure).
3. Don’t mimic the unnecessary usage of the word “sure” as in “Ah feck it, sure he’s grand” (=he’s ok) and “Sure, Richard’s tolerable” (= he’s the hottest piece of actor’s ass I have ever seen).
4. Don’t roll a Euro note if someone asks you “Are you having any crack?” Crack refers to craic, Irish for “fun”. Just remember the craic is always mighty in Ireland.
5. Don’t attempt Irishisms yourself. You make yourself look like a feckin’ eejit if you do so, big feckin’ unmistakable Brit that you are, so.
5.1 Don’t get offended at being called a feckin’ eejit. It’s a term of endearment, used for tenderly-regarded, mildly-tolerated friends that are deemed harmless.
5.2. Mind you, that depends on the tone it is said in. If in doubt: Just tell them to “feck off”. But don’t pronounce the retort with a U instead of an E in the f-word.
The Irish are a very open, easy-to-talk-to people. They like socializing, and the prime spot for doing so is the local pub. Here are a few dos:
1. Drink the local tipple. Yes, even if you prefer Pinot Noir. At least make it a “glass” of Smithwicks if can’t stand the velvety black stuff (aka Guinness). Oh, and Smithwicks is pronounced “Smith-icks”. If you pronounce the “w”, they’ll think you are an eejit *ggg*.
2. Take part in small talk. Top conversation opener: the weather. Sentences like “ah, sure, it was only a soft day today” (describing the kind of lighter-than-light drizzle that never ends and drenches through three layers of outdoor clothing) and “damn, it’s much too cold for April” will bring you clout.
2.1 Pepper your conversation with plenty of profanities. And mention your audience’s names often in the conversation to soften the blow.
3. Have a couple of English folk songs at the ready. After a couple of drinks, the Irish like to break into a sing-song – and outsiders are expected to join in. Refusals result in being thought an eejit. Note: “Love in an elevator” doesn’t count!
4. In the environment of the pub, round-systems are in operations. If you join a group late, you say hello at the table, enquiring whether anyone is in need of a drink before you proceed to the bar and order yours and everybody else’s drinks. No “sitting this one out”! Instead, practice the Irish way of saying “cheers”: sláinte, pronounced /slawn-tcha/. Means “to your health”.
5. Last orders are obligatory even if your glass is still full! (If you are lucky, it’s not your round but someone else’s.) No leaving the pub before the barman asks you whether you have no home to go to!
General Helpful Observations and Recommendations
The Irish are not the least impressed with celebrity or fame. In fact they are quite cheeky when it comes to famous people. But for the most part they will happily ignore your status as a celebrity. Sure people might recognize you and say hello, or even gently take the
piss mickey out of you, but they do not stalk you. Should you nonetheless feel the need to blend in I know, it’s hard for you to blend in – you’re TDH this is what you do (not) do in public:
1. Under no circumstance wear anything green. Only tourists do that! Unless it is an FAI (Football Association of Ireland) t-shirt.
1.1 Since it is already April, you should actually wear shorts and t-shirts – it’s practically summer here! 18 degrees is *hot*. Coats are for wimps. Invest in practical wear that has double functionality (see illustration right).
2. Do not form an orderly queue at the check-out/bus-stop/bar. Ireland is more of the elbow variety when it comes to lining up.
In the unlikely event of you using public transport, thank the bus driver while alighting with a simple “Thank you”. (“Luv” after the thank you optional in case of female driver.)
4. If hiking or walking in rural areas, greet every on-coming walker with a cheerful “hello, great day for a walk, isn’t it?” Applies to *all* weather! But not to walks in urban areas. Note: Shortcuts in Ireland are generally the longest distance between two points. Don’t trust any map. Trudge across the bog. That’s safer.
5. There’s no bad weather. There is only the wrong clothing. Umbrellas are for pussies. Wax jackets are for stuck-up, pretentious, fox-hunting West-Brits. Wellies are for music festivals. Hoodies, hats and mittens permitted. (Shorts rule still applies, see 1.1)
Now, that’s not difficult, is it? Ireland is a beautiful country. It will remind you of NZ in places (as the flurry of Instagram images by co-stars Tom Holland and Stanley Weber may already have hinted at) – rough beauty. Same can be said about its people. Rough, but
beautiful lovely. Easy-going, unpretentious, relaxed, ready to chat but equally ready to leave you in peace. I hope your time here will be a good one. May the road rise to meet you, as they say – and may the sun always shine while you are here, too. Fáilte! Ireland welcomes you.
PS: In case I didn’t sell Ireland well enough, here’s a look at what awaits you on your locations along the Wild Atlantic Way: