Being Irish abroad is great in a lot of ways. Most countries love us for our accents and colourful phrases. However, there are some words that haunt us as we travel around the world. Now, I’m not saying we can’t laugh at ourselves, but we’re a bit sick of hearing this stuff. I’m sure there’s some I’ve missed on this list, but these are the ones that I’ve encountered most frequently while abroad.
Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say to Irish People
1)- Any sentence that has “diddly ay” or “fiddly dee” in it.
Where did that even come from? Nobody sounds like that….. well….. maybe in like, the deepest darkest depths of Kerry or something. But it’s a VERY small minority.
2)- Oh you’re from Ireland, do you know my friend Mary?
Ireland may be a pretty small country but there’s still millions of us! So no I do NOT know Mary….oh, wait, Mary Kelly? From Tallaght? For feck’s sake….. I went to school with her.
3)- But you HAVE to drink, you’re Irish.
This is a massive issue when living abroad. I felt SO much pressure to drink when I lived in the UK and New Zealand. Everybody assumes you’re a seasoned drinker, border-line alcoholic. If you say you don’t feel like drinking you’ll be ridiculed with shouts of “I thought you were Irish”. Sorry lads, but my sense of identity doesn’t depend on my liver function (not anymore anyway). Give it a rest.
4)- Well, if you’re ever short of money you can tarmac a drive.
Get out of my life and over the edge of a cliff, please and thank you. All Irish people do not tarmac drives. Not even all Irish traveller folk tarmac drives. You are not funny. To be fair though, I did see someone tarmacking a drive the other day….
5)- Potatoes said in a ridiculous accent.
This is not an acceptable way to greet any Irish acquaintance or friend. Due to historic events it’s only natural that we are particularly fond of the potato. You know the phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”? Well, we lived that, with potatoes. It is a big part of our culture. Besides, why the feck would anybody not love potatoes?
Edit: Potatoes are also NOT an appropriate GIFT for Irish people. You may think you’re funny, and we may laugh at the time, but be advised that we really think you’re a bit of a prick. And then we’ll use them for dinner anyway, so joke’s on you!
6)- Anything about leprechauns.
Leprechauns are not real. However, for the sake of tourism we will accept these jokes to an extent. We understand that those enterprising gents selling leprechaun catching nets to impressible tourists need to make a living. So, we will laugh at your unoriginal leprechaun joke and pretend that you’re funny every so often, because we’re good Irish citizens.
7)- When people call the Republic of Ireland, “Southern Ireland”.
Nope, no, no no no no no no NO! Northern Ireland is called Northern Ireland because it is literally the North part of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is THE REST of Ireland (East, west AND SOUTH, plus Donegal). When you say Southern Ireland, we think Cork or Waterford. It’s the REPUBLIC of Ireland, please and thank you.
8)- Anything about car-bombs and the IRA.
The past is the past. Some people did some crazy stuff and we may or may not be related to them. And really, do you want to annoy people with those kinds of skills and connections?;)
9) – Catholic jokes.
Yeahhh, we know, Ireland is a pretty Catholic country. But times they are a changing; I’m not religious, I don’t go to mass, I’m not one of a million children, gay marriage is legal. And really, it’s not OK to make religion jokes. If you were making Islam jokes I doubt you’d expect the person at the other end to laugh. One every so often we can deal with, but if it’s your go to joke, find a new one.
10) – Oh you’re Irish?? I’m Irish too!
*loses eyesight from the most extreme of eye rolls*
This phrase is usually uttered by someone who is clearly American. I’ve genuinely had someone say they were Irish because they were born on St.Patrick’s Day. It is LOVELY that people love Ireland so much that they feel like they belong here. But honestly, it’s best to say something like, “my dad is from Ireland”, or “My parents are from Cork”, etc. “I’m Irish too”, will generally be met with a polite grimace and an insincere “Oh really?”.
EDIT – READER ADDITIONS
11) – Say thirthy three and a third!
Yes, I do have an Irish accent, but contrary to popular believe most of us can in fact pronounce “th”. I had a man lose his mind once when I told him his purchase came to 3.33 in a shop before. I was not impressed. (submitted by Ciara K)
12) – Top of the morning to you.
Never in my life have I heard an actual Irish person use this phrase. Please stop saying this to us. You sound ridiculous. Also, we don’t really know what the appropriate response is to this, other than knocking you out McGregor style. (submitted by Conor Kelly, on the front line, living in the UK)
13) – Where’s me Lucky Charms!
We don’t even eat that cereal (mostly). And what exactly are lucky charms? Like I said above in point number 6, enough of the leprechaun crap. (submitted by Aidan Baird, and Irish man in Canada)
Now, I’m not saying you can’t make an odd joke at our expense, us Irish usually have a great sense of humour. However, just dial it back a notch, we’ve heard them all before – A LOT. With all this ridiculous crap you keep saying to us it’s no wonder that we need a drink.
If you liked this post check out my post on 50 Irish Phrases That Don’t Translate.
Did I miss anything off this list?
Let me know in the comments!