Archive for April, 2010

Perhaps the only beverage the Irish drink more often than beer is hot tea. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack break, there will certainly be a teapot filled with the caffeinated elixir nearby.

It’s also what you offer to anyone and everyone when they visit. I think I’ve heard the question, “Would you like a cup of tea?” about a half-million times since I arrived here a month ago. The time of day doesn’t matter; you always ask if your visitors want tea. I’ve also noticed that everyone here has a cabinet (called a “press” here) with dedicated space for a variety of biscuits and cakes that go with tea, and that a good host will typically bring out a plate of sweets for guests. Back home in Los Angeles, I hardly ever kept cookies or cakes in the house, but here I always make sure I have at least two kinds of GOOD biscuits on hand. I suspect there is a hierarchy of biscuits and that if I serve the store-brand kind that’s always on sale, this would be considered a big faux pas. Of course being new here, I have little clue as to what makes a good biscuit so I find myself loitering in front of the cookie aisle at Tesco desperately trying to pick ones that won’t disappoint my friends. My tactic has been to go for the one with the prettiest box, and it hasn’t failed me yet.


Your little bed!

Welcome to the world, Little Shamrock (I don’t know your name yet, sorry!). I was just thinking today that we are both new to this place that is now your home. I guess the only major difference is that you’ve been here for about an hour, and I’ve been here a month today. So, let me just say from experience that you are a very lucky little baby to be born Irish in Ireland, because – as I have witnessed myself – you lot are quite special.

I wonder what kind of little Irish boy you will grow into; right now you are just a newborn and it’s overwhelming to think of all the different ways you’ll grow and change over the years. Will your hair be blonde, like your mother’s? Or dark brown like your daddy’s? Maybe you’ll develop a love of cars, just like your daddy (though I’m not sure how much more car stuff your mom can handle!), or perhaps you’ll cultivate a taste for sweets like your mammy. You’ll probably earn a nickname or two over the next several years…your mom used to call everyone “Chicken” as a term of endearment, and I’m willing to bet she’ll be calling you all sorts of cute names. She’s really sweet and motherly like that.


A typical Saturday  night

There’s a reason why the Irish are known for drinking, and it’s because they do, in fact, LOVE to drink alcohol. To say they work hard at earning this world renowned reputation would be the understatement of a lifetime.

Back in Los Angeles, it was typical for my friends and me to go to a bar, have a couple of drinks, and then call it a night. Sure, we would go a bit nuts occasionally, perhaps once every couple of weeks (more during the holiday season). But because in LA you have to drive everywhere, or pay a ridiculous sum for a taxi, we’d often keep it relatively quiet.  

Here, drinking is a commitment and one that is taken very seriously. Most of my friends do not just go out for a few drinks, they go all out. When planning an outing, a typical conversation goes like this:

Me: “So who’s all going?”

Friend: “Well, me and Aoife, who’s drinking cos she’s off work tomorrow. Earnan and Bushman have a match tomorrow so they won’t come. Roisin’s off the drink for Lent. Sinead can drive. I think I’ll be drinking as well since I can have a lie-in tomorrow.”