crazygirl boozed1

Really hilarious drunk girl I met while out in Dublin one night; the root of all that is good and evil in Ireland.

The other night I tuned into the magical hour of television programming that is Boozed Up Irish Abroad. As the title quite obviously reveals, the reality show follows a group of young Irish tourists who party their way through the nightclubs of Majorca, the Spanish destination popular with a variety of white-trash European holiday seekers. The program highlights the fighting, vomiting, blathering and sexual exploits of these young Irish as they see who can achieve liver failure and/or get arrested first. It’s a real gem of a show really, and gives even the worst American reality shows (Real Housewives, Tiaras and Toddlers, etc.) a run their money.

With the exception of a small group, it’s not exactly a positive or accurate portrayal of the Irish. The show got me thinking about what my notions of Ireland and Irish people were before I moved here, and if particular media portrayals gave me certain expectations of what I would find in this country. I suppose since my introduction to the Irish happened many years ago when I lived with a group of them (read about them in this post) back in San Francisco, I felt relatively familiar with the culture and attitudes of Ireland before coming here. So I had to go further back than that…did I have any preconceived ideas before I met them?

irish_spring Irish Spring 2

I do recall a popular television ad in the ‘80s-‘90s for a soap called Irish Spring. There were several ads but the one I remember took place at some sort of horse show and featured an Irish man and woman talking about the benefits of the soap. At one point the man uses a pocketknife to cut a slice of soap (this was standard in all the Irish Spring ads) revealing its green and white striping, which represented the two deodorant scents in Irish Spring. The tagline was, “Clean as a whistle!” and it was stated several times in a much-exaggerated Irish accent. It didn’t give me any specific impression of Irish people, other than that they were clean and relatively happy. Keep in mind I was about 8 years old when these ads were popular.


Another ad from that same era was for a cereal called Lucky Charms. It was a kids’ cereal that consisted of plain, unsweetened pebble-type bits and colorful marshmallow candies (basically we would pick out all the marshmallows and leave the healthy bits behind). An animated “Lucky the Leprechaun” would list off the marshmallow candies in the ads: Pink hearts, orange stars, yellow moons, green clovers, blue diamonds and purple horseshoes and claim that the kids in the ads were “… always after me Lucky Charms!” He’d devise some scheme to get away from them but in the end the kids would get the Lucky Charms. The tagline was, “They’re magically delicious!” The only impression it left on me was that Lucky the Leprechaun wasn’t that smart as he could never outfox the kids.

When I was interviewed recently by journalist Brian O’Connell for his story on foreign women’s perception of Irish men, he asked me if I had any preconceived ideas of what Irish men would be like based on movies, television, etc. I couldn’t think of any when he asked me, but now I recall American actor Chris O’Donnell in “Circle of Friends,” which in retrospect was probably a good representation of life in a small Irish village back in the 1950s but it didn’t make a strong impact as far as Irish men were concerned. I do remember enjoying the storyline where the hot guy was attracted to the “fat” girl (I put that in quotes as I didn’t think Minnie Driver was necessarily fat in the movie, just quite curvy). However “The Commitments,” which in my opinion is a near-perfect film, left me with the impression that Irish men are fond of the drink (which, so far I’ve found to be true), fond of women and not afraid to show it (again, true) and pepper everything they say with four-letter words (both the “F” and “C” varieties, and yes I’ve found this to be true with everyone here, not just the males).

But just as I hope the Irish don’t judge Americans on what’s portrayed of them in the media (Jersey Shore, anyone?), I certainly don’t believe that all, or even most Irish are anything like what is presented of them on television and movies. Then again it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing if real people similar to the cast of those Irish Spring ads, in all their chipper, freshly-scrubbed and attractive glory, actually existed here. I’ll let you know if I find them.