Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Póg mo thóin!

Last year I posted a piece that was semi-optimistic about the situation in Northern Ireland titled "26 + 6 = 1" (read here).

What a difference a year makes.

Two British Soldiers were murdered Saturday March 7th and a police officer, Stephen Carroll, was shot down March 9th by two separate splinter groups of the supposedly disarmed IRA (read here). People of the "north" need to brace themselves for a long summer of curfews, harassment and violence. Although people on both sides are condemning the violence this was bound to happen. As long as an occupying force continues to occupy the animosity never leaves (lesson to US: get out of Iraq ASAP). No one living on the Island of Ireland, Catholic or Protestant, Unionist or Republican thought the peace would be lasting.

There is a line in the movie "The Departed" where Matt Damon's character turns to his girlfriend when discussing their relationship and says "If we're not going to make it it'll have to be you that gets out. I'm fucking Irish, I'll deal with something being wrong the rest of my life". This sums up the Irish psyche as much as any quote I've ever heard. There is a somber, resignation about the human condition that is ingrained in every person boastful of their Irish heritage. If it wasn't an Irishman that came up with the saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same" I'd be genuinely shocked.

How do the Irish deal with their jaded and skeptical outlook on life? Living life to its fullest, living life like there's no tomorrow and by finding humor in the darkest of situations. "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die" is the mantra many Irish live by.

My wife sent me this joke today.

*An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub
and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but
serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.*

*An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more.
This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks
three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering
about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.*

*Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the
town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you
always order three beers?"*

*"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and
one went to America, and the other to Australia . We promised each other
that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of
keeping up the family bond."*

*The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon
the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride
to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch
him drink.*

*Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender
pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening.
He orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered
for the soul of one of the brothers.*

*The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first
of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You
know-the two beers and all"*

*The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear
that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have
decided to give up drinking for Lent."*

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!


Suldog said...

In return, I give you this one...

Mick, from Dublin, appeared on 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' and towards the end of the program had already won 500,000 pounds.

You've done very well so far,' said, Chris Tarrant, the show's presenter, 'but for a million pounds you've only got one lifeline left--phone a friend. Everything is riding on this question......will you go for it?'

'Sure,' said Mick. 'I'll have a go!' 'Which of the following birds does NOT build its own nest?'
A: Sparrow
B: Thrush
C: Magpie
D: Cuckoo

I haven't got a clue,' said Mick, 'so I'll use me last lifeline and phone me friend Paddy back home in Dublin'. Mick called up his mate, and told him the circumstances and repeated the question to him.

'Fookin hell, Mick!' cried Paddy. 'Dat's simple......it's a cuckoo.'

'Are you sure?'

'I'm fookin sure.' Mick hung up the phone and told Chris, 'I'll go wit Cuckoo as me answer.' 'Is that your final answer?' asked Chris. 'Dat it is, Sir.'

There was a long, long pause, then the presenter screamed, 'Cuckoo is the correct answer! Mick, you've won 1 million pounds!'

The next night, Mick invited Paddy to their local pub to buy him a drink.

'Tell me, Paddy? How in Heaven's name did you know it was da Cuckoo that doesn't build its own nest?

'Because he lives in a Fookin clock!'

Kevin Smith said...

If you have IFC, look for the Henry Rollins in Northern Ireland piece. It offers some fascinating perspective on the Troubles and parallels to Iraq. He talks to a number of different people there including ex-IRA, Protestants, and members of the current Parlaiment there. Really a great program (and I have to admit to having something of a jaundiced eye to the peace process - my Catholic grandmother came over from County Derry back in 1922 and I still have a ton of cousins back there in the North).

On a lighter note...

An Irishman, an Brit, and a Scott are stranded on a deserted island. After some time there, living like Robinson Carusoe, the three stumble upon an old, dusty brass oil lamp.

They pick it up and polish it off releasing the genie that lives inside.

The genie surveys the situation, eying the three scraggly men. "As the three of you released me, and I may only grant three wishes," explained the Genie, "I shall grant each of you one wish."

The three men thought long and hard about their wishes. The Scotsman spoke first - "Och, I wish to be home in me castle off the moors, sitting by a roaring fire with a nice glass of single malt scotch in me hand."

Boom! And the Scotsman was back home sitting in his castle as he asked.

Next, the Brit said, "I wish I was back in the corner pub with a pint in hand and throwing darts with my mates."

Boom! The Brit found himself in his neighborhood pub, laughing and drinking with his buddies like he asked.

The Genie turned to the Irishman. "And you?"

The Irishman thought long and hard about the question, day turning to night, and then back into day again before he answered.

"Yeh know," he said, "I think I miss me two friends. I wish I had 'em back."

Boom! Boom!

David Sullivan said...

I've checked out the Rollin's thing a few times...I loved it...good jokes, both...

Kevin Smith said...

Incidentally, your header is the first Gaelic I ever learned, and I learned it as a child due to my grandmother. I must have been about nine or ten when my grandmother and my father jointly told me the story of the "Irish Blessing."

As they told it, when my dad, Lawrence Smith, was in maybe third grade at West Catholic in Philadelphia, he was under the tutelage of an off-the-boat Irish nun by the name of Sister Mary Lawrence.

My father, feeling that Sister Mary Lawrence was picking on him went home to bemoan his horrible fate to his mother (remember, Northern Irish, came over at the age of 16 right after the Irish Revolution). My less than sympathetic grandmother (though she acted quite concerned), told her son that she had a simple solution - "Give her the Irish Blessing - Pog mo thoin - and you'll never have a problem with her again."

My then young and naive father didn't think to ask just what these words meant, and promptly filed them away for use.

The very next day he encountered issues with Sister Mary Lawrence, at which time he piped up with a very pious, "sister, pog mo thoin."

The nun, as he put it, beat him near to death. He went home bawling.

My grandmother, evidently was near tears she was laughing so hard as she wasn't expecting such a quick return on her joke. Needless to say, my father stopped complaining about his teacher.

David Sullivan said...

Ha, ha Kev!!

Your Gram sounds like a great woman....thats awesome.

Andraste said...

I think I'll be using that Lent joke very soon.

Copyright to Mrs. Sully!