Tag Archives: ireland

Come learn to talk like the Irish!

irish accent gum front1024x577Are you ready for St. Patrick’s Day? In honor of my Irish heroine from Saints & Spies, Molly Malone, I’m visiting three libraries in Utah for a fun night (or afternoon) of Irish language, culture, food and possibly even dance!

Kissin’ the Blarney Stone: Talk like the Irish!

Join me for a fun time and celebrate your Irish heritage (or lack thereof!) by learning about Irish English, slang and culture today. The craic will be rapid! There may be treats and even dancing!

March 16, 2016
1 PM
March 16, 2016
7 PM
March 17, 2016
7 PM
Millcreek Center Library
2266 E Evergreen Ave
East Millcreek, Utah
Pleasant Grove City Library
30 East Center
Pleasant Grove, Utah
American Fork Public Library
64 S 100 E
American Fork, Utah
Children’s library

Come join me!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I know it’s a little early

St. Patrick’s Day is probably my favorite pointless holiday of the year! There are two basic reasons for this—and neither of them are my rich Irish heritage. (Incidentally, I do have Irish heritage, but considering those people died in the US a century before I was born, I don’t really have a strong attachment to the culture from them.)

No, my real reasons are at least half ridiculous:

1.) When I was in college, I spent Thanksgivings with my aunt. Randomly one year when we got up silly early for Black Friday, we began speaking in an Irish accent. These things only make sense before 5 AM.

2.) My first novel, due out next year, features a character from Ireland. I just finished a round of edits on the sequel, which features even more characters from Ireland (6!), so I’m up to my neck in Irish accents and slang and culture. I’ve spent approximately 1,000,000 hours studying it 😉 .

So to celebrate, I’m going to share a little “true” Irishness with you.

Eight Myths about Irish Culture and St. Patrick’s Day Dispelled—complete with tips on brushing up your Irish accent and how best to celebrate this weekend!

Irish Potato Candy—real!

Complete with recipe!

Irish Flag Apron—kinda kitschy, but real!

Complete with instructions—and it only cost me $5!

Photos all by me! Okay, and my husband.

St Patrick’s Day Blogfest!

Last year for St. Patrick’s Day, we dispelled some Irish myths. I learned a lot about modern Irish culture as I wrote about Irish characters. Once, they even got to be the villains—and that’s what we get to see today as part of The St. Patrick’s Day Blogfest hosted by Colene and Alexia!

In this (never ever edited and heavily compressed) excerpt, Mark is trying to find the bomb Grace and Pearse have planted on a St. Patrick’s Day parade float the night before the parade. Mark has been investigating them separately for a while, using different cover IDs with each of them (one of which is Southern).

That’s about to come back to bite him.

They could kill hundreds of people tomorrow. Thousands.

On the second row of parade floats, Mark spotted a pile of clutter in the pristine warehouse. If he found the bomb, the bomb squad could be here by the time he finished his sweep. It’d take two minutes to check. It was only a small risk.

He jogged to the toolbox and tools. They were definitely coming back. He glanced at the float. Along the bottom edge, clothespins held a few inches of long green fringe around a small, white translucent plastic cube.

They’d started installing it. Mark jammed his gun into his waistband, grabbed a flashlight from the toolbox and slid beneath the float. The wires hung there, exposed. He could end it now.

He crept from under the float, but before he moved, Mark heard a gasp behind him. He drew his gun, but a flashlight blinded him.

“Jason?” Grace.

A less experienced operative would’ve broken cover and confessed all. A better operative would play his cover even harder. “Grace, what are you doin here?”

“I should be askin’ you the same thing.”

“What’s this, then?” A man’s voice rang out behind him—Irish accent, familiar.

Pearse? Mark turned around and was again blinded by a flashlight.

“Jimmy?” Definitely Pearse.

“Now, y’all, let’s don’t go jumpin—” A blow to the back of his head cut Mark off mid-sentence.

And it gets worse. Hooray!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St Patrick’s Day myths

I have to confess: secretly, I have Irish ancestry.

Okay, it’s not that big a secret. But for some reason, it’s not that big a deal, either—I also have Danish, German, French, English, Ulster Scots and other ancestry, and I don’t get a parade for that—and I also recognize that being (technically) Irish-American doesn’t mean I know jack squat about Ireland and its culture today.

Or, I didn’t until I wrote a book with an Irish protagonist. And no, not Irish like you and I are Irish—born-and-raised-in-Ireland-until-adulthood Irish. And surprisingly, although we allegedly speak the same language, that entailed the same amount of research as any other character from another culture might.

So here’s some of what I learned—a few St. Patrick’s Day myths for you.

Myth: St. Patrick’s is the quintessential Irish holiday

Well, St. Patrick is a pivotal figure in Irish Catholic history, but not a whole lot is known for certain about him. He was a Briton taken into slavery in Ireland, escaped after six years and returned to Britain, then entered the Catholic church and returned to Ireland. He is the most famous of three patron saints of Ireland (although technically he’s never been canonized by a pope). Legend says he banished snakes from Ireland and used the shamrock to teach the concept of the Trinity.

March 17th is his feast day and has been celebrated as a day of holy obligation (and a day off from Lent) in Ireland for centuries. However, the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston (1737—the first parade in Ireland was nearly two hundred years later, after dozens of American cities had established parades of their own). St. Patrick’s Day is largely a holiday celebrated by the Irish Diaspora—people of Irish descent not living in Ireland. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s that Ireland began capitalizing on the tourism possibilities of the “traditional Irish holiday.”

Myth: Corned beef is the traditional Irish meal

Good news if you don’t care for the stuff: corned beef isn’t a traditional Irish meal. However, if you like it, the reason corned beef didn’t catch on in Ireland is doubly depressing: most Irish people couldn’t afford beef.

The tradition, like that of St. Patrick’s Day, is largely Irish-American: once they came to America, Irish people could afford beef and prepared it as they would have their cheaper meats back home. (I have no idea how people too poor to afford beef bought passage to America—details, details.)

A more traditional Irish meal would feature uncured bacon (Canadian bacon)—but do we really care?

Myth: In Ireland, everyone speaks “Gaelic.”

In Ireland, the vast majority of people call the traditional language “Irish.” While everyone in the Republic is required to learn Irish in school, few people actually speak it outside of school. (Think about it—when’s the last time you used your high school French? How good is it?)

There are a couple areas in Ireland where Irish is the native language: a few areas mostly on the west coast called the Gaeltacht (gale-tacht, with a ch like in Bach or loch). Population: 91,000, or about 2% of Ireland’s 4M+ people.

A fun fact: the Irish police force, the Garda Síochána (guard-a she-chòn-uh), requires at least a passing level of Irish proficiency for prospective officers (though they reassure applicants that it’s really not that big a deal).

Myth: Nice accent—are you from Scotland or running for the next Lucky Charms mascot?

Good try. You got one of the British Isles. Now, here are your study materials: Father Ted. Ballykissangel.

A couple hints: saying “I’m oyrish” means you’re probably not, “dinna, canna,” etc. and trilled r’s are waaay more common in Scotland that Ireland (though if you look really hard, you can find Irish accents that have one of those features, but not all).

(How do you get it right? The easiest way is to pick a specific place in Ireland for your character and find recordings of someone from there, or vice versa. And unless your character lived in Ireland past age 8 or so—even if their entire extended family is Irish—they probably have an American/Australian/Canadian/wherever they’re living accent. Linguistic phenomenon.)

Myth: Okay, then, Irish people speak English like the rest of us.

Uhhh yeah. They use many of the same words, but . . . well, let’s see if you can tell what this means:

“Did you hear that the scrubber and the wagon were plastered last night and ended up in a mill? It was deadly!”
—from The Feckin’ Book of Everything Irish

Oh, you did know that meant the woman of low sophistication and morals and the unattractive woman were drunk last night and ended up in a fight (it was awesome!)? That’s a lot of cheek, ya cute hoor—have you the knees to go with it?

Myth: The kilt is the best way to show off your Irish heritage

Your knees, yes. Your Irish heritage, not so much. In Ireland, you’re most likely to see kilts on pipers. Really, the kilt is a Scottish tradition (and even then, the length of that tradition is disputed). Although there has been a bit of a movement to adopt it as Gaelic national dress (and what have you), the Irish kilt is mostly a phenomenon celebrated outside of Ireland.

(And in case you’re wondering, it’s not like everybody in Scotland’s wearing one, either. During the two years my husband lived there, he’d see someone about town in a kilt perhaps weekly.)

Myth: Erin go bragh is a Gaelic Irish phrase that means . . . uh . . .

Erin go bragh is the Anglicized version of . . . well, Irish speakers aren’t totally sure, but most seem to think it came from the Irish Éire go Brách, which literally means Ireland until eternity.

And, once again, it’s not that popular in Ireland. Sorry. It was used as a slogan a few centuries ago—is that better?

Myth: there’s nothing that’s really Irish about all this celebrating, is there?

Absolutely! In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to celebrate the way Irish culture has adapted during the Irish diaspora—because Ireland’s greatest export is its people.

And the other stuff that’s “really Irish”: potatoes, Catholicism, beer, Irish whiskey, shamrocks, the color green (and orange!), Brian Boru’s harp, Irish dance (though not necessarily Riverdance), Halloween (Oíche Shamhna (ee-chah how-nah)). Yes, it’s all cliché but still so true.

Check out Annette Lyon’s Word Nerd Wednesday to find some other Irish influences—on the English language. And my friend Stephanie Black actually lived in Ireland for a few years, and she’s posting about Irish chocolates and pictures (of Ireland, not the candy) today.

What do you think? Any surprises? Totally rethinking your national identity now?