When we first saw this Irish stereotype, we wondered how anyone could suggest an entire culture of people were all talkers. So, where did this one come from?
It should only take us a few moments of your time to completely throw it out the window. Are you ready? We’ll break this Irish stereotype down into two quick historical facts, then follow it up with a conclusion on modern day Ireland.
The curse of the Blarney Stone.
Above all, this stereotype probably generated from the Blarney Stone. Perched high on the castle wall, there is a stone you can lean back, grab the railings and kiss. The stone gets its powers from a witch who wanted to thank the king for saving her from drowning. On a tour of Ireland, you almost certainly shouldn’t miss the Blarney Stone Castle.
Since ‘blarney’ means persuasive eloquence, it follows that the blarney stone gives one the gift of gab. But since it sits 85 feet up on the 18 foot thick battlement wall, well, we find it a bit far fetched that all the Irish actually kiss it.
Irish weather makes winter a dreary time.
Have you ever spent all day alone? How about an entire week? Imagine for a minute that there are no roads or cars, and inclement Irish weather (cold, wet rain) keeps you indoors for weeks at a time. We recently discussed Irish pubs and their history as a public place to meet. These Irish stereotypes, then, find their truth in the use of public houses as a meeting place for, well, farmers shut in during several months of the year.
It’s not so much that all Irish folks talk like crazy, but that limited amounts of human contact dictated that they were more likely to be quite lively when they finally did have the opportunity to visit a pub to see friends and neighbors. Add some booze and music, and a recipe for lots of chatter will follow.
Oral histories are a strong part of the Irish culture.
If you’ve done research on Ireland, you may be familiar with the Pagan religion that roots itself in many aspects of Irish heritage (today, the majority of Irish practice Christianity.) While any number of woodland creatures and the worship of nature was inherent in their historical religions, how do you think they passed down their rituals?
Oral histories have played a strong part in any number of cultures throughout the world. As Irish stereotypes go, you have to remember that many tales, which may seem fabricated, were simply passed down from generation to generation.
Additionally, a poor, rural, uneducated population only has the option of orally relaying stories since reading and writing would be limited, perhaps to just a few family members. Remember that, historically, rulers preferred for peasants to remain uninformed, presumptively so that they were more easily conquered.
It was through the telling of stories, legends and traditions that the Irish held together their oft war-ravaged heritage. Suggesting that the Irish have the gift of gab, then, isn’t to say they talk too much, but that their culture, over the centuries, came to rely on verbal communications as the primary method of keeping their history alive.
Modern day Ireland.
When you take a vacation to Ireland today, you shouldn’t expect these Irish stereotypes to dominate your pub tour. In fact, just like anywhere else in the world, some folks will be very friendly, while others will keep to themselves.
Likewise, you may want to brush up on a few Irish phrases. And you may just get lucky to be told a few stories behind the traditional Irish symbols. Whatever your experience may be, we wish you happy trails … but hope no one bends your ears too much.