Irish Stereotypes: Not Our Fault

image via St. Patrick’s Day coming up on Monday let me spend a little time clearing up some misconceptions about Irish stereotypes. Like most people who look like me, I’m a genealogical trail mix of European defectors. I even have a significant Cajun ancestry, which makes for a nifty excuse sometimes. But since I have an Irish last name, and my ancestors have been traced back to County Cork, Ireland, I’m claiming it — for today at least. And yes, that is enough to qualify me as an expert. This is the Internet, after all.

Indulge me while I set some of you straight about my people so you can be an informed reveler on Monday.

Probably the most common stereotype is that Irish people are stereo-typically known for hot tempers and violence, a la “The Fighting Irish” If we’re angry, who could blame us? It’s because we’re hungry! Consider our traditional food. Cabbage. Leeks. Onions. Carrots. Potatoes.

And turnips, for Heaven’s sake.


Can you imagine how religion would’ve evolved if Adam and Eve had shared a turnip? They would’ve begged the serpent to bite them.

These Irish soldiers look perfectly happy. Thin, but happy.

These Irish soldiers look perfectly happy. Thin, but happy.

Words that have never been said: “Nah, we had Mexican last week. Let’s eat Irish tonight.”

Don’t turn on the TV Monday morning expecting to see Emeril in the Plaza on GMA cooking up Turnip Turnovers with a Cabbage-Leek Glaze. And don’t look for a Pizza Hut St. Patrick’s Day Turnip Lover’s Pizza coupon. There isn’t one for good reason.

And our traditional meat is corned beef (which actually tastes pretty good the way Kim fixes it). But, have you ever noticed the expiration date on a package of corned beef? Go to the store and look. It’s probably around June, 2043. I feel a bit uneasy eating meat that has an expiration date that extends beyond my expiration date. On the bright side, though, you can always tear open a package, throw it on the coffee table and munch on it periodically until at least Easter.

Bottom line: of course we’re quick to fly off the handle. We’re all borderline hypoglycemics, and we’re hungry.

Here’s another stereotype I want to address: Our Irish ancestors enjoyed overindulgence at the pub.

I can’t imagine why. Certainly it couldn’t be attributed to the music of the day. Let’s see, “7 Drunken Nights,” “Drink it up Men,” “Whiskey in the Jar,” “Nancy Whiskey,” the list goes on and on. It wasn’t their fault; it was forced on them. Call me back when you see an Irish song titled something like, “I Merrily Mow Me Yard,” or “3 Cheers for V8 Juice.” Pirates and country music singers get a free pass on that subject, why not the Irish I ask you?

So go on, have your fun Monday at our expense. Wear something green to work. Pinch those who don’t. (It would serve you right if you got sued for harassment.) Go out. Party. Color your beer green. Get in a fight. And do all of those things that revelers do on St. Patrick’s Day.

Just don’t give us a bad reputation in the process.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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