There are an amazing amount of stereotypes when it comes to the Irish. They are all around us and there is no way of getting away from them. One of the things that must be addressed however, is how often stereotypes are dramatically wrong. These are my top 5 mistaken Irish stereotypes:
1. A Catholic Society
Since the turn of the 20th century there has been a perception that Ireland is a completely Catholic country. Although that may have been the case at an earlier stage, it is clear that the country has changed. Modern society has completely altered the view of Religion in Ireland as a whole.
The 2011 census showed that there were 270,000 people that defined themselves as having no religion, which was a 44% increase from the 2006 census. The days of defining a nation by their religious orientation is a thing of the past due to the introduction of new nationalities as well as breaking away from traditional Catholicism.
2. Irish Drinking
This seems to be the most common stereotype. The fact is the Irish do drink, but it is a very damning thing to call the Irish drinking culture a problem. It is not the drinking itself that gives way to this stereotype of alcoholism in Ireland, but more the pub atmosphere. Even non-drinkers go to the pub as it is a social event as is a calm area for socialising.
As well as this National Documentation Centre on Drug Use shows that since the peak of alcohol consumption in 2001, there has been an annual decrease in drinking levels. Therefore it is not exactly accurate to simply call Ireland a drinking country.
3. Friendly People
This point may be a bit cynical from my point of view but I do not think that Irish are as sociable as perceptions have made us believe. In fact, it is the opinion of many that they are secretly very reserved. In a social situation the Irish are one of the best in the world at speaking, but saying very little.
We keep the language used very light hearted and conversational, yet we avoid speaking about more serious topics. Societal structure is a massive aspect of social interaction in Ireland. Separate boys and girls schools as well as private school isolation does not exactly prepare many young people for general social interaction.
4. Northern Ireland is not safe for Republicans
This is possibly one of the greatest misconceptions about Ireland in the modern day. Granted, the civil war had violence occurring up until the late 1990’s, but much has improved since then. Since the introduction of the 1998 Belfast agreement, parties have worked very hard to ensure that there is no further violence.
This does not make the North of Ireland an unsafe place to travel to. In fact it is extremely unlikely that you would run into any trouble at all. This friction is nearly non-existent in the modern day, baring radical extremists still fighting a dead cause like ‘The Real IRA’.
5. We are not all Ginger!
OK, this may be a bit biased on my part as I have experienced it many times, but not every Irish person is Ginger. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have been in a foreign country and someone says to me that they thought all Irish people were ginger.
However, the statistics do show that we have the second highest percentage of red heads in the world, second only to Scotland. However, certain actions have been taken to support the affliction in Ireland, one such actions being the Irish redhead convention (a sort of ginger support group). So maybe the public is right with regards to this stereotype, but don’t completely generalise a nation.
What other International stereotypes are out there? And are there any more Irish stereotypes I missed?
Please comment your opinion below.