Around Paddy’s Day, the papers here were full of what Irish people abroad miss about Ireland. The list was long. It ran the gamut from Tayto crisps to righting the world over a pint in the pub. Since you’re asking, what I miss most is the wit.
From Sherrif Street to Sherlockstown, Irish people have a wit about them that is unparalleled. Yes, I’ve met witty people from other countries who have made me laugh and scramble for a pen to make note of their witticisms lest I forget and want to recyle, but I’ve met nothing like the wit-en-masse that I see in Ireland.
If you’ve not seen the 2019 video of the Irish six-year-old asking her mammy to let her out to the pub, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s something we grow into. It’s not. We’re born with it.
Granted, in some of us, it never quite developed as much as it might have. But it others, it’s reached its full potential.
I got one of those WhatsApp messages today with a list of Irish nicknames that had me roaring laughing. It stemmed from a Twitter thread back in November. I’m only now catching up.
- Played football with a lad years ago called Bee-Bah. He had gotten knocked off his bike by an ambulance when he was a kid.
- Fella who gets called spider because he went shopping one day and bought four pairs of jeans.
- There is a taxi man in Ballaghdereen called Abdul and the locals have nicknamed him Abdul Abhaile.
- My da had a mate called The Bishop because used to walk at a sideways angle.
- Know a guy called boomerang because he tried to move to Australia came back two months later.
- Know of a fella who has one hand bigger than the other and they call him “the clock”.
- A customer in work is called Willie Williams so his nickname is Double Bill.
- Family down the road have been known as ‘The Yanks’ for nearly 40 years because they went to Florida for a week in the 80s.
Big shoutout to a barman who named a bloke Levis, he finished work every day at 5 but was in the pub every day at 5.01
- Had a teacher with a twitch in his eye. He was known as the indicator.
- Knew a lad once who got engaged three times. He was known as Lord of the Rings.
The list goes on. My favourite is
- Lads used to play football with a guy called Enda May. Everyone called him June.
He’d mind mice at a crossroads speaks of a man who wouldn’t spend Christmas. She’s the full of his arms of Irish love (i.e., the heavier side of light). He’s so laid back he’s still in the middle of last week. These turns of phrase don’t translate. And that they’re delivered deadpan, without any hint that they’re something special, makes them magical. A little like this Toucan I met in Costa Rica back when travel was an option.