« Ireland is an exhausting country. You have to be young, or crazy, or drunk, or a fool to survive there: or all at once! » Benoîte Groult, Journal d’Irlande, Grasset, 2018 (translation Pauline Chatelain)
Welcome to my blog where I look at Ireland with a French eye and sometimes also a linguistic eye.
I will start by stating two « platitudes », but that is in fact the alpha and omega:
Ireland is a small country.
Ireland is an island.
You have to understand all the implications of these two sentences to be able to understand Ireland
I am not aiming to match Heinrich Böll and his irish journal, far from it. But we have to admit that Ireland, for those who live there, can sometimes be overwhelming, it means we feel overburdened in our capacity to adapt.
Ireland is a country where people speak English and drive on the left side of the road, everyone knows that. What you don’t expect is to see Irish Gaelic on every street corner, since absolutely all signs are bilingual. This immediately creates an unexpected feeling of strangeness; you’re lost in translation. Yes, we are in Europe, but also in a separate territory, with its own codes. Ireland is an island; it is the very first and probably also the last thing to understand about this country. We live with this on a daily basis: its weather (aahh the Irish wind which tousles the Norman cows but not a single hair moves on the heads of the Irish!), its food (local proteins, potatoes and vegetables), the price in the stores ( high), its language (try to read Irish correctly you will see), its unique history (occupation, rebellion, emigration, adaptation, hibernation, resurrection). Ireland is an island, but a multi-faceted island. It is a unique country.
February 2021: the way of communication of the Irish government has just been appalling in the last 6 weeks, postponing decision-making from week to week since Christmas and leaking semi-news through unofficial interviews without confronting the people with clarity, ..
Out of desperation, I have just ingested 2 portions of dinner, 2 (large) glasses of wine and 3, not 4 giant cookies in front of this never-ending winter … and I have decided to leave aside “amateurism Ireland” (we’ll see about that actually..) to talk about the other Ireland, the superb one, the one before -covid, to enlighten you, to put a grin on your face and maybe, maybe, make you dream of a post-covid green Erin. Hence this blog
Today, 12 March 2021, it has been exactly a year that Irland has entered into « lockdown mode ». I will therefore publish from now on each week a short column on an aspect of life in Ireland, , as well as a useful word, often without equivalent in French, about Anglo-Saxon life.
« Es gibt dieses Irland : wer aber hinfährt und es nicht findet, hat keine Ersatzansprüche an den Autor » (Heinrich Böll, Irisches Tagebuch, 1957)
This Ireland exists : if you go there and don’t find it however, you can’t claim anything from the autor (Heinrich Böll, Irish Journal, Translation of the quote: Pauline Chatelain)
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