Continuing my efforts to teach all our non-Irish readers out there how to sound Irish – after all, you want to understand what kind of culture you have landed yourself in.

Irish people resist the idea that we live in a class-based society. Egalitarianism is a shared value – perhaps based on our colonial past, in which rigid social stratification was imposed based on factors that were initially alien to us, such as British titles, private land ownership, what language you spoke (and with what accent) and how and where you could be educated. The outcome of those centuries of resentment is an insistence that we are each as good as the next person and we have developed subtle ways of reminding each other not to be putting on airs or doing anything that appears to convey the impression that we are somehow better than our neighbours.

Notions! It is applied in any situation where you feel someone needs taking down a peg or two or where they need reminding not to be thinking too well of themselves. During the Celtic Tiger houses became bigger and fancier and were often surrounded by walls and gates intended to indicate a step up in the world. The proper response, as you drove by, was an eye roll and a well-timed ‘notions!’ 

A sobering case of people who had serious notions – see this post

A recent Irish Times headline told us ‘A Garden Room is Not Just a Shed with Notions.’ A hilarious post in the Daily Edge listed ’13 things that Irish mammies know are complete notions’ – it will give you not just a sample of what we consider notions, but also the Irish mammies guide to how to deal with anyone who has them. 

‘Tis far from air fryers you were raised

One of the ways your elders made sure you knew where you came from was to use the phrase Tis far from X you were reared. For those who think that they, along with the country, have grown in incredible sophistication since the Ould Days, it’s a reminder not to be getting too uppity. For X substitute, for example, soya lattes, air fryers, hair straighteners, quinoa, skinny jeans, holidays in Antarctica.

Put in an offer on this place? Ah sure, don’t be losing the run of yourself

It’s also important not to lose the run of yourself. In other words, don’t get carried away with your own importance or get to thinking you’re more  refined than the rest of us. You might do this by asking if they have a wine menu in a country pub, or by spending more than €20 on a handbag, or by musing about investing in bitcoin, or – horrors – by inviting us to a gender reveal party. 

Sssshhh – don’t tell anyone but I think we lost the run of ourselves with this gourmet meal at the Restaurant Chestnut

Your only excuse for losing the run of yourself can be that you had a sudden rush of blood to the head. Do not, under any circumstances, try to compensate with faux-humility. We will see right through you and accuse you of doing the béal bocht, or the poor mouth

Even a public toilet can have notions – this one’s in Gougane Barra

So – think you’re ready for a visit? We’re dying to meet you – just remember not to lose the run of yourself.

21 thoughts

  1. Wonderful! The trouble is, I think we all suffer from occasional ‘notions’, but just need reminding occasionally! 😀 I do love the illustrations you used as examples – I like the twirly iron gates (see, it’s hopeless, haha!)


  2. Love this post and heard one of those very notions this week. Apparently I missed meeting you by a whisker yesterday in Ballydehob, but during my stay I did manage a wave at the handsome figure of Finbarr while out walking with friends. Such breathtaking views!


  3. Finola – loved this! More to come I hope… ‘begrudgery’? Just one thing – WHAT is that dish?? Could it be bananas wrapped in carpet underlay topped with blackcurrant jam and burnt toast scrapings? Please tell!


    • Ah begrudgery! A whole post in itself. I don’t remember what the dish was although I do remember it was delicious. Your version sounds appetising, though. 😬


  4. Ones I remember from my Aunt Sadie and Julia and Nell in Ballydehob – “Go on away outta that!” and ” I did so then!”. Another _ ‘She’d a be givvin’ out to him fierce” most of you know all of these, but some may not – especially Americans.


  5. Wonderful, Finola! Have forwarded it to an English friend of mine who is learning Irish through Duolingo and Buntús Cainte. It’s not all about the blas!



    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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