Friday, 11 March 2005

Mini geography lesson: Ireland in a nutshell

A certain colleague of mine (Heh) recently made geographical history in one of her stories - she managed to make the Republic of Ireland part of the United Kingdom.

Aye, 'twas a big boo-boo, that.

I had a field day with Ireland-related jokes yesterday.

But jokes aside, the mistake IS a pretty common one, to tell the truth. Most of the confusion stems from the fact that Northern Ireland IS part of the UK, but the REPUBLIC of Ireland is not.

If you watch international football, you'd know that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland play under their own flags and not under the UK, and that the REPUBLIC of Ireland is NOT part of the UK.

Here's the map of Ireland, courtesy of Lonely Planet:

As you can see, Ireland may be part of the British Isles, but it's a republic on its own. Now NORTHERN Ireland, on the other hand, IS part of UK,

Ok, besides being known for Roy and Robbie Keane, Ireland has produced a whole lot of great authors and musicians. According to Lonely Planet, "if you took all the Irish writers off the university reading lists for English Literature the degree course could probably be shortened by a year."

And the list of notable Irish authors IS impressive - Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, W B Yeats, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce (who is supposedly "the most significant writer of literature in the 20th century", again, according to Lonely Planet).

Ohter notables given by Lonely Planet are JP Donleavy's The Ginger Man; Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy, Roddy Doyle's 1993 Booker Prize winner Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Patrick Macabe's "brilliantly disturbing" The Butcher Boy and anything with the word 'peat' in it written by the poet Seamus Heaney.

I've never read ANY of them, mind you, but they sound interesting. One book I HAVE read is Angela's Ashes, the book of memoirs by Frank McCourt which won the Pulitzer Prize for biographies in 1996, and is about the first nineteen years of his life as an Irish Catholic. McCourt himself was born in America, but his mother has roots in Limerick, Ireland.

Angela's Ashes was one of the most interesting books I read that year, mostly because of the quaint limerick-like way it was written. Didn't feel like a biography at all. Though it WAS a bit depressing at times. But don't bother with the follow-up, Tis'. By all accounts, it sucked.

Music-wise, who can deny that U2 is Ireland's greatest musical export? Bono and gang would eclipse any list of Irish musicians, but hard to believe that many people STILL don't even realise that they are from Ireland.

What other musicians come from Ireland? The Corrs, The Cranberries, Enya, Bob Geldof, Elvis Costello, Sinéad O'Connor... the list goes on.

Riverdance also originated from Ireland, and features traditional Irish tap-dancing. I love that show.

Other stuff that we normally associate with Ireland are:
  • The colour green
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Four-leaf clovers
  • Guinness
  • Lebrechauns
  • Luck of the Irish
  • The IRA (Irish Republican Army)

So there you have it. Ireland in a nutshell. Now there's no more excuse for you to think that it is part of the UK (I hope).

Hope I didn't make any mistakes here. Am hardly an expert in Ireland myself. But there's a whole lot more to this little country, so go check out Lonely Planet if you want something more accurate.

I can't believe I just posted an entire geography lesson on the blog. I think I shall go lie down now.

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