Wednesday, 3 August 2016

5 Irish things that still surprise me

Living here for that long, nothing should really surprise me anymore. And yet, I sometimes find myself thinking "This is really strange"...

Hearing the National Anthem in odd places

In France, La Marseillaise is mostly played in a stadium or at a political event. In Ireland, you'll hear it at the end of the night in the pub or even a night-club. The weirdest place I heard it was when I was part of a musical society and "Amhrán na bhFiann" was played every night before the curtain opened. And everybody (bar me) was singing. You want to know the lyrics for your next night out? You can't pronounce the words? Don't worry, here's the Irish national anthem in phonetics.

Strangers saying hello

Sometimes, when I'm out for a walk with my husband, strangers would pass us by and say hello. Nothing wrong here, but I always ask my husband "Do you know them?" and the answer is usually  "No". Irish people are just courteous. Then I go home and say "Bonjour" to strangers in the street, and they look at me funny.

Irish people not being dressed for the weather

Or at least I don't think they are. I came back from work today and it was raining. I saw people in shorts and flip flops in the street. I guess we can't predict the weather, and it might have been sunny 5 minutes before, but I'd rather over dress and take off some layers than risk being wet or cold.

The seasons are different. Or do we actually have seasons?

Technically we are already in autumn. Yes, since the 1st of August. Winter starts on the 1st of November, Spring on the 1st of February (mad, I know!) and Summer on 1st of May. But you know what, that depresses me a bit, so I function on a mix of French and Irish seasons. This way, Summer is from 1st of May until 21st of September. And even if Irish weather doesn't live up to my expectations, it just makes me feel better.

People crossing themselves when passing a church or cemetery

I was told it happened, but I didn't believe it until I witnessed it myself. Actually, I've seen it a few times in the bus or even walking by my local church. It's not always old people either... It's probably a mark of respect and there's nothing wrong about that, but I still think it's odd.

What about you? Anything you still find strange in your host country even after many years?