Sunday, April 16, 2006

Irish Tidbits

"That's a strange word, isn't it? 'Tidbits'. I mean, I know what a bit is,
but what's a tid?"

If you know where that quote is from, I will be SO impressed.
Anyway...the purpose of today's post is to tell you some more about
this new country we're living in. So, without further ado...

To give you a relatable comparison,
Ireland is about the size of Indiana,
in both square footage and population. (Indiana has about 500k more
people living there, and it's just a little larger.) Ireland's population is
five and a half million, with just over one million of the countries
population living in Dublin.

Here's the Irish flag...

Its three equal stripes illustrate the Irish political landscape.*
orange -- standing for Irish Protestants
green -- signifying Irish Catholics and the republican cause
white -- representing the hope for peace between them
*More on the politics later; That will have to be it's own post!

Most signage is in English and Gaelic. On the highway, exits
and city markers are always written that way, for example. The
Irish language is still taught in schools, but not widely spoken. I've
read in the papers occasionally about the debate to keep it alive
contrasted with the realism that it's tough to do as the country
grows, more and more people move here from other countries,
and young people would rather learn languages more 'useful'.

This picture also shows time is written in military form, and that
hour and minute are separated with a period instead of a colon.
Also, instead of saying, 9:30 as 'nine thirty',
they say 'half nine'.

Let's see...What's next?
There are places all over called Bookmakers...It's where you go and
place a bet. And people bet on everything here! Very popular. To
give you an idea of just how prevalent they are, there are three
bookmakers where we live in Lucan, and this is a very small town.

One of the things they bet on is horse racing, It's quite a big deal here.
(Going to them is supposed to be a really good time. We'll have to do
that.) There's a race called the Cheltenham. It's like our Kentucky
Derby, expect they have eight races a day for four days, and people
get really into it! They take time off work, place bets, watch it at the
pubs and bookmakers. Everyone chats about who to bet on. This all
just happened the week of St. Patrick's Day. So, we got to witness
all the action of Cheltenham Week firsthand.

There are a few other sports that are big with the Irish...
football, golf and rugby. (Rugby is such fun to watch.)
And while not as big, there's also cart racing, dog racing and cricket.
I think cricket is a little more of a British thing...but it's on tv
here.

Onto an entirely different subject...
A toilet is called the loo. And the loos here are deeper than at home,
but they're otherwise basically the same.
The restrooms are called toilets.
If you ask someone where the 'restrooms' are, they give you a
confused look. It's always a bit of a journey to get to the toilets, too.
This was amusing to me when we first got here! They're very often
up or down the stairs...And far away from everything. They must
not have regulations on wheelchair accessibilty here or perhaps
older buildings are grandfathered in on guidelines set out since.

I think a similar leniency goes for rules (or the lack there of) on car
seats for kids compared to the states -- because I've seen kids sitting
on peoples laps in the car and moms are often on the bus with babies.
They either hold them or leave them in their strollers.
Strollers, incidentally, are called push chairs.
And diapers are called nappies.

To buy such things or anything at all, we use euros in Ireland.
You likely already knew that. It's been the currency since 2002.
(Click
here - It'll take you to a page that will show you the currency.
All bills are pictured front and back and the coins are all there, too.)
1 Euro = 1.2108 U.S. dollars
So, when you're figuring out how much something would be in
dollars, you just add 20% to the euro price.

Onto everything about driving here...
A truck is called a lowry.
The trunk of a car is called the boot.
And of course, you drive from the opposite side of the car and
on the opposite side of the road.
Almost every car here is a manual.
The speed limit and distance are in kilometers.
For those of you who haven't had to think about that conversion
recently... 1 mile is 1.6 kilometers.
So, when you drive 75 mpr, you're going 120 km.
And when you travel 30 miles, you're going 48 kilometers.
The highway is called the motorway.
While most roads, streets and lanes are narrow, the motorways are
wider.

Passing on the motorway is interesting!
When you pass someone, they usually move over for you...to the
very left of the lane or just over into the shoulder. And when you're
passing a car, another car can pass both of you if he wants!

Gas is called petro.
Here, it's about 1.15 euros per liter. There are four liters in a gallon.
In case you haven't had your morning coffee today...that means that
a gallon of gas costs 4.60 euros, which is $5.57 a gallon.
There are more cars here that run on diesel than in the states.
Sometimes I notice it when I'm walking - the exhaust is stronger.
OK, enough about cars and driving!

It's taken a minute to get use to measurements here. Today I order
a pound of lunch meat. And then realized they sell it by the kilogram.
I didn't know the conversion, and was trying to figure out how to tell
the person behind the counter how much I wanted. Then, realized
she wasn't sure how much a pound was. So, I didn't feel so bad!
Also today, I was going to make some soup for David and it said to
put the packet of broth into 190 mL of hot water...I had to look online
to figure out how much that was! It's just another learning curve.

Products are often made in other countries, that speak other languages,
and are distributed throughout Europe. So, they often have several
languages on the packaging.

Temperature is measured in celsius. So, when they report on the
weather, I still have to convert it in my head. It's simple though. You
just mulitiply the celsius temp by two and add 32. So, 15 degrees
celsius times two is thirty, plus 32 is 62 degrees farenheit. The actual
accepted formula is:
Tf = (9/5)*Tc+32

They don't have forced air here, like we do in the states. Heat is
radiant; So, we have radiators in our apartment, as they have all
over. And they don't have air conditioning. I've heard that you really
don't need it though. Fans and blankets are kind of hard to come
by....and I just can't figure that out. I looked for blankets for
three weeks - and aside from two that I found at 80 euros, I only
saw them one other time in one store. It was what we needed, and
I was so happy! I may stock up on a few at Linens and Things when
we come home.

The mail box is called a letter box.
They're green in the south and red in the north.
A number of them, still in service, date back to the time of British rule.
I love the look of them; They're absolutely charming.

Trash cans are cute, too. They call them litter boxes.


Grocery and convenience stores do not carry much in the way of
over-the-counter medicines. While they have a few things, like
medicine for a cough and indigenstion, you have to go to the pharmacy
for anything else. Here, a pharmacy is called the chemist when spoken
about, but the signs for them usually say pharmacy.

Leading us into some other lingo....
If something is expensive, they say it's dear.
If you want to make a reservation for dinner, they call it a booking.
You don't rent an apartment or a car. You 'let' it.
Parking lots are car parks.
Speed bump are ramps.
A TV is called the telly.
If you're tired, you're wrecked.
When you're drunk, you're pissed.
Tennis or running shoes are called runners.
And when you work out, they say you're in training.
They call sport pants, like excercise pants, track bottoms.
And people who are kind of like what we would call white trash, are
called knackers.
Not to be confused with knickers, which are underware.
Places that sell newspapers and magazines are Newsagents.

The f-word is used a lot, and it's less of a swear word and more an
adjective. Works for me!

The th sound is pronounced t.
So, thirty-three is pronounced tirty-tree.

Craic (pronounced crack) means a good time. 'I thought it would
be a good craic.' Or if someone's funny, they're a good craic.

There's a saying that means whimpy. It's 'big girl blouse'.
Burger King is using it as a slogan for a burger they're marketing.
They say it's no big girls blouse. But this isn't something I've
heard when regular people are talking...just in the commercial.

You dial 999, instead of 911, in case of emergency.
And that's all I can think of at the moment! I hope you enjoyed
reading this and learned something. Your international education
for the day.

Cheers!

3 comments:

Melissa Freeman said...

Well. I must say. I am ready to move to Ireland, if for nothing else, just because I could use the {F} Word freely without having to worry about who I might offend. Unfortunately, its like one of my favorites. Love the litter boxes! Love the term "knacker"!!! I'm learning so much! Thanks! Mel

Trujen said...

In regards to the bookmakers, my Irish g.grandmother used to LOVE to go to Mt. Pleasant where they're used to be a race track. It was a big deal for her to go and place her bets!

Love all the lingo. And I agree with Mel on the f word! Have any room for two extra gals? We'll bring scrap booking shit and blankets! :o)

Jen

Jenn said...

My lesson for the day-I learned alot..I would be lost trying to convert things but you seem to have the hang of it!