Monday, 25 July 2016

TRAVELLING IN IRELAND: A SURVIVAL GUIDE


                              Getting around in Ireland: Be prepared for interesting directions.

ARE YOU PLANNING on coming to Ireland this year? Then prepare yourself for slight possibility that you may never leave.

The reason has nothing to do with our charming cailíní or wonderful old pubs.

It's because when you're driving around Ireland, you'll find yourself having to ask for directions. Surely that's the normal way of things, I hear you say. Ah yes, but if you've never heard an Irish person give directions, you're in for a rare treat.
          
Tourist: "Excuse me, could you tell me how to get to (insert wherever it is you're hoping to go!)"
           Local: "Ah now, I could direct you to there no bother, but you're starting from the wrong place."
           Tourist: "Right, so where do I need to start?"
            Local: "Arragh, from the right place of course. Where was it you started? You need to go back to where you were, and start again."


Unreadable place names


It doesn't help that our signposts still leave a lot to be desired - and even when they're there, you won't be able to read any of them.

Why? Because we have some of the most unpronounceable place names in the whole of Europe.

Picture yourself on the beautiful West coast of Ireland. Perhaps you're visiting Galway, the famous City of the Tribes. And you've heard that Muckanaderawlia (bear with me) is a lovely little village to visit in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking region).

Except when you get there, how do you know? The signpost reads Muckanagherderdauhlia. It happens to be the longest place name in Ireland.

Worse, if you get talking to the locals, they might use the Irish, Muiceanach idir Dhá Sháile, which translates literally as 'Pig-shaped hill between two seas.'

In case you were wondering, like.

It isn't even the funniest of our place names, though. And there's a few in the running for that particular accolade.

Newtwopothouse grows the best grass in Ireland

Nobber, for example. It's in County Meath, and it comes from the Irish 'an obair', meaning 'the work.'

Cockhill Road, Stamullen is another Meath example. It's up there with Shercok, a town in County Cavan, and Kilcock, in County Kildare.

Not to mention the unfortunately named Muff in County Donegal. Apparently, the name comes from a mispronunciation of the Irish 'Magh', meaning plain.

Then there's Newtwopothouse in Mallow, County Cork, which is, wait for it, famous for growing the best grass in Ireland. The normal sort. Enjoyed by sheep and cows.

They're not all long names, of course. Some of my favourite are Inch and Ovens, both in Cork and Camp in County Kerry.

For the religious, there's Rosary Road and Lourdes Road

Dublin place names are just as mad. We have Lazer Lane, Lad Lane and Coke Lane. (Would I make this up?)

And as a stark reminder of our colonised past, there's Protestant Row and Little Britain Street.

In times gone past, we would also have been a hugely religious country. Why else would we have proudly named streets Rosary Road, Ave Maria Road and Lourdes Road.

On the flip side are slightly more violent names like Kill (County Kildare), Swords (Dublin) and Kilbrittain, County Cork.

Another thing to remember as you're motoring around our little country, is that the signpost will have the Irish name on top, the English underneath. Bear in mind that how you pronounce it, won't compare with how it's actually pronounced, and you'll save yourself frustrating conversations with the locals.

However much you might be tempted however, do not rely on Sat-Nav. During one of our recent 'snows' - don't get me started on how the country grinds to a halt when there's a few flurries - some visitors were driving through the Dublin mountains.

Mindful that Dublin people themselves, get lost in those Dublin hills, they were relying on Sat-Nav.

It was all going beautifully until they found themselves in the famous Sally Gap, unable to move because they were snowed in.

Luckily, they were just about able to get a signal on their mobile phone.

The motto of this story? Never trust Sat-Nav. Or signposts. Or directions from the locals.

Best thing really is an open-ended ticket.

That way you can just leave when you eventually find your own way.

Go n'éirigh on bóthar leat.*

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*Old Irish expression literally translated as May the road rise with you, but simply meaning: Good Luck.


Dear reader,
Huge thanks for visiting today. 

If you enjoyed my column, please feel free to share it (check those cute little buttons below).


Why not follow THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE via Email? (See the Follow by Email box to the right of this post).
What does that mean?
1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

As a bonus for July, the Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type is just HALF PRICE on Smashwords. So you can download it in ANY FORMAT onto ANY E-READER. Enjoy. <3


Have a wonderful week,
Thanks for reading,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.

Monday, 11 July 2016

ICECREAM: THE LOW-DOWN ON IRELAND'S TOP SCOOPS


                                    Ice-cream: It's a long way from chocolate cones we were reared.


ICECREAM has become a matter of hot debate in recent years in this country.

No doubt, it all began with the Celtic Tiger. The big cat began to roar, and even the more modest of us, had money for the daftest of things.

A second home in Croatia still a bit out of reach? Never mind, we could still afford to splash out on highly over-rated, over-priced, artisan brown bread ice-cream.

No kidding. Brown bread ice-cream became a thing for a while. It probably still is. Goodness knows who dreamt it up.

Then came the crash. And suddenly we all started to rediscover HB ice-cream. It was good enough for us when we were growing up, and we were happy to realise that it still was.

That said, once we'd tasted wonderfully crazy, American ice-cream (cookie dough, really??), posh Italian gelato and our own Murphy's salted ice-cream, there was no way to make our high-brow taste buds forget.

But Pistachio is not the only flavour. And the iconic HB is once again having its moment in the sun.


Ice-cream was for the Summer and the sun

Of course, unlike now, when we've managed to rebrand ice cream for every possible occasion, ice cream, back in the day, was for the sun. 

The huge HB factory in Dublin, wasn't too far from where I lived. To a child, it had a Willy-Wonka appeal. Groups of kids would hang around the gates, hoping workers would appear with free samples. 

Apart from the pre-wrapped ice-creams and ice-pops (popsicles) in the local newsagent, we could buy slices of vanilla ice-cream, cut from a block, and sandwiched between wafers.

The thickness of the slice didn't only depend on how much change was in your pocket, but on the generous eye of the woman behind the counter.

Home-made Irish 'milkshakes'

When the weather got really hot, penny-watching parents bought a pint block and a big bottle of lemonade. Taylor Keith, or TK red lemonade was a firm favourite in our house.

Irish 'milkshakes' were made by putting a slice of ice-cream into a tumbler of lemonade. The fizzy combination of sugar, milk and cream defined a Summer's day.

I give it a nostalgic mention, only to be met by horrified stares from the offspring. One of them recently discovered frozen yoghurt. There's no going back. 

So, if you are in Ireland this Summer, and you want to find the best ice-cream our little country has to offer here's the Irish Mirror Top 10 Ice-Cream Parlours.

Meanwhile, one type of ice-cream is as popular today as ever. At the first hint of warmer weather, we start to queue outside traditional ice-cream shops and roadside vans for the much-loved "99".

Machine made, soft-whip with a stick of Cadburys Flake in the top. Sophisticated it isn't.

And all the sweeter for it.
********************************************************

Hi there,
Huge thanks for visiting today. I'd especially love to hear what you're doing this Summer. Please leave a comment below and I promise to reply.

If you enjoyed my column, please feel free to share it (check those cute little buttons below).


Why not follow THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE via Email? (See the Follow by Email box to the right of this post).

What does that mean?
1. You'll NEVER MISS my fun, fortnightly personal column + updates/guest author posts!
2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused.
No spamming - I promise.

As a bonus for July, the Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type is just HALF PRICE on Smashwords. So you can download it in ANY FORMAT onto ANY E-READER. Enjoy. <3

Have a wonderful week,
Thanks again for reading,
Hugs & xx,
Sharon.