If you're Irish, be ready to fight for who gets the bill.
THE IRISH are a fiercely generous lot. Ask anyone. We insist on paying for rounds in the pub, even if we're with ten other people, and their drinks are coming in around €8 a pop. And we've already had as much as we can drink ourselves, and have moved on to water.
It's the same in restaurants. If we're out with friends, it doesn't matter who has had what. In fact, it's the non-drinkers who are more likely to insist that the bill is split evenly.
"Don't be talking nonsense," your drinking friends will protest. "You didn't have a drop. You're not paying."
"Don't be silly, now," (or words to that effect), you retort. "I'll hear none of it. You'll insult me if you don't split the bill evenly."
This contrasts peculiarly with tipping...we're not brilliant about it.
Depending on how long this conversation continues, it can become fairly heated. What you'll hardly ever see amongst Irish people, is careful study of the bill, and calculations so that each person only pays for exactly what they had. It just doesn't happen.
This contrasts peculiarly with tipping. We do tip, of course. But we're not brilliant about it. We don't have the same reputation, as say, Americans, who are really generous tippers. It's difficult to know whether this is as a result of poor wages State-side, for waiting staff, or something that comes from deep in the American psyche.
In recent years we've also seen an explosion of cafés and tea-shops in Ireland, and most days, it's like being an extra in Ireland's classic sit-com, Fr Ted. (For those who've never seen it, try to borrow a series!!)
Set on the fictional Craggy Island off the coast of Ireland, live three wonderfully dotty priests and their housekeeper, Mrs Doyle, in a dilapidated old Georgian house. In a much-loved scene, the iconic Mrs Doyle and her two friends (also house-keepers for the clergy), finish their tea in a local tea-rooms.
Having pronounced the tea just passable, because each prides herself on making the perfect brew, they all reach for their purses to settle the bill. Each insists on paying the bill, as the others argue that it's their turn.
The argument, which begins politely, continues for many minutes, as each becomes more insistent and increasingly annoyed. One of the women tries to move to the counter to pay, and is pulled back by the others. Time passes, and the scene has descended into a hand-bag battering farce. The local police are called, and all three find themselves locked up, charged with disturbing the peace.
It could be the fault of The Irish Mammy.
Whilst we don't allow our need to pay, to drive us to violence, I've seen grown women run to the counter to pay for coffee and cake, slapping away friends who try to press money into their hands.
Or there are arguments, as the waiter waits patiently (this is not a thing to be rushed) for the first to cave.
It's hard to say where and how this streak emerged. It could be the fault of The Irish Mammy. Who, by all accounts, seems to closely resemble The Italian Mamma, or The Greek Mitír...feel free to suggest others in the comments below.
The Italians, as a race, are famously generous. Look at all those huge plates of pasta! Those pizzas the size of the table. Apart from fab Italian restaurants, it's worth noting that our fish 'n chip shops have always been run by Italians.
The Irish Mammy is of the opinion that her children need feeding up.
I can only speak for our local one, when I say that if we ask for five bags of chips, we get another two giant scoops thrown in on top. At no extra cost. I strongly suspect all the little fish 'n chip shops run this practice. But I digress.
The Irish Mammy is of the opinion that her children and their friends, no matter how old, are always in need of "feeding up". Nobody, from the plumber who's come to fix the sink, to the aunt she only saw the previous week, can escape without having something to eat and drink. She is forever doing a "big shop" (grocery shopping), to ensure that there's plenty in the house.
Naturally, it's not the done thing to admit to being generous. If we're accused of it, we shrug and get embarrassed and say things like "go 'way out'a that" and "ah, will you be going on with yourself."
Both of which translate as "shut up now, you're embarrassing me. I'm hardly likely to start agreeing with you, am I?"
Because that crosses the line of false modesty. And sometimes, the line of real modesty.
But that's a column for another time...
Hello from Dublin! I'd be delighted if you'd SHARE this column via the sharing buttons below.
Comments are really welcome, and don't worry if they don't immediately appear. They're moderated to prevent spam.
If you'd like to get THIS FUNNY IRISH LIFE FREE via email every month, go to the Follow by Email box at the top right of the page.
1. NEVER MISS my fun, personal column + updates/guest author posts!
2. Your email address will NEVER be shared or misused. No spamming - I promise.
Check out the witty Irish romantic comedy, Going Against Type. See sample chapters/buy links @ Tirgearr Publishing
Have a lovely week,
Hugs & xx