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To be surprised at how little British people seem to know about Ireland?

(304 Posts)
WriterofDreams Wed 01-Dec-10 22:53:20

I'm from Ireland and I've lived in England for a total of two years. In Ireland we watch all the British channels and get all the British newspapers so most Irish people are pretty up to date on everything that's going on in Britain. Also, the Irish news tends to mention Britain a lot, so even if you only watch Irish tv or read Irish newspapers you'll still get a lot of information on current affairs in Britain.

When the whole thing with Ireland going down the pan financially came up on Channel 4 my mum rang me to say "Ireland's on the British news!" and we knew then it must be bad, simply because Ireland is so rarely mentioned over here. Now I know it's a tiny country but it's a close neighbour of Britain and a large population of Irish people live in Britain, so I would have thought it was reasonable that there would be a fair amount of mention of Ireland in schools and in newspapers and on the tv. But that's not the case.

Since living here it has struck me that so many people don't seem to know basic facts about Ireland, such as who the President is, who the Taoiseach is, what the native language is called, what the native sports are and so on. I've noticed in primary schools (not sure about secondary) that Ireland is rarely mentioned as part of history or geography despite the long and complicated historical links between the two countries.

Would it be fair to say that there isn't much mention of Ireland in Britain? Do you feel you know much about Ireland? Not saying we're special or owt, just curious.

BonniePrinceBilly Wed 01-Dec-10 22:57:04

WoD, they can't even get the name of the country right, if I see "Southern Ireland" written here one more time I will scream.

Mum2HarryandBen Wed 01-Dec-10 22:59:44

Is Taoiseach still the fil of one of Westlife? Ahearne? Is the President still Mary someone? native language Irish/Galic?, native sports, galic football and a form of hockey?

Ireland was one of the many countries England/UK had in the empire, England to Ireland was once lord and master and the only neighbour next to the USA for Ireland, also their county was so very poor that they used to rely on the UK, that was until Ireland joined the EU and got masses of money for Faming and infastructure, such as decent roads and not dirt tracks etc...

Monty27 Wed 01-Dec-10 22:59:57

I'm from N Ireland and have lived in England a long time.

I'm guilty as charged blush

KristinaM Wed 01-Dec-10 23:00:03

Dont know about the English, but we like the Irish here in scotland grin.

in primary here they dont do history or geography as such, just topic or project work

Mum2HarryandBen Wed 01-Dec-10 23:00:49

Southern Ireland omg, yes that really shows ignorance as there is no such country, it is the part of a country, I always think that is basic geography!

Monty27 Wed 01-Dec-10 23:01:22

I know the sport and language stuff but not much about the politics. <shame>

RedSuedeShoes Wed 01-Dec-10 23:01:42

What language do they speak then?

But to be fair - who cares? wink

spidookly Wed 01-Dec-10 23:02:15

I think it's hilarious when people say things like "Ireland's lovely, I've been there" as though they're talking about Mauritius or Vanuatu or somewhere small and far away.

I'm like "EVERYONE in Ireland has been to England, it's even like really going anywhere."

That said though, Irish people are extraordinarily ignorant about British geography.

I remember Inter Cert Geography we did Italy, and Germany, Denmark, but Britain? No way! Why would we do that place?

I once went to a friends wedding in Darlington and had friends telling me that I should stop by and visit Brighton while I was there! confused confused

I also well remember skipping Britain in Leaving Cert History. So we only learnt about the Prime Ministers that fucked up Ireland in one way or another

WriterofDreams Wed 01-Dec-10 23:02:24

God yeah Bonnie, I didn't want to bring that up because I don't want this thread to descend into a slanging match but that pisses me off so much I can't express it (oh no I'm getting riled up now angry)

Shortly after I moved over I was on the phone setting up some official thing like the DVLA or some such (I did so many I can't remember) and I was on for literally an hour. Eventually he decided he could get me set up over the phone, having asked a million supervisors, and took all my details, and all was going well until he asked "And what's your previous postcode?" I explained that Ireland doesn't have postcodes upon which he started arguing that it did. I reassured him that I had lived there for 26 years and knew for sure that it didn't. Turns out he assumed that because I hadn't said "SOUTHERN fucking bollocks Ireland" that of course I'd been talking about Northern Ireland. Well that poor man got a piece of my mind and now I'm fairly sure he realises that there is NO SUCH FUCKING BOLLOCKS SHIT THING AS SOUTHERN IRELAND!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh dear, it happened, I hulked out. I blame you Bonnie.

curlymama Wed 01-Dec-10 23:03:00

I'm guilty too. And could probably do with being on extra punishment, because while I know next to nothing about Ireland, I have celebrated St Patricks Day blush

MerrilyDefective Wed 01-Dec-10 23:03:48

Funny isn't it,but then i think we're all very insular in alot of ways.
I don't know who the Spanish/Portugese/Dutch/Danish/Belgian/Austrian/Sw iss/Norwegian/Swedish Prime Minister is.
I know Angela Merkel is the German one(is that PM?)
I know Nicholas Sarkozy is the French one(President?)
And i'm only talking Europe here.

Obama =US
Putin=Russia
Kim Il Jong(?)=North Korea

Jeez,can't think of any others.blush

There was the Chilean President who showed up when the miners were rescued,can't remember his name.

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Wed 01-Dec-10 23:04:21

Gaeliga (sp).

KristinaM Wed 01-Dec-10 23:04:35

well wash your mouth out with soap, WoD wink

RedSuedeShoes Wed 01-Dec-10 23:04:51

Who cares?

magicmummy1 Wed 01-Dec-10 23:06:51

I feel that I know quite a lot about Ireland, but then, I am of Irish descent, I have relatives there and I visit fairly often. I agree that most people probably know very little.

DD did have an "Irish day" in school a while ago, as part of an international week. They made Irish food, learnt a few words in Gaelic and the highlight of the day appears to have been learning Irish dancing! grin

But the harsh truth is, Ireland is probably somewhat less important to the UK than the UK is to Ireland. Most people probably know a bit more about France or Germany etc, primarily because these countries are economically and politically more powerful.

If the Irish weren't exposed to so much British television, I dare say they'd know a lot less about the UK!

WriterofDreams Wed 01-Dec-10 23:07:14

I agree that the Irish grasp of British geography is appalling - I always have to explain everything to my friends in terms of London (as in Cheshire is 200 miles from London). BUT most Irish people do know the name of the British Prime Minister, the Queen, and are aware of what party is in power?

Any non-Irish person like to tell me what party is in power in Ireland? WITHOUT googling - I saw you, cheaters.

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Wed 01-Dec-10 23:07:35

I don't understand what's wrong with people saying Ireland is lovely though confused

I've never been to Ireland.........want to though.......

because I hear parts of it are lovely - like parts Scotland are lovely, and parts of Wales are lovely, and parts of Zimbabwe are lovely.

BeenBeta Wed 01-Dec-10 23:08:11

I guess Ireland is not covered much in the UK media and perhaps for its size just about as much as say a country like Belgium. To us in the UK I guess Ireland gets its fair share as a small European country.

Personally, I follow the fortunes of Ireland very closely. There is still a long running and very interesting MN thread on the financial crisis and the Irish budget here if you would like to join in. smile

That issue has of course been covered a lot in the UK media and especially the financial press/TV coverage.

Mum2HarryandBen Wed 01-Dec-10 23:08:27

either fina fall or fina gail, sp?

BaroqinAroundTheChristmasTree Wed 01-Dec-10 23:09:34

Thing is though WoD - when I lived in Zimbabwe (before Mugabe went mad). We reguarly used to get BBC news, and CNN on the TV. So people in Zimbabwe knew all about the US and UK.

So by that theory should all Americans and UK folks knows all about Zimbabwe?

It's not our fault if they show lots of British news in Ireland is it and that we don't get much Irish news here

WriterofDreams Wed 01-Dec-10 23:10:23

True magicmummy, a lot of the knowledge about Britain in Ireland comes from TV. And who thought the gogglebox was bad eh?

By the way the "Gaelic" thing is another one that makes me hulk out.

The native language of Ireland is IRISH, or the word in Irish for the Irish language is Gaeilge. It is not Galic or Gaelic.

Wow I managed to stay calm there. I feel I'm growing as a person (though that may just be this huge baby I'm sprouting).

oprahfan Wed 01-Dec-10 23:10:34

Helloooo Writerof Dreams

Mmmmm, you could have a point.Although I live in Scotland, I do notice that the Gaels speak more about links with Ireland. I was born in england. I visited Ireland when I was about nine years old. There has been much history between the two countries, and you're right, it certainly isn't talked about in schools primary or secondary, and it's important to get to the facts. It's a case of, if you're interested, find out for yourself.
So, I learnt scottish gaelic, what a lot to learn, it's fascinating and confusing at the same time. I also watched an Irish-gaelic show on bbc2 NI yesterday on sky, similar to scots-gaelic. I can only speak a little, but feel that it is a very important thing to learn about where you live, and of those around you.
So, it's a case of having to teach yr own children as I do. We travel widely around scotland and the rest of the uk when we can.
Native sport of ireland? I don't know that one....is it like shinty?!!!! Best wishes to you!!!!

magicmummy1 Wed 01-Dec-10 23:11:01

This discussion reminds me a bit of the Japanese person who asked me why British children don't have to learn Japanese at school, given that Japanese kids have to learn English.

enabledebra Wed 01-Dec-10 23:12:00

It is crap how the 'media' decide who we want to hear about. I've lost track of the number of times I've watched the news only to find I 'need' to know about the USA's 'midterms' or some other uninteresting rubbish as if we are part of the USA. Tell me interesting stuff from around the world by all means but not the insignificant twaddle about a country I have no relationship to.

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