|thanks to Monica for the pics|
"What's the craic" is my favourite way of greeting people, but this usually recieves a few raised eyebrows from those forigners unfamiliar with the traditional Irish phrase.
After coming home to Ireland for the holidays I have come to the conclusion that the reason Irish people are all slightly insane and drink so much is because it is the only way that we can deal with the weather.
Seriously this is not the first time I have discussed the Irish weather, and a friend recently informed me about how a guide book to Ireland outlines the Irish mentality. The book describes the Irish as having 3 parts to their brain, one part deals with Logic, the second part deals with Emotion and finally the third part deals purely with this uniquely Irish element called the Craic.
Johhny forigner will often not be familiar with the craic as it is a only previlant in the Irish culture and usually reaches its climax during drinking sessions. Personal examples include "who can steal the best thing from a bar", "dancing to the river dance", "smashing glasses for no reason" and "swimming in the rain". Essentially it is doing things with no emotional or logical reason other than the result might be worth a few laughs.
A New Years break to the west of Ireland further compounded this theory. Doolin in the west of Co. Clare is famous for its beautiful scenery, cliffs and weather beaten coast. Weather beaten is perhaps a very good description as it certainly felt like the weather was giving us a physical beating, with driving sleet and hail, horizontal rain and gusts of wind that make you take a step back while fighting to walk forward at a 45 degree angle.
It is an on running gag that local people never visit their local landmarks, for example the millions of Parisiens who have never cimbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower and my many friends from Valentia who have never visited the Skelligs. So it was with particular pride that I visited the ever famous Irish entry for the new natural 7 wonders of the world; The Cliffs of Moher on New Years day.
As for the craic on New Years Eve, well it was mighty, too mighty almost. After a quick power nap I found myself playing catch up before heading to great trad session in the local before the big countdown. After being away for soo long I had also forgotten the great Irish tradition that is rounds, rounds in other countries usually operate in a semi-formal kind of way with everyone taking their turn when appropriate. Here in Ireland though is becomes a battling race where everyone battles each other to go to the bar first, then races each other to finish their drinks before battling again to take their turn to go to the bar. No one actually wins though and the result on NYE was about a million pints of (only)Guinness sitting on a table waiting to be consumed by the gee eyed hoards.
Maybe though we are lucky to have this drinking culture and weather phenomenon as it provides an endless supply of conversation, especially for strangers taking shelter in local bars. As I write this, I have been listening to radio weather warnings of strong winds that are resulting in fallen trees and power cuts. Surprise flooding, heavy snow falls, gale force winds, wet summers and icy winters have all featured on the News agenda over the last few years.
Ireland I miss and love you but hate your weather.