Irish Culture

Jessica Hernandez

Preface

Dear Reader,


I’m not Irish, not anywhere near it, actually. My entire family is Cuban, so Ireland seems a bit far off. There’s something about the culture that has always intrigued me, something about it has always pulled me in and sparked an interest in the lifestyle and the culture. No, it’s not that different from other cultures around the world, but the culture is so rich, so real, and I absolutely love that. Culture is something that is present in every place, every story, every song, almost everything this world has to offer.


Culture, by definition, is the body of customary beliefs, social forms, and materialistic traits that all together constitute a group of people's distinct tradition(s). Although this is a very clear and concise definition, culture is so much more than we think it is. It is all around us, and most of the time, we don't even know it. Culture is more than just a textbook definition, memorized by students and taught by teachers every day, it’s so much more than just a few words used to describe something. Culture is what makes people and places who and what they are. Culture shapes lives, affects people from the moment they are immersed in their own culture and is carried with them for the rest of their lives. Culture is something that brings people together and makes them who they are, and I think that is pretty amazing.


I read three Irish folk stories, "Singing With the Good People," "The Nightingale and the Rose," and "A Midnight Dance." Choir is a very important part of my life and I never really stop singing (ask any of my friends or family members, they know it’s true), so Singing With the Good People got my attention just by the title. It’s a story about what happens when you aren’t good to people and how karma will come back to get you if you are terrible to people. The story is influenced by music and the singing of irish folk songs, tied in with some industry and work in Ireland.


When reading these stories, I fell in love with the culture even more than I already had. I got to learn things that I never would have known and read some of the stories that children all over Ireland are told every single night, and that was very interesting and intriguing to me. I am fascinated by other cultures, and in doing this project, I have become in more interested in cultures around the world. I would love to learn more about different cultures, and maybe even immerse myself in a completely foreign culture one day. I would love to travel the world and learn about different places and people and cultures while doing so.


Each of these stories teaches a lesson, big or small, and that is very important. The culture of Ireland is also represented in these stories is a wonderful way. It shows the culture as real and honest, which is exactly what it is. For this project, I researched a bit about Ireland and it’s culture, and honestly, I think it’s an amazing place with an extremely rich culture. I hope you enjoy this thought out analysis of a one-of-a-kind culture and all that it has to offer.


Sincerely,

Jessica Hernandez

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Cultural analysis

When you think of the Irish culture, what comes to your mind? Potatoes? Shamrocks? A lot of green? Red hair? If you’re a fan of One Direction, you might even think of Niall Horan, who is indeed Irish. All of these things certainly are a part of the Irish culture, but they are not anywhere near the real, raw culture of the place. Some of them are even stereotypes, like the red hair. No, not every Irish person has locks of shockingly red hair, and no, not everyone there grows potatoes for a living. The Irish culture is a very special thing, and three of the most important aspects of it are the music, the food, and the customs of the place.


All of the music from Ireland tells a story, whether it’s about happiness or sadness or heartbreak. There is a tale or lesson told in each song, each verse of Irish songs, but especially in folk songs. In “Singing With the Good People,” a group of people are singing a song called "Dé Luain, dé Máirt, dé Luain, dé Máirt” which means “On Monday, on Tuesday, on Monday, on Tuesday.” When a man named Ronan completed their song by singing "agus dé Chéadaoin" which translates to “and on Wednesday” they rewarded him by making his life easier and removing a hump on his back that made it hard for him to walk. This shows just how important music is in the Irish culture. The song was obviously important to the singing people, and when Ronan completed their song, they were extremely thankful and made his life easier because of it. Music is a part of what makes the Irish culture exactly what it is, with traditional dances being performed and songs being sung every single day all over Ireland.


From beef stew to traditional shepherd’s pie to corned beef and cabbage casserole, Irish food is very similar to the food of many other cultures like American. This food is simple for the most part and has small components to it that makes it different from other food. The ingredients and flavors that are used are somewhat unique (and from what I can tell, delicious). Potatoes are a big part of some dishes, along with being a side dish to many others, but they aren’t all that is eaten in Ireland. Irish cuisine includes a wide variety of dishes from entrees to soups to desserts, and each one represents a little bit of the culture.


One of the main traditions in Ireland is St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, but this is not only celebrated by the Irish, but celebrated across the globe each year. This is the only main tradition that most people know, but just like in every culture, there are many other traditions and customs that are practiced all the time. Other traditions include the telling of stories and celebrating of one’s life instead of mourning it when a loved one or friend passes away, to the groom wearing a kilt at his wedding ceremony while his bride is clad in white like in most weddings. All of these customs and more really shape the people of Ireland and make them who they are because of their culture.

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literary analysis

Every story has some sort of lesson tied into it, whether that lesson is important and can be used all throughout life or if it’s small and doesn’t have much importance. Each story that is told has a theme in it, once again, whether the theme is big or small, it is always present in some way. In “Singing With the Good People” by Grainne Rowland, an Irish folk tale about kindness and being good to people, the theme is exactly what I just stated. Be kind and good to people, that alone can take you very far in life, and that is essentially the message being taught in the story.


There are two main characters, Ronan and Crevan. Ronan was kindhearted and always willing to help anyone with anything, but there was something wrong with him. He had a large hump on his back and it made it very difficult for Ronan to walk anywhere quickly because of how much it slowed him down. One night, he was heading back to his house after a day in town, and he grew very tired and decided to take a nap on the side of the small road he was walking on. While he was falling asleep, he heard singing in the distance. They were singing a song that repeated the words “On Monday, on Tuesday” over and over, until at one point, Ronan joined in and sang “and then on Wednesday”, and the people singing nearly couldn’t believe it. Ronan had completed their beloved song.


“When the dance was over, the King of the fairies smiled at Ronan.

"Thank you for finishing our song," the King said. "You will have your reward."” (Rowland, 17) As a reward, they removed the hump from Ronan’s back, and he was extremely grateful. People heard about this wonderful event, and when Crevan heard about it, he wanted just the same from the singing people. He too had an enormous hump on his back, and he wanted it removed just like Ronan. Now, Crevan was not a very nice person. “But Crevan was not kind like Ronan. Crevan was mean. He shouted at the village children. He would never help anyone in need, but complained constantly about his own misfortune.” (Rowland, 21) When Crevan interrupted their song just like Ronan had, the singing people were not very happy. Instead of removing his hump, they added Ronan’s hump on top of his. “"How dare you interrupt our song! You are a rude fellow. Now you will have Ronan's hump as well as your own!" (Rowland, 24).


The lesson that was taught in this story is that being kind is very important, whereas being mean and rude to people will only result in bad luck later. Basically, karma will come back to get you one day if you are horrible to people. The author wanted to teach young children that being kind is something that must always be done, no matter how you are feeling or how unfortunate your day or life is. Without kindness, the world would be a hostile place, and no one wants to live in a world where everything is mean, do they? The culture in Ireland helps people to see that being kind is important, and Irish people as a whole are very polite and kindhearted. They know because of stories like this that being kind is a key to success in life, and that is one of the best lessons that could ever be taught to people of all ages.

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Bibliography

"Celebrating Irish Culture for St. Patrick’s Day." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


Haggerty, Bridget, and Oscar Wilde. "The Nightingale and the Rose." Irish Culture and Customs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


"Harcourt Developments." - Irish Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


"Irish Culture Traditions in Ireland – The Celtic Culture." Irish Culture Traditions in Ireland – The Celtic Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


"Living in Ireland | Culture & Society." Living in Ireland | Culture & Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.


Rowland, Grainne. "A Midnight Dance." Irish Culture and Customs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


Rowland, Grainne. "Singing with the Good People." Irish Culture and Customs. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.


"A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection: The Root of Irish Music." Raz Mataz Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.