No, I'm not a Leprechaun.

June 2, 2011
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Am I Leprechaun? Do I have red hair? Do I drink a lot? Is my favourite food potatoes? No, No, No and No. I’m from Northern Ireland and I’m sorry to say that none of these stereotypes apply to me. Now, I’m sure some of you may have heard of Northern Ireland because we tend to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. Sectarianism used to be a big problem here, and although it hasn’t totally disappeared, things have improved greatly since ‘The Troubles’ which began in the late 1960s and many consider to have ended in the late 1990s. I live in Belfast, the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland with a population of around 267,500. That’s right, the biggest city in Northern Ireland has a total population of just over a quarter of a million, but what can I say? We're a small country.
I would say I live quite a normal life for a teenager. I enjoy going to the cinema, eating food that’s horrifically bad for you and messing around with my friends. I go to an all girls school. This is quite normal here, there are lots of single-sex schools and lots of mixed and all schools wear a uniform. There aren’t really any private schools here, only a couple with higher fees than others, but you can go to a good state school without paying a bomb. Schools are largely segregated, although there are some integrated schools which is good to see because the cost of segregation is pretty hefty. Most state schools in Northern Ireland are predominantly Protestant, while the majority of Catholic children attend schools maintained by the Catholic Church. I feel this is a big problem here as I know many people can through their whole school life without talking to someone ‘from the other side’. However on a lighter note, the education we get in Northern Ireland is fantastic and I feel very lucky to be in the position I am in.
Most of the time, life carries on as usual, every so often there a bomb-scares but thankfully this is becoming the exception, rather than the norm. On a lighter note, I thought I’d introduce you to all that Northern Ireland has to offer.
First up, food, a particular passion of mine. The perfect way to start the day is with a good old Ulster Fry (named after the province it originates from). The ingredients vary but mostly include bacon, fried potato bread, sausages, fried eggs, soda bread, and wheaten bread. (We are excellent at making breads). It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and has been described as a heart attack on a plate, yum. Your classic Northern Irish dinner will be made up of some form of meat, a vegetable (my mother seems to favour either cabbage, carrot and parsnip, or cauliflower) and potatoes served in one form another, whether boiled, roasted, fried, or sautéed, when you come to my house potatoes will be on the menu. (Okay, so we do eat potatoes a lot).
I shall now proceed to give you a quick lesson on Northern Irish slang. I shall begin with a common greeting, “What’s the craic?” Here, craic is pronounced ‘crack’ and this phrase is equivalent to asking “How are you?” or for the more street amongst you, ‘sup?’ another similar greeting is ‘Whataboutche’. ‘Banter’ is a phrase which has recently become very popular, if something is good banter, its good fun. This has irritatingly been shortened to ‘bant’ and the opposite of ‘bant’ is..Wait for it..’anti-bant’. A ‘bake’ is someone’s face which has led to many people calling facebook, you guessed it ‘Bakebook’. Hilarious. If I were to go for a short walk, I would be going for a ‘dander’ and if I were to be going out to a club I’d be going ‘out out’. If I were to steal something (I am not condoning theft) it would be ‘stroked’. I realise this would lead to great confusion if I were to attempt to steal a cat as many people would think I had merely petted it if I told them ‘I stroked a cat’. There are many more phrases which are only to be heard here, so I shall let you discover them when you come to visit!
Finally, how could I not mention the weather? I’m not sure if this a universal habbit, but here, we like to talk about the weather, a lot. It’s the perfect small talk conversation and is analyzed daily. I do not believe I have ever gotten through a day without someone commenting on the weather. If I were to sum up our weather in one word, it would be mediocre. I’ll concede that it does rain a lot, however it never gets ridicously warm, or ridicously cold. We get snow rarely and a hot day is anything above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Once it gets past this temperature you will find that shops are nearly out of burgers and other related BBQ. The newspapers will declare it a ‘heatwave’ and predict its going to be the hottest summer on record. It usually lasts for a weekend before conditions return to normal.
However all in all, I love where I live. It’s my home and always will be. I do have the urge to get out and see the world, but I know that I’ll always have a little bit of Leprechaun inside of me. Oh come on...I had to say it!





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