Tuesday 22 October 2019

What does it mean to be Irish?

On our national day of celebration, we asked Ireland's young how they felt about being Irish.

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
Charlotte Ryan
Laura Fitzgibbon
Niall Gleeson and his Irish Mammy
Donning the green on St Patrick's Day
Getting into the St Patrick's Day atmosphere
The leaning Tower of Pisa in green for St Patrick's Day
Mr Tayto
Even dogs dress up for St Patrick's Day

Clare Cullen

Irish people, it can be agreed, have one thing in common… we all love to talk about being Irish. We enjoy discussing what makes us different and saying 'That's so Irish' to a plethora of actions of varying cultural significance. This conversation has now spread online, thanks to Ireland's 'Millennials', or Generation C.

Buzzfeed, the web's largest publisher, may have perfected the 'listicle' (an article laid out in numbers) but Ireland's growing YouTube community has perfected the online homage to their own culture and heritage, racking up hundreds of thousands of views for videos such as 'How To Speak In An Irish Accent' and even millions for videos like 'Shite Irish Girls Say'.

Traditional media has jumped on the bandwagon, with clips such as 'Every Irish Wedding Ever' from RTE's Republic of Telly racking up millions of views on YouTube.

For this year's St Patrick's Day, Independent.ie questioned Ireland's young people about what it means to them to be Irish in today's world, and asked them to share their responses online as 'What It Means To Be Irish'.

The campaign involves YouTube 'Tag' videos - a video in which a creator answers a question or takes on a challenge, and then 'tags' other creators to create their own version of the video. In this way, the campaign has spread around the country as YouTube's Irish community has 'tagged' friends across the globe to participate.

The campaign also uses the hashtag #WhatItMeansToBeIrish on Twitter, where users have taken to sharing anecdotes and short summaries of what being Irish means to them.

    Its aim was to spark a global conversation on what makes Ireland - and its people - unique. We wanted to explore why 'being Irish' is so desirable around the world, to list the best - and worst - things about being Irish. The idea was to highlight the ways in which 'being Irish' has changed over the years - what is important to today's young people is not the same as what was important to their grandparents. The way in which people struggle and triumph has changed - the age-old adage of 'only having shoes on Sunday' is a bygone tale of a forgotten time, replaced with slow broadband and tales of viral superstars.

    The responses have flooded in - varying from lighthearted, comedic and sarcastic to touching, nostalgic and heart-breaking. We've selected some of our favourites here.

    To see the best video responses to tag, go to www.independent.ie/WhatItMeansToBeIrish

    'Being Irish means that we have an unrivaled and evolving culture'

    Carlow's Charlotte Ryan took a nostalgic approach to the challenge. Enlisting the help of a chalkboard and a lot of green glitter, she created a touching video which pays homage to the past and looks forward to the future, for an all-encompassing look at what it means to be Irish in 2015. Using the technique of stop-animation, Ryan's effort fuses archive footage with new to create a lyrical overview that touches on culture to music to Charlotte's own experience as an Irish dancer.

    Link: www.youtube.com/CharChar3211

    'As a nation, we have this fantastic collective sense of humour'

    James Mitchell discusses how much everyone wants to be Irish - and how much the Irish hate it. "I once had someone tell me they were Irish... (because) they loved the colour green... Seriously".

    Mitchell says the Irish sense of humour is the most important and unique aspect of our culture. He told a story in which an American told his father on holiday that she saw "your Prince Harry" on television, to which his father burst out laughing. "We are able to look at things from a different angle..."We laugh at whatever we can just to make a situation better".

    Link: www.youtube.com/JamesMitchellTV

    'There's nothing more Irish than an Irish Mammy'

    YouTube gamer and vlogger Niall Gleeson says he "could go on about the roar of the crowd in Croke Park when your team wins the game" but, instead, he enlisted the help of his mammy to show that being Irish was a lot of things, but none so clear and universal as the way in which we place the Irish mammy on a pedestal. Adorable 'Mammy Gleeson' makes a cameo in which she discusses the four things she "always offers" guests to their home "tea, a drop of drink, food and a big welcome".

    Gleeson's video also features a hilarious countdown of the 'most Irish' things we've done as a nation, including "having lots of sex when the Pope comes to town".

    Link: www.youtube.com/NiallGleeson

    'Being Irish means you're probably Catholic… but you never go to Mass'

    Cork beauty guru Laura Fitzgibbon, who goes by FitznBitz online, started her video with a cupla focal, and took on the controversial topic of 'Paddy's Day' versus 'Patty's Day'. Laura counts down what makes people 'truly Irish' - being sunburned, the 'long goodbye' ('bye, bye, bye!') and feeling guilty about everything. "You apologise for everything… even if you're not in the wrong."

    Link: www.youtube.com/FitznBitz

    'Being Irish means staring at the Spire intently… seriously, what's it there for?'

    Comedian Séan Connolly created a light-hearted look at the 'Top Ten Best Things About Being Irish' and jokingly lists the "sunny weather" as number one, accompanied with a clip of heavy rain. He laments the existence of the Spire and the inability of Irish people to speak Irish, and touches on popular Irish phrases. "Come here, go away?"

    Séan's list comes right up to the present day, including "our pride at giving the world Hozier" to "our government making drugs accidentally legal for a day".

    Link: www.youtube.com/thesonicscrew

    As people around the world, dressed in green, celebrate St Patrick's Day, the conversation among Ireland's young people is continuing online. If you want to join it, use the hashtag #WhatItMeansToBeIrish on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine.

    The 'What It Means To Be Irish Tag' aims to empower Ireland's young people to explore what it means to be Irish in today's world, and how it's changed over the years.

    Upload your own video and tweet @independent_ie for your chance to be featured on our website.

    Watch these videos and see St. Patrick's Day celebrations from around the world by heading to www.independent.ie/StPatricksDay.


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